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Enriching the Student Experience Beyond the Classroom
Posted 12/12/22

Each year thousands of students in Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) excitedly load into big yellow buses and visit a variety of organizations throughout Orange County and around the world to gain first-hand experiences in putting into practice what they learn in the classroom.

These student experiences further our goal to graduate students with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to achieve significant career, educational, civic, and personal goals to enrich our society. These purposeful field trips, from elementary to high school, serve an important role in providing students immersive hands-on learning while building confidence and deepening their understanding of concepts taught in the classroom.
South Coast Repertory

While there are a multitude of opportunities for student experiences outside of the classroom, below are just a few highlights from this school year:

The Arts

NMUSD third grade students were invited to South Coast Repertory to attend a performance of Snow White. This interactive theatrical experience featured a modified version of Grimm’s fairy tale and concluded with students cheering as the curtains came down. In preparation for attending this performance, teachers offered classroom activities that included reading the story, discussing folktales, prose, and production in addition to immersing the students in theater vocabulary.  

The Class Act program offered by Segerstrom Center for the Arts allows elementary students to form a relationship with a symphony musician who serves as a teaching artist presenting lessons to each grade level about the theme and featured composer as well as details about the musician’s preferred instrument and career. Classroom teachers receive specifically designed lessons, aligned with state arts standards, that feature activities, audio recordings of ensemble performances, and interactive presentations. The program culminates with students attending a performance by the Pacific Symphony.

Middle and high school students also have opportunities to participate in field trips to numerous performances and competitions in vocal and instrumental music, color guard, dance, theater and band.

This year, Newport Harbor High School students will perform vocally at Carnegie Hall and will collaborate with professional Broadway cast and crew. Students will also watch professional performance preparation and grow their own performance skills through feedback and collaboration with Broadway performers and behind the scenes crew members. 

Many of our student musicians also perform at competitions and athletic events as part of band and color guard. 

Students at Tanaka Farms

Visiting local farms is a highlight for many elementary students. In the classroom, kindergarten students learn the difference between living and non-living things, and inquiry through observation. When visiting the local farm, they see first-hand how food is grown, harvested, and they get to taste a variety of vegetables and fruits. 

Students in first through third grade visit the farm after learning economic concepts, specialized job duties, and plant and animal life science. Farm visits solidify their understanding of the economics behind growing and selling produce while allowing them to observe different jobs, consider plants and animal interactions, and discover why bees are vitally important to the food chain. 

The Environmental Nature Center offers a traveling naturalist program for students in first grade through high school. Their unique programs support Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for each grade level, and allow students to attend year after year to build on previously learned topics. Designed to enhance the topics students have learned in the classroom, the visits include hands-on activity and observation on the trails for lower elementary students, environmental science careers exploration including botany, geology, ecology and more for middle school students, and field research and population diversity assessments of plants and animals in different ecosystems for high school students.

One of the most anticipated science enrichment programs is sixth grade science camp. For many, this is their first “sleep-away” camp where students gain independence, self-confidence, and life skills like packing and problem-solving. Outdoor science camp uses NGSS on the trails, which includes an interactive outdoor learning environment emphasizing botany, geology, astronomy, meteorology, ecology, habitats, adaptations, energy and conservation.  

History and Social Studies

In fourth grade, as students learn about the California Missions, several campuses plan visits to the Mission San Juan Capistrano. History comes alive when students see actual artifacts they have learned about in the classroom including tools, plants, games or musical instruments used by the Gabrielino and Juaneño tribes. 

As students enter middle and high school, field trips provide opportunities to sharpen debate skills at competitions. Students from Corona del Mar High School’s award winning Model UN team travel nationally to participate in the model United Nations.

Other high school students are scheduled to travel internationally as a deeper-dive into language acquisition, cultural, historical, and environmental knowledge building. Approved trips this year include France, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland.

AthleticsNHHS CIF Football Win

Participating in athletic competitions provides students with opportunities to focus on physical fitness, teamwork, sportsmanship, and school pride. Student athletes travel locally and statewide to participate in athletic training and competitions. In October, Newport Harbor High School’s water polo team won the CIF Open Division championship. Throughout NMUSD’s history, our athletic teams have amassed more than 150 CIF Championships and we look forward to more wins this year. 

By supplementing classroom instruction with student experiences such as these, students solidify their knowledge and become active participants in their learning. From a kindergarten student on the farm to picking carrots, to a sixth grader attending his first overnight camp, to a senior in high school practicing the French learned in the classroom by ordering food at a restaurant in Paris, these enriching experiences have become a highly anticipated, appreciated, and vital part of the enhancing the student experience.