Upper School: 9th-12th

No two students leave NSU University School’s Upper School having traveled the same path. We encourage each student to rise and meet his or her own standards of excellence. What our students share, in the process, is an experience of intellectual challenge and curiosity.

As thinkers and problem solvers, students are asked to stretch beyond their strengths and wrestle with challenging real world problems that do not have easy answers. Upper School students craft individualized academic programs through which they discover their passions as learners and develop their voices as leaders. Our faculty are committed to supporting our students through this discovery process, fostering an experiential, collaborative, and supportive classroom environment in which students shine on intellectual, social, and emotional levels.

Working with teachers who are both accomplished in their fields and student-centered in their approach, Upper School students participate enthusiastically in the classroom environment. In any given day, students explore labs, participate in deep and probing discussions, write critically and creatively, refine their thinking, and learn to solve cutting-edge problems. In fact, students engage in conversations you might hear in college seminars. For example, they don’t just learn the process of protein synthesis; they invent their own systems for modeling the process.

NSU University School’s connection with Nova Southeastern University, Florida’s largest private university, serves as an added educational benefit for our students. This unique affiliation provides students with exceptional academic opportunities and access to world-class NSU scientists, researchers, and distinguished professors, giving students an advantage as they prepare for college and beyond.

Faculty Highlight

Robin Mendelson

The heart of a school is its teachers, and we are fortunate to have some of the greatest educators at NSU University School – one of which being long-serving kindergarten teacher Robin Mendelson. With more than 41 years of teaching under her belt, Mendelson is a valued member of our school community whose passion and commitment to her students and their education has made a world of difference in the lives of many. When walking into her classroom, one thing is certain – you will always find energetic, engaged students exploring all there is to learn in an environment where ideas and contributions are valued.

Read More about Robin Mendelson

Upper School News

Madison Davis

Class of 2022 valedictorian Madison Davis is a NSU University School lifer who experienced all USchool has to offer over the past 14 years. Having started in pre-kindergarten, Madison had the opportunity to grow alongside fellow lifers and navigate school together, forming lifelong connections with friends whom she now considers family. 

Read More about Madison Davis
Nikki Steinberg

Named salutatorian of the Class of 2022, Nikki Steinberg is a proud NSU University School lifer who immersed herself in opportunity and excelled both in and out of the classroom throughout her academic career. Having an early start at USchool, Nikki was exposed to a plethora of diverse courses and programs that helped her realize her love for writing and text analysis. Following her passion, she participated in the NSU Law Fellowship and worked closely with law professors and students. Her experiences competing in a mock trial competition, which she won, and interning at a law office steered her to work toward a career in the legal profession.

Read More about Nikki Steinberg
Andrew Stephens

Inspired by his elementary school teachers, Andrew Stephens felt drawn to the teaching profession ever since the third grade. However, it was not until recently that he decided to pursue the calling. After his mother passed away in 2014, he received a letter from her that expressed how her life had been deeply enriched by all the fascinating things he had taught her and how she believed he was born to teach and hoped he would one day. These last words from his mom gave him the final push to transition from his former position in international higher education to his current role as an Upper School AP and honors psychology teacher.

Read More about Andrew Stephens
Students in our HOSA Future Health Professionals chapter place in top 5 at regional competition

We are so proud to share that 61 students in our USchool HOSA - Future Health Professionals chapter placed in the top 5 after competing in a wide variety of STEM-based competitions at the Broward Regional Conference! Out of the 61 students, 48 placed within the top 3, qualifying them for HOSA's state competition. As a result, USchool scored the most amount of state qualifiers in the region. 

Read More about USchool's HOSA Future Health Professionals Chapter Places in Top 5 at Regional Conference
Students give back as part of NSU's Global Day of Service

As part of Nova Southeastern University’s Global Day of Service, USchool students came together to lend a helping hand in the community by volunteering at service projects across Broward County. They assembled more than 500 meals to feed families in need, participated in beach and neighborhood cleanups, packed pet treats and adoption bags for Broward Animal Care, painted the Davie Woman’s Club 100-year-old building, delivered books to little free libraries in underserved communities, wrote letters to veterans, and more.

Read More about Students Lend a Helping Hand as Part of NSU's Global Day of Service
Inaugural cohort of business fellows

We are proud to introduce our inaugural cohort of business fellows! Through this partnership with the Huizenga College of Business at NSU, students will work directly with professors and students at the college and experience different industries and career opportunities in the subjects of accounting, finance, management, marketing, entrepreneurship, real estate, and sports management.

Read More about New Business Fellowship in Partnership with the Huizenga College of Business at NSU
Senior makes a wave of change with a weekly beach cleanup

Rain or shine, USchool senior and creator of Sunny Isles Beach Cleanup Arina Zhirkova dedicates time every week to giving back to the community and environment by helping protect the ocean from pollution. After realizing how polluted her local beach was, Arina decided to take a stand and organized her very own beach cleanups back in August of 2020. USchool students and community volunteers join Arina in the fight each week, collecting an average of five bags of trash each cleanup. 

Read More about Senior Creates a Wave of Change with Sunny Isles Beach Cleanup Initiative
Student Engineers Artificial Pancreas

Inspired by her sister’s type 1 diabetes diagnosis, freshman Katherine Hernandez received recognition for engineering an artificial pancreas as part of her project for the Broward County Regional Science and Engineering Fair last school year, earning her second place in the biomedical engineering category. Guided by her mentor and former eighth grade teacher Ms. Jessica Lanzetta, Katherine worked closely with our robotics team throughout her "Highs and Lows of Diabetes" project to build a breadboard circuit and used her sister’s blood sugar levels as a guide when testing her hypothesis.

Read More about Student Engineers Artificial Pancreas
800 Canned Goods Donated to Overtown Food Pantry

NSU University School’s Homecoming canned goods collection was a huge success! More than 800 canned goods and non-perishable items were collected from our families and delivered to a new food pantry in Overtown sponsored by the non-profit organization, Food Rescue US - SouthFlorida. USchool’s Director of Parent and Alumni Relations Wynne Avellanet, who volunteers as the Food Rescue US Broward County Coordinator, stocked the shelves with the support of other organization members. The pantry was unveiled to food insecure residents living in Overtown who were invited to “shop” the pantry and gather items to take home. 

Read More about Canned Goods Collection a Huge Success
Dr. Rafael Arechabaleta

Entering his 22nd year of teaching at NSU University School, Upper School Physics and Calculus Teacher Dr. Rafael Arechabaleta is no stranger to the USchool community. Drawn by the uniqueness of our school, Dr. Arechabaleta joined the USchool team early in his teaching career shortly after moving to the United States from Cuba. He has made significant contributions to our school over the years and has had a lasting impact in the lives of his students through his instructional approach and sense of humor, helping create a comfortable learning environment.  

Read More about Dr. Rafael Arechabaleta
AP Microbiology Students Grow Bacteria from Soil in Search of Antibiotics

In collaboration with Nova Southeastern University undergraduate students and Tiny Earth representatives, students in AP microbiology are growing bacteria from soil in search of new antibiotics. Undergraduate students at NSU helped our Upper School students create anti-fungal Petri dishes that allowed them to grow and store bacteria. Students then performed serial dilutions to lower the concentration of bacteria in the soil and plated them across different Petri dishes to observe growth.

Read More about AP Microbiology Students Grow Bacteria from Soil in Search of New Antibiotics
Four Students Named National Merit Semifinalists

Four of our academically talented seniors - Madison Draizin, Zachary Hardgrave, Nikki Steinberg, and Brian Zhi - were selected as 2022 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists! They are among 16,000 of the highest-scoring program entrants, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, who qualified as Semifinalists for their exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies.

Read More about Four Students Named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists
Advice from a Shark

Whether you are a new or returning Shark, you may be wondering what to expect at NSU University School. To give you insight, we asked students to share one piece of advice they would give to future students. Who better to get advice from than USchool students themselves?

Read More about Advice from a Shark
Butterfly Garden and Vivarium

Written by: NSU University School Sophomore Enoch Wong

Completing work in a classroom is a common and traditional mode of learning, but Lower School science teacher Michele Garren at NSU University School (USchool) utilizes the school’s Lichtenfeld Family Butterfly Garden and Vivarium to help educate her students in a hands-on way about butterflies and the plants that attract them. The garden itself was designed and planted by senior Duncan Jurman and is now maintained by Upper School students. The purpose of the garden is to provide hands-on learning experiences for students. This mode of learning has enhanced students’ interest in environmental science. Recently, I had an opportunity to interview Ms. Garren and talk about how she uses the garden to enhance student learning.

Read More about Interview with Lower School Teacher Michele Garren on Outdoor Learning Using the Lichtenfeld Family Butterfly Garden and Vivarium
Rebecca Wolf

Rebecca Wolf, a salutatorian for the Class of 2021, has spent her 14-year educational journey at NSU University School where she dedicated herself to academic excellence and community service, building lifelong friendships and close relationships with her teachers along the way. Rebecca was always encouraged by role models in our school community. As a first grader, Rebecca remembers admiring the fourth grade students who led the annual Make-a-Wish fundraiser, marveling at what they had accomplished. Since then, she has become a student leader, serving as both vice president of the senior class and vice president of fundraising for the National Honor Society.    

Read More about Rebecca Wolf
Risa Pollak

Starting NSU University School in the third grade not only gave Class of 2021 salutatorian Risa Pollak time to acclimate to the environment and experience all it has to offer, but also an opportunity to discover her passion for math, science, and dance. After participating in math fellows and taking chemistry, biology, and physics at multiple levels, Pollak quickly realized her love of learning, especially in these topics. As co-president of Math Circles for three years, she empowered young girls in grades 3-5 to pursue STEM education. 

Read More about Risa Pollak
Ari Arias

When senior Ari Arias first walked through our doors, he embarked on a journey toward excellence. Arias, a salutatorian for the Class of 2021, strived to lead by example throughout his academic career at NSU University School with the hope of inspiring others through his work ethic, commitment to community, and academic integrity.

Read More about Ari Arias
Peyton Ronkin

There’s no question that students have faced unprecedented challenges this past year, but senior Peyton Ronkin did not let that get in the way of finishing her final year at NSU University School strong. Since we last interviewed Ronkin back in June for her recognition as a 2020 Bank of America Student Leader, she has earned numerous additional awards, both for her academics and extracurricular involvements, including the title of class co-valedictorian.

Read More about Peyton Ronkin
Duncan Jurman

It is said that deep interests that present at an early age often stay with us throughout life, which is certainly true for Class of 2021 co-valedictorian Duncan Jurman who developed an interest in butterflies at the age of four and has continued to fuel that passion to this day. As a student in our early childhood program, teachers quickly noticed Jurman’s enthusiasm for butterflies and sought out ways for him to further develop his passion through unique experiential learning opportunities at NSU University School. 

Read More about Duncan Jurman
USchool Students Donate Items for Pets in Need

Our schoolwide Pet Supply Drive was a success! Thank you to all those who generously donated items for animals in need at the Humane Society of Broward County. Students in our Upper School Paws with a Cause Club delivered two carloads of items, which will help feed and care for countless animals at the shelter until they are found good homes. We love to see our students at all grade levels work together to give back to the community!

Read More about USchool Students Donate Items for Pets in Need
JA Fellows Introduce ClippedNotes

Introducing ClippedNotes, a clip-on whiteboard attachment for laptops created by our Junior Achievement of South Florida fellows! Advised by Upper School Business and Entrepreneurship Instructor Sonja Houston, this year’s team of student entrepreneurs has been working diligently to design, develop, and market ClippedNotes, which features a 3M whiteboard with an attached dry-erase marker that has a built-in eraser, making it easy to jot down important reminders, to-do lists, notes, and more!

Read More about JA Fellows Introduce ClippedNotes
Senior Henry H. Recognized as Student of the Year

And the Student of the Year Award goes to...senior Henry H.! Congratulations on being selected as a recipient of Nova Southeastern University’s 23rd Annual Student Life Achievement Awards! Affectionately known as the STUEY’s, this awards ceremony celebrates NSU’s best in Academic Excellence, Student-Centered, Integrity, Innovation, Opportunity, Scholarship/Research, Diversity, and Community.

Read More about Senior Henry H. Recognized as Student of the Year
USchool's Speech and Debate Team is Headed to States!

Twenty-one members of our Speech and Debate team are headed to the Florida Forensic League Varsity State Championship! Not only did we have 21 out of 28 students qualify for states this past weekend, but our team members also won TWO first place championships at the Stanford Invitational where they competed against students from more than 350 schools! What a FINtastic weekend it was for the team. Congratulations, Sharks! 

Read More about USchool's Speech and Debate Team is Headed to States!
USchool's HOSA - Future Health Professionals Chapter Wins Big

Students in our new Upper School HOSA - Future Health Professionals chapter won big at the Florida HOSA Award Ceremony! Twenty-seven of our students placed in the top 3 in their respective categories and qualified for state competition! For the past decade, the Broward region has been known to send the greatest number of students to both state and international competitions, and we are so proud of the tremendous success and top rankings our students achieved in their very first year as part of one of the most competitive regions in Florida.

Read More about USchool's HOSA - Future Health Professionals Chapter Wins Big
Medical Fellows Become CPR Certified

Upper School students in the NSU Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine Fellowship program took part in an interactive basic life support training and became CPR certified after learning and practicing how to perform chest compressions properly, operate an automated external defibrillator (AED), promptly recognize several life-threatening situations, and other lifesaving techniques.

Read More about Medical Fellows Become CPR Certified
Class of 2021 Early College Acceptances

Starting off the year with exciting news – many Class of 2021 seniors have received their Early College Acceptances! MIT, Stanford University, Yale University, University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern University, Duke University, Vanderbilt University, WashU, and Cornell University are among a long list of exceptional colleges/universities our seniors have been proudly accepted to thus far.

Read More about Class of 2021 Early College Acceptances
Meet Peyton Ronkin, 2020 Bank of America Student Leader

NSU University School (USchool) junior Peyton Ronkin began her educational journey here as a student in our Early Childhood program. Ronkin has excelled academically and significantly contributed to the USchool and local community through various initiatives over the past 13 years. Utilizing her passion for baking to give back, she initiated a community service project, Dipped with Love, in 2015 for her Bat Mitzvah to support the efforts of cancer charities. Ronkin started baking homemade chocolate-covered pretzels to raise money for I Care I Cure, a charity created in memory of a former student who was diagnosed with leukemia that seeks to find gentler cures for childhood cancers.

Read More about Meet Peyton Ronkin, 2020 Bank of America Student Leader
Ari Arias

Since he first began in the Lower School, junior Ari Arias has immersed himself in the NSU University School (USchool) experience for the past 10 years and thrived. A benefit of an early start at USchool, Arias appreciates having spent his academic career in a supportive community, which has made a profound impact in his life. Having taken advantage of various experiential learning opportunities, Arias believes that this learning style is the most successful in keeping students engaged and helping them discover their passions.

Read More about Ari Arias
Ronnie Shashoua

Throughout her nine years as a student at NSU University School, Class of 2020 salutatorian Ronnie Shashoua has served as an exemplary leader. Practicing the values of hard work and responsibility, Shashoua has taken initiative in creating positive change by using the tools USchool has provided to share her knowledge and skills with others in an effort to empower those in the community.

Read More about Ronnie Shashoua
Sivan Ben-David

Senior Sivan Ben-David is an NSU University School (USchool) "lifer" who began her educational journey as a Shark in junior kindergarten. In the past 14 years, Ben-David has proven herself to be a stellar student and individual, embodying USchool's mission of inclusivity and personalized excellence in academics, extracurriculars, and service. Her strong work ethic, instilled by her family at a young age, has led her to numerous impressive achievements, such as being named co-valedictorian for the Class of 2020.

Read More about Sivan Ben-David
Melanie Stone

Senior Melanie Stone first began her educational journey at NSU University School 14 years ago and has seized every opportunity afforded to her along the way. At a young age, Stone was provided a strategic academic advantage having started in our Early Childhood Program. Over the years, she has flourished as a student and become a dedicated, hard-working leader driven to excel both in and out of the classroom.

Read More about Melanie Stone
Bella Stroup

In her time at NSU University School (USchool), senior Bella Stroup has truly led a life of service, looking for any way she can use her voice to help those in need while also remaining focused on achieving her academic goals. In Middle School, Stroup recalls moments where she and her classmates had the opportunity to hear from inspiring speakers who shared stories about hardships they have endured over the years in an effort to help students make better decisions in life and understand the importance of respect and compassion for one another, regardless of personal differences. Their uplifting messages helped Stroup realize how someone's story can significantly make an impact for individuals who may be experiencing similar situations, encouraging her to share her own life story with others.

Read More about Bella Stroup
Kylie Cohen

Junior Kylie Cohen joined NSU University School (USchool) her freshman year of high school and has served as a leader and positive role model for her peers ever since. Throughout the past three years, Cohen has taken full advantage of the extracurricular and experiential learning opportunities available at USchool, which have helped her discover and develop her passions, including helping others and working with children.

Read More about Kylie Cohen
Associate Head of Academic Affairs Robyn Kaiyal Completes the 2019 National Inclusive Excellence Leadership Academy

Congratulations to Associate Head of Academic Affairs Robyn Kaiyal for completing the 2019 National Inclusive Excellence Leadership Academy (NIXLA) – an online strategic diversity leadership development and institutional transformation program. The immersive, highly selective five-week program offered Kaiyal an invaluable opportunity to further develop her skills as a leader and identify powerful institutional strategies that support diversity, equity, and inclusion at NSU University School.

Read More about Associate Head of Academic Affairs Robyn Kaiyal Completes the 2019 National Inclusive Excellence Leadership Academy
Alexander Wertman '19

As an NSU University School student for the last four years, Alexander Wertman's time in the Upper School has been nothing short of a home run. At USchool, Wertman has been able to cultivate his passion and curiosity for STEM-related subjects, hone his technical and leadership abilities on the baseball field, and serve as an inclusive, personable role model for other students. His hard work has culminated this year by recently being named a National Merit Finalist and the Salutatorian for the Class of 2019.

Read More about Alexander Wertman '19