Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ about Nova and Enrollment Kindergarten FAQ

How was Nova Classical Academy started?

Nova Classical Academy was founded by three St. Paul parents: Elisa Knudson, Simon Fung, and Teresa Schulte. These parents saw a need in the public school system for the kind of rigorous classical education typically found only in private schools. They also saw a need for a school that acknowledged parents as the primary educators of their children and which sought to assist them in that task. Nova Classical Academy opened in the fall of 2003 with approximately 165 students in grades K–6. Grades 7 and 8 were added in 2004 and 2005. Grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 were added in 2009, 2010, and 2011, and 2012.

Please see our History page for further details.

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What is a charter school?

A charter school is a public school that receives public education funding and is open to all children in the state in which it is located. In general, a charter school is independent of the local school district, nonsectarian, tuition-free, and governed by a board of directors elected from among the parents and staff of the school as well as interested community members. In return for increased accountability for results, charter schools are free of many regulations governing traditional public schools. Charter schools must have an authorizer to oversee these accountability efforts. Minnesota passed the first charter school law in 1991 and saw the opening of the first charter school in the nation in 1992. Now, a vast majority of states and the District of Columbia have laws allowing the creation of charter schools. In Minnesota, charter schools are part of the state’s system of public education.

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Who authorizes Nova?

Charter schools may be authorized by schools boards, institutions of higher learning and certain nonprofit corporations. Contracts with authorizers must be examined and renewed every three years. Nova is authorized by Friends of Education, a nonprofit corporation organized specifically to sponsor knowledge-based charter schools. Friends of Education authorizes a number of other charter schools in the Twin Cities.
Friends of Education
200 East Lake Street
Wayzata, MN 55391

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How many students attend Nova?

We currently enroll 950+ students in grades K–12. We have four sections of Kindergarten, three sections each of grades 1–10, and three sections each of grades 11–12.

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What are the section sizes?

There are 20 students in each Kindergarten class; 26 in grades 1–12.

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Does Nova charge tuition?

No. Nova Classical Academy is a public charter school and is funded by general education revenues just like any other public school. We do invite parents to participate in fundraising activities, and some non-required programs are fee-based. The purchase of Nova uniforms is the responsibility of the family. Nova does provide uniform assistance for families that qualify for free- or reduced-price lunch.


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What are the school hours and calendar?

Classes begin at the Lower School (Kindergarten–5) at 8.40 am and continue through 3.40 pm, with drop off as early at 8.20am. Upper School classes (grades 6-12) begin at 8.40 am and continue through 3.45 pm.

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Do St. Paul students get preference for enrollment?

No. With limited exceptions, charter schools do not have geographic preference areas. Any Minnesota child in the offered grades is eligible to enroll, but parents must apply for admission for their children each school year. Charter schools do, by law, recognize sibling preference, and may also recognize staff-child preference; Nova gives preference for enrollment to siblings of Nova students first, and then to children of Nova staff. Please see our application process for further information regarding deadlines and lottery procedures.

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How does sibling preference work?

Minnesota charter school law states that siblings of students currently enrolled in a charter school shall have a preference for enrollment. Siblings of students that have been offered and have accepted a place at Nova will receive sibling preference status on the day their sibling begins attending class at Nova, typically on the first day of school in the fall. Enrollment for siblings of Nova students is dependent on the valid application for enrollment and availability of a place or places in classrooms.

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Does Nova have any admission requirements?

There are no academic or geographic admission requirements for enrollment or admission to Nova, but, as stated above, the application must be made in writing and applicants must be current residents of the state of Minnesota. In addition, applicants who are admitted are asked to sign a partnership agreement. Grade placement and promotion will be determined on the basis of skills assessments.

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How do I get my child on a Nova waiting list?

Nova’s on-time enrollment seasons typically run from November 1 through the last Friday in January. The earliest that applications are accepted for any given school year is during the enrollment season just prior to the start of the school year for which an applicant is applying. A student application must be submitted during the on-time enrollment season in order to be part of the grade-level lotteries that generate grade-level waiting lists for the following school year. Applications received after the on-time enrollment deadline will be placed at the bottom of the appropriate grade-level waiting list. Applications are available in the Enrollment section of Nova’s website and in the school’s Main Office.

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Do Nova’s waiting lists carry over from year to year?

Nova’s waiting lists do not carry over from year to year. Any waiting list applicant that does not receive a place at the school during the school year to which they have applied will need to submit a new, on-time application in order to be included in the grade-level lotteries for the following school year.

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Does Nova have a gifted program?

Nova is committed to providing appropriately challenging studies to gifted students within the framework of our classical curriculum. Our curriculum is accelerated and enriched and meets the needs of most moderately gifted students. In addition, Nova uses ability grouping to ensure that all students are comfortably challenged. Parents and students share a large part of the responsibility for making this successful.

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Does Nova provide Special Education services?

Yes. Nova employs a full-time Director of Student Services and three full-time special education teachers for the provision of all Special Education services for our students, as well as a full-time English Language Learner teacher and a full-time School Psychologist.

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What is the student demographics at Nova?

Information on Nova’s student demographics, including student population, Special Education, and Free and Reduced Price Lunch percentages, are available on the Minnesota Department of Education’s website. (Search for “Nova Classical Academy” to see K–5 data; search for “Nova Classical Academy Upper School” to see 6–12 data.)

District Demographics Reported to MDE for 2018:
White: 72.2%
Asian: 9.6%
Black: 6.0%
Hispanic: 5.7%
American Indian: .3%

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Does Nova have a band and/or orchestra?

Playing an instrument is not only personally enriching, but research indicates that it helps with academics, especially math. Instrumental instruction and band are offered as extracurricular activities at Nova through the Hill-Murray Parish Band Program. Private string lessons and String Orchestra are also offered at Nova. These are fee-based programs. Band lessons take place during the school day; string lessons take place before and after school.

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What specialists does Nova have?

We employ specialists in the areas of Art, Latin, Math, Music, Physical Education, and Reading.

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Does Nova have computers?

Nova students have access to computers in all classrooms as needed as well as in an Upper School Computer Lab and mobile laptop computer labs. Computers are an essential part of schools today—for teaching, research, communication, and presentations. Nova does not provide students with individual electronic learning devices except on an as-needed basis. Computers are used sparingly in classroom teachings, mainly as a tool to help accomplish other academic goals.

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What foreign languages are offered at Nova?

All students study Latin on a daily basis beginning in third grade and continue through grade eight. Students in Kindergarten through grade two receive limited instruction in Latin. Once students enter into the School of Rhetoric (grade 9) and also demonstrate proficiency equivalent to Latin III, they have the option of continuing with Latin. Nova also offers Spanish and Greek. Students new to Nova’s high school that does not have previous Latin instruction have the option to fulfill their three-year Latin requirement in one year by completing a SuperLatin course.

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Why does Nova require students to take Latin?

Latin is an enclitic language, which means that one can tell the function of the words from the letters in it. This means that Latin is highly organized. The study of any enclitic language lends to the development of an orderly mind which seeks out categories and systems. In addition, studies have shown that students that study Latin perform better than students without Latin instruction on the verbal portion of the SAT. Because Latin is the foundation of the Romance languages, students that have studied Latin also have a solid basis from which to move into the study of French, German, Italian, and Spanish, as well as into studying the technical vocabulary of the sciences.

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Will older students that begin at Nova be behind in Latin?

Students entering Nova in grades 3–5 will join their classmates in Latin. Students entering Nova in grades 6–12 without prior Latin instruction are placed in Latin I with other students their age or close to their age or have the option of taking “SuperLatin” to accelerate the completion of their Latin requirement. We have found that the majority of students new to Nova transition quite easily into Latin, but various resources are available to assist students that may have difficulty.

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Does Nova have a gym?

Nova has a full-sized gymnasium and uses green space around the building for Physical Education and nearby parks for outdoor sports and activities.

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What are the extracurricular and athletic activities offered?

Nova currently offers students the opportunity to participate in many athletic, scholastic, and non-scholastic activities. The following is a sample: Baseball, Basketball, Biology Club, Chess Club, Choirs and Vocal Ensembles, Cross Country, Debate, Drama Club, Fencing Club, Fencing Team, Film Club, First Lego Robotics League, Golf Club, Junior First Lego Robotics League, Hockey (Boys and Girls co-ops), Knightly News, Mad Science Club, Mock Trial, Model UN, One Act Plays, Ski and Snowboard Club, Soccer, Tennis Club, Theater, Track and Field, Volleyball, Yoga Club, and Young Rembrandt’s Art Club.

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Does Nova offer transportation?

Nova provides transportation at no cost to any St. Paul student resident who lives more than two miles from school. We also offer bus service for a fee to students who live within the two-mile limit. Students that live outside of St. Paul may bus from an existing St. Paul Nova bus stop, but families are responsible for getting children to that bus stop. In addition, a number of Nova families carpool from locations around the Twin Cities metro area.

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Does Nova have a hot lunch program?

Yes. Nova contracts with CKC Good Food, a Minnesota-based food service management company, for daily catered lunch services. Nova’s hot-lunch program is optional and fee-based. Vegetarian and pork-free meals are offered.

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Do Nova students wear uniforms?

Yes. We believe that orderly classrooms begin with orderly students. Nova has a clear uniform code and offers two uniform vendors from which to purchase logo Nova uniform items: Donald’s Uniform and Land’s End. Standard, non-logo uniform items may be purchased at any store as long as they are in compliance with Nova’s uniform policy. Both vendors have our current list of grade level required items by simply referencing our school and location.

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Does Nova provide before- and after-school care?

Nova offers ScholarZone: a fee-based before-and after-school care to students in Kindergarten through grade eight in our school building. Nova parents interested in before- and/or after-school care for their children arrange care directly with the school.


Kindergarten FAQ

How long is the day for Kindergarteners?

Nova offers a tuition-free, full-day Kindergarten program. Although Nova’s Kindergarten program is a full-day program, parents may make arrangements with the child’s teacher to pick up their child consistently at noon. Nova’s Kindergarten begins at 8.40 am and ends at 3.40 pm.

What are the age requirements for Kindergarten?

State law requires that Kindergarten students must attain the age of five prior to or on September 1 of the enrollment year, unless the local school board has adopted a policy for early enrollment in select cases. The Board of Nova Classical Academy does allow families to apply for Early Kindergarten Admission. Please see the adopted Early Admission to Kindergarten Guidelines.

What is the Kindergarten class size?

Nova has four Kindergarten classrooms with 20 students in each class.

What is the morning Kindergarten schedule?

Morning Circle Time
Language Arts
Oratory/Virtue Education
Art or Music
Guided/Independent Practice in Core Subjects

What is the afternoon Kindergarten schedule?
12–3.40 pm
Rest Time
Read Aloud
Gym or Recess
Guided/Independent Practice in Core Subjects
Large Motor Skills Practice Time

What does Classical Education look like in Kindergarten?

The curriculum is language intensive with a primary focus on reading. Individual reading instruction is provided for all students. The students are also given many opportunities to memorize facts. The curriculum is very rigorous and the teachers have high expectations for all students. Nova provides the Kindergarten students with a balance of whole-group instruction, independent work time, and learning lab time. The academic needs of all students are met through a multi-sensory, direct instruction approach to reading, writing, and math. The students also learn about the virtues of Justice, Temperance, Prudence, and Fortitude.

Do Kindergartners have homework?

Yes, daily homework is mandatory for all students. Homework is a review of the letters or phonograms the students practiced in class that day. Homework is not meant to be difficult for the Kindergarten students and it should not take more than five minutes. Parents are also expected to be reading out loud to their children every single day.

What is the cost of Nova’s Kindergarten Program?

Nova’s Kindergarten program is tuition-free.

Do you have Kindergarten classroom volunteers?

Parents and grandparents are welcome to volunteer their time and talents in the classroom, especially as reading volunteers.

Where do students go on field trips?

Nova students take educational field trips during the year. Kindergarten students will go to the Carpenter Nature Center in the fall and to the Minnesota Zoo in the spring.

What skills does a child need to have to be ready for Kindergarten at Nova?

Your child should be able to:

  • Use developmentally appropriate small motor skills: hold a pencil, use scissors, color inside the lines, etc.
  • Separate from his/her parents without becoming emotional;
  • Dress his or her self (put on a coat, zip, snap, and button);
  • Follow verbal directions without numerous reminders;
  • Work with other children in a cooperative manner;
  • Demonstrate engaged concentration for a minimum of 15 minutes;
  • Be self-motivated towards learning;
  • Sit and maintain attention while you are reading and be able to answer questions when the story is complete (recall details, the sequence of events, etc.).

Ask a Question

If you have further questions, please contact Melissa Guertin, at

If you have questions about Early Kindergarten Admission, please contact Brooke Tousignant at

Nova Classical Academy seeks to enroll a diverse and representative student body, welcoming applicants regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, disability status, socio-economic status, creed, and religion.