Swing Dance


Last Thursday I went to Christina’s swing dance lesson after school. Being an avid dancer, I was excited to dance. Unfortunately, I know how to dance, so going to the lesson was like going to kindergarten again. Annoyingly simple for someone who has been dancing for years.


But that’s just me! I already know how to swing dance, but the majority don’t. Anyone who has never danced before can waltz in and start swinging. The instructor is very nice, and anybody can dance any part.


Traditionally there is a lead and a follow. The man would lead, the woman follows. But in the true modern style, any gender can dance any part. We don’t want your restrictions! But I recommend for follows to wear a skirt of some sort, because the spinning can be very pretty.


Some of the types of dancing taught are West Coast Swing, East Coast Swing, line dances, and latin influenced dances such as the Cha-Cha. To give a brief history, swing dance in general started around the 1930’s. But back then, all the types were called by their names instead of grouped under a broad term.


The oldest form of swing I know how to dance is Lindy Hop. It came from the Charleston, which can be incorporated into many versions of swing dance. Lindy is very fun to watch when the dancers know each other’s styles well and can do tricks, which include kicking, spinning, and jumping.


Later, Lindy Hop evolved into West Coast swing. West coast swing is also known as triple step in some communities. This is because the music is slower, so dancers add steps to keep the dance visually interesting as well as fun.


On the east coast, Lindy evolved into East Coast Swing. What differs between the East and West coast dances is the step. While East coast is “One, two, three-and one, two, three-and” West coast is “One and two, three and four, five six”. This causes most newcomers to prefer East coast for the simplicity of the steps. Personally East coast is my favorite, because I know more tricks and more people will dance with me than West coast.


In Seattle, Swing Dance is very popular. The University of Washington has a dance on Thursday nights that some of my friends go to. But the most popular event that I know of is Century Ballroom on Sunday nights. There are some live bands that come play, and everyone is out crowding the dance floor and having fun. There are all skill levels, from the bouncy first timer to the elegant veterans.

Here at Nova, we have our own class for beginners. If you’re interested, go to the cafetorium at 4:00 on Thursdays to learn how to have the time of your life!

The Importance of the HSPE

Survey Question: On a scale of 1-5 stars, how well do you think you did on the HSPE?

1 star: 1

2 stars: 1

3 stars: 3

4 stars: 11

5 stars: 4

Total students surveyed: 20

As much as we all hate standardized tests, they are extremely important for keeping our school running and keeping all of our wonderful teachers employed. Nova has always done very well with the HSPE, consistently scoring in the highest level (4’s and 5’s), but in recent years our students have been blowing off the HSPE or not taking it seriously. Due to this our collective score as a school has dropped down to a 2. If our score drops down to a 1, we could be in big trouble, so it is imperative that our students felt they succeeded in taking the HSPE.

Killer Ramen Noodle Soup for the soul

Killer Ramen Soup

As a Nova Student, it can sometimes be hard to sate your appetite. I’m here to tell you about one of the easiest to make meals for any time of day : Ramen noodle soup, which you can buy multiple packets of for under a dollar. Most people have eaten ramen at one point in their lives, but some people don’t realize the versatility of ramen soup.

There are recipe books out there that are dedicated to using cheap ramen noodles for making delicious and nutritious meals. You can find these by doing a quick search on the Internet for ramen recipes. However, you don’t have to go anywhere to find out my personal recipe. For the first time ever, I am sharing my technique for ramen cooking with the larger Nova community.

First things first, you got to pick your favorite kind of ramen noodles. There are many different kinds but to me the most convenient kind is Top Ramen, which you can get at most grocery stores along with Maruchan Ramen. To me, Top Ramen is the best, but I made that distinction at a very early age probably due to petty superstition. So either kind will work for you! Apart from which brand you use, you must pick which flavor you like the best. I prefer the Picante Beef flavor. The only difference between flavors is what comes in the seasoning packet.

Now that you have your Ramen, you can choose to omit the seasoning packet or not. The seasoning can be very high in sodium / has MSG, so you may want to use only half of the packet, or don’t use it at all. My technique is all about balancing the seasoning that comes with the Ramen, with other spices and ingredients that can enhance the flavor without MSG. MSG stands for monosodium-glutamate. It’s a flavor enhancer that is not necessarily good for your body (some people have allergic reactions to it, headaches can also occur). Hence why I try to enhance the flavor of the soup without relying heavily on the MSG packet.

Ingredients that I use can include, but aren’t limited to: Cilantro, Garlic, Ginger powder, crushed Rosemary, Sesame oil, Sriracha Chili Sauce, more hot sauce, and sometimes vegetables such as corn & peas. This is just the combination that I have grown to use over my years of ramen consumption. You can add or remove ingredients from the list based on your taste. This list has a lot of stuff on it, so I try to put just a little bit of everything so as not to overstimulate the palate of the .

Once you have your ingredients, you can start preparing the soup. You should already have your pan of water waiting to boil. While I am waiting I take a clean bowl and put half the seasoning mix in it. Then I add my extra ingredients to the mix. It starts to look like a Picasso painting after a while. When the water is boiling, add the noodles to it. This is where you have some technique to consider. Some things I have found are that if you break the noodles up just a little before adding them to the water, that can help them cook evenly and you won’t have to stir them as much. Of course if you prefer long fun noodles then leave them alone! Another thing that can change the soup is the amount of time you cook the noodles for. If you leave them in for longer, they will become more slimy with a softer texture. The ramen packet will suggest that you cook them for three minutes. This is up to the individual to decide if they like their ramen noodles slimy and a little over-done, or just as the package suggests.

After the noodles are cooked the way you like, take the pan off the heat and drain most of the water out. Put the noodles in the seasoning bowl with either some fresh water, or the water left from cooking it. I personally prefer to use the hot water they were cooked in. Pay attention to how much water you put in the bowl, because that can either dull the seasoning if there is too much water, or make the soup too seasoned if you don’t add enough water. So with this article hopefully you are thinking about ramen in a different way. It really is one of the cheapest things you could by, that can still be made into a delicious and possibly healthy meal.

the curriculum
If you want to try some completely different things with ramen noodles, check out a book called “101 Things To Do With Ramen” http://www.amazon.com/101-Things-Do-Ramen-Noodles/dp/1586857355

HSPE and Health CBA schedule for next week


18th 20th

8:45 – 11:30 HSPE Testing

11:30 – 12:00 Lunch
12:00 – 12:55 8:30 Class
1:00 – 1:55 10:00 Class
2:00 – 2:55 12:15 Class
3:00 – 3:55 2:30 Class


8:45 – 11:30 HSPE Testing

11:30 – 12:00 Lunch
12:00 – 3:55 Regular Schedule



Were you part of Spoons? If you weren’t, you sure missed out. There was mystery, intrigue, backstabbing, and cold blooded murder from those who you thought were friends. Spoons was a game I started to inspire community in the school, with raising money for the Food Cupboard as an added bonus.

The Food Cupboard is a resource for the people at school who have difficulty with obtaining food, such as homeless students. With a $1 donation from every participant, I hope to raise enough money to make a difference. As it is so far, getting the donations is difficult. During sign ups there was no time, and as a student the issues with me collecting the money while passing out the spoons is complicated. But it will work out, and donations will be collected at a time TBD.

But the game will go on, even without donations! I spent 30 minutes getting all the spoons ready on Monday. Each and every participant has a copy of the rules taped to their spoon, along with their current target.

Targets were randomly distributed. I put them in bags and didn’t look at the names while I handed them out, resulting in a slightly disappointing exit in the game for myself. But then again, many exits were slightly disappointing.

The rules for this round were you have a spoon, which has the rules and your target. You’re supposed to take your target, tap them with your spoon, and they’ll give you their target. Then their target is your target, and we start over. The technical rules were that you have to wait an hour in between targets, you can’t disturb class time, and absolutely no harming anyone.

Luckily, the overall vibe I’ve noticed is that the game has been fun for some, and a good idea but hard to execute. That is certainly true! I’ve been thinking about how to fix the game for next time, and I’ve heard some good ideas.

One person suggested that instead of random distribution, I would make a circle of people so that people don’t get their spoon until the end of the game. It’s more work, but that’s the goal for next time.

Many others have suggested that there be a rule that you have to sneak up on your target, and not be seen. This would cut down on chasing, which I think was fun, but it would also cut down on immediate “Hey buddy!” tap

So Spoons does have room to improve, but it is fun. I do hope to organize this game again!

The Curious Case of Nova’s Tiny Coffers

The following is 100% derived from the budget meeting.

This year Nova operated on $1,481,333 and it’s being cut down to $1,338,000 for the 2014-2015 school year. There’re two reasons for these cuts: a state-mandated 17 million dollar cut to the school district in general (though the entire 17 million won’t land on the schools themselves) and the school district’s decision that Nova’s attendance record merits a loss of funding equal to having 35 less students. For the record, Mark has contested that it’s as much as 35 students and said at the meeting the number is exaggerated.

That 1.48 mil allowed for 15.7 teachers, Karen P., Susan W., and Mark with about 90k left over for everything else (that’s school supplies, subs, the copier, postage, etc.). A cut of 150k may not sound so steep, but Nova and all its staff are struggling enough as it is, and the cut would remove one teacher and most of the job of another.

A few things changed at Nova this year that won’t make the downsizing quite as painful. A teacher left last semester, bringing us down to 14.7 teachers. Ben has a .5 CTE position and he’s planning to move to New York, so if we didn’t fill those vacancies we’d have 14.2 teachers, which would cost $1,299,399 to maintain. That’s within our upcoming budget of 1.38 million, but it only leaves about 40k for everything else, less than half of what we had this year. With the current plan that means no school supply money, no overtime money, and no special consideration money for teachers who do extra work (guess what? They all do).

Mark, Susan W., and the staff are doing what they can to pull funds from every corner to cobble together enough money to fill that 50k gap. For starters there’s 16k left over from this year. This isn’t a complete disaster, but from what I heard it’s the final cut before the complete disaster. We’re almost out of wiggle room. Here’s the big question folks: we’re trending towards major cutbacks, so what can be done to help increase sign-ins and stabilize Nova’s position?

Update March 13th

The 2nd budget meeting happened today, and it turns out things aren’t nearly as dire as they were last week. The district realized that they had a number crunching mishap thanks to questioning from Mark and Susan W., and now Nova is slated to receive another $138, 762 for 2014-2015. That’s a total of $1,476,762, close to last year’s budget. There’s ongoing discussion about how the funds will be used, and the results will be on NovaKnows once there’s news.

NOVA Dodgeball



    What’s the sports craze at nova? It’s been Ultimate Frisbee, It’s been Three-Way Soccer, but the sport with perhaps the most dedicated players, is still DODGEBALL. I’m hyping this up way too much, but I am serious. Dodgeball is one of the best committees at Nova because you get to throw balls at your classmates, and not feel bad about it! Okay if you hurt someone, you should feel bad. Most people do play dodgeball casually, because it is better when it’s not such a big deal bro.

    My favorite time to play dodgeball is when a whole bunch of people I’ve never seen play dodgeball before decide to show up and try it out. Dodgeball at Nova is meant for everyone, as long as you are willing to dodge balls, throw balls, and have a good time. There are some hard-core dodgeball players, who have been playing it at Nova for years. Terrance McKittrick, aka Ball Hand, is a perfect example of one of these peeps who shows up to take it easy!

    Pent up anger? Throwing balls is a great way to release. However, Dodgeball is not about giving people concussions, so remember not to be too aggressive. Excess rage will not make people think you are cool, teamwork and sportspersonship will. That is the most important thing to remember if you want to play dodgeball at nova.

    In reality, the most important thing to remember is actually that dodgeball happens every friday during committee time, in the little gym. The little gym is located past the cafeteria, down the hall, to the right. You have to go down that little blue ramp before you turn right. Dodgeball cannot start until someone has retrieved the balls from Terrance’s room. Once the balls are in the gym, student’s will usually line up the balls in the middle of the gym. They then form teams, count down, then start playing.

    The rules are easily learned by asking someone playing dodgeball, they sometimes change too, if enough students can agree. Like i said earlier, the biggest rule you should follow is to have fun without putting people down. You can get people out of the game by hitting them with balls. A few more rules you should know about are ; If someone on the team opposite you catches a ball you or your teammate throw, the person who threw it is out. If someone on your team catches a ball, one person from your team who is out can step back in. Another rule that is usually enforced is that you should not step over the middle line of the gym, unless there is only one person left on the team against you.

    If any of what I just said sounds interesting, you should come check out Dodgeball in the little gym, happening every friday. You can gain P.E. credit by signing in to play, which is another reason this committee should be on your radar. Playing dodgeball can indeed be a work-out! Nevertheless, it is up to every individual player to decide to play intensely, or casually. You could play both ways, and can even bring friends/staff to the game. Check it out!

Music at Nova 2014


If you go to Nova and like music, you might be interested or enrolled in some of the various musical classes or committees being offered this semester. Among the things you could involve yourself with are: Band class, Jam class, Music Theory and Composition. You could also join or support the Band Committee, Beats Committee, or even look into starting your own independent music activity.

Now some of these classes and committees might sound the same. Here are some things you should know if you are intrigued. Band class has been offered during the second semester for a long time now. It involves working together with other students in a band, playing instruments and learning/composing songs. Eventually there is a show at the end of the semester. This is a great opportunity for students to learn how to collaborate and get some stage time.

Jam class is a new offering this year. It will follow a more intensive format with students being placed in a band to learn about the simple act of “jamming”, or, walking into a group of individuals with different levels of skill, and playing music together on the same frequency as each other. Arguably this is important to know whether you want to form a band or just play by yourself.

If you are full up on classes, you could instead join a committee. The Band Committee has come back this semester with a vengeance. After ceasing to exist when students last year felt unsupported and unable to keep the committee alive, the band room itself was shut down to students who were not there for math class, and making music at school was shunned. Now we are back with a renewed purpose: To provide norms and procedures to ensure that the band room is used respectfully and properly. Also to provide community space for students to be involved in managing school space and facilitating musical activity among students.

The Band Committee can also mesh well with your schedule if you have signed up for a music class already. There is also The Beats Committee, run by our teacher Ben, and motivated students, this committee provides an invaluable way to learn about making beats, building studio spaces, you can even learn about music promotion, and how to raise funds for your school. Both of these committees provide a space for like-minded individuals interested in either their school, or musical endeavours to come together and produce something good.

Another class on the catalog this semester is Music Theory and Composition. This is perhaps the first time that music theory has been taught at Nova. So if you want to know about how music itself works and what the different elements of it are, try to get yourself in this class before you are 20 deep in the CD with snipers on the roof. Whoops sorry I went off on a tangent there! This is Nate ending my summary of the musical opportunities at Nova that are happening right now!

How Bees Came to Live on Nova’s Roof

Bee Pic Rooftop
The bee committee on Nova’s rooftop.

Did you know Nova has two beehives? There was a committee formed the second semester of the 2012-2013 school year with the goal of acquiring beehives for Nova, and we succeeded! Over five months, and with the vital help of a beekeeper friend of Terrance’s, we applied for and got money from budget committee, ordered disassembled hive parts, constructed the hives, ordered bees, and cleared the legal stuff with the school district.

I’ll give a crash course on honey bees and how the hive we built for them works, and then write about what the bee committee was up to after we got the bees.

Honey bees are an extreme example of a hierarchy. There exists a single queen bee in each hive that rules the droves of other bees with powerful pheromones, in this case a chemical language that communicates what needs to happen in the hive. The queen is also the sole source of new bees; she singlehandedly populates the hive by laying thousands of eggs. Without a queen a hive cannot effectively function, but if the queen dies the hive will respond by raising a new queen from an egg the old queen laid (bees can choose if an egg in its early stages matures into a queen, a worker, or a drone, but that’s another article entirely).

The queen bosses around the worker bees and the drone bees. Workers (always female) and drones (always male) are physically very different and have predetermined roles. The drones exist only to mate with queens from other hives. They do no work, have to be fed by the workers, and cannot sting. The workers are muscle, caretakers, and gatherers for the hive. They fight off threats with their stingers (but they can only sting once because their abdomen is torn off when they try to fly away), take care of queen’s eggs, and collect nectar from flowers (which they eventually turn into honey). As they fly from flower to flower looking for nectar, they collect pollen on their legs (which is also used in the hive as food and glue), and inadvertently transfer it to each flower they visit. And that’s how they pollinate! Without bees a long list of foods would become unavailable.

What we’ve built is an ideal place for this amazing (and in a way, disturbing) insect society to live. There are two main pieces to the popular hive model we’re using, boxes and frames, and it’s all about the frames.

natural bee hiveartificial-honey-comb

Bees in nature that build a hive from scratch create the pictured hexagonal “cells” as multipurpose storage units (Left). With the humanmade frames (Right) we’ve saved them a step and also given ourselves an easy way to observe them. The bees don’t mind if we remove a frame for a short time to examine it. Another purpose of the frames is to preserve “bee space”.

bee box
Some frames from above.


The frames need to be exactly 3/8th’s of an inch apart or the bees will fill in the space between them.

The boxes hold the frames and insulate them when it gets cold. The boxes are stacked vertically (like in the picture at the top of the article) rather than horizontally because queens naturally want to move upwards.

The bees arrived at a farm outside of Seattle in April 2013 in two small boxes with mesh sides. We picked them up over the weekend and took them to school Monday and (in what perhaps wasn’t the best example of safe beekeeping) showed them around. About 1000 worker bees and one queen crawled around in each box. Later that day we introduced them to the boxes we built, which is as simple as taking the lid off the box and shaking bees into it for thirty seconds. Bees swarmed all over the roof and us (in our bee suits). The queen is placed last. Since the bees didn’t yet have a hive to defend, they were passive, despite appearances. Nobody was stung (that day).

After that, we put the lids back on the hives and called it a day. The bees had a conference and, as they do 99% of the time, decided to stay in the hives we built for them.

The rest of the year we periodically went up to check on their progress. We took out frames to examine how many eggs the queen laid, how much honey the workers were producing, and to look for diseases. Sometimes, if our beekeeper instructor deemed it necessary, we reorganized a few frames, since the bees can get confused and work against themselves.

The most exciting thing we did after the introduction was the bee beard. It’s exactly what it sounds like, and you achieve it by putting the queen in a miniature cage, attaching the cage to your chin, and releasing a few hundred worker bees nearby. Having nothing better to do, the workers gather around the queen, which means crawling all over the face of whoever the queen is attached. It had been a running joke since the beginning of the semester, but a brave soul among us (not me, not ever) wanted to do it.

A few days before Summer break we took a frame covered with nurse bees (worker bees who have taken the role of caring for eggs, and are more docile and friendly with the queen) and brushed the bees off into a box. We took the queen from that same hive and put her in our miniature cage, then walked to the brave, soon-to-be-bearded person’s house, which was nearby. We put Vaseline under her nose and eyes to prevent the bees from being pests, she plugged her ears with cotton, and we began. The nurse bees circled our heads, then after about ten minutes started clustering on her chin. Twenty minutes later and she had a fully-fledged bee beard of, as best as I can remember, about 150 bees. Eventually the time came to collect the bees. We had a modified vacuum for that we read about on the Internet, and despite the skepticism of pretty much everyone involved, it didn’t kill a single bee. And once again, nobody got stung.

If you want to visit the bees (in the comforting embrace of a bee suit) email me at carpenters@novafolios.com.


bee sewt

The Nova Project

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