Frequently Asked Questions
Many of these questions have been asked by parents considering enrolling their children at NCA International. We hope that you will find this information helpful!
Do students wear uniforms? What are the uniforms? Where can I buy them?
All schools in Nicaragua use generally the same uniform -- navy blue and white. NCA International students wear navy blue pants, shorts or skirts and a white polo shirt embroidered with the NCA logo. You can purchase the shirts in the NCA office ($12), and the pants, shorts or skirts are commonly available in Nicaragua or can also be purchased out of country. It is also possible to purchase a standard white uniform polo shirt and bring it to one of several local stores to have the logo embroidered ($2-$3). Shoes can be black, white, gray or any combination; all types of close-toed shoes (including athletic shoes) are permitted as long as they do not have significant amounts of other colors.
The P.E. uniform is separate and can only be purchased in the school office ($7 for t-shirts and $7 for shorts). Students in preschool and elementary wear their P.E. uniform all day twice a week; students in secondary change clothes for P.E. and wear their regular uniform for the rest of the classes.
Most Fridays are Color Days, on which students can pay C$10 córdobas (less than $0.40) to Student Council (to provide funding for student activities) and wear casual clothes.
More information on the school dress code and uniforms is available in section 6 of our Student-Parent Handbook, which is available on our Parent Resources page.
What supplies do we need to purchase? Where can we buy them?
Most of the supplies can be easily purchased in Nicaragua. If you are moving from a different country, feel free to get some of the supplies there as well. Items that expatriate families often purchase before moving to Nicaragua (for quality and price) are backpacks, lunch boxes (if they will not eat at the cafeteria) and graphing calculators for certain high school math classes. The list is updated each year during the month of May, but there are not usually major changes from one year to the next. The current Supplies List and many other resources are available on our Parent Resources page.
What is the school calendar like?
We follow a North American calendar. Classes usually begin in the second week of August. Semester break coincides with Christmas vacation, allowing for about 3 weeks vacation. The school year usually ends during the first week of June. The school calendar is available on our Parent Resources page.
Can students transfer from other schools in the United States? Can students easily transfer back to schools in the United States?
Absolutely! In many regards, NCA International is basically like a school in the United States and our curriculum matches very well (with a lot of international enrichment). As international families move to Nicaragua or return to North America, students transfer to/from NCA with no difficulties whatsoever. We can also easily accommodate students who transfer mid-year in the same way as students moving from one school district to another.
Where do NCA International graduates attend university?
NCA International is fully accredited in both the United States (with both ACSI accreditation and regional accreditation) and Nicaragua (authorized by the Ministry of Education). This allows our graduates to be accepted into colleges and universities almost anywhere worldwide.
In the last 5 years, 90% of NCA graduates have enrolled directly into college or university (58% in United States, 24% in Nicaragua, 4% in Asia, and 4% in Canada). 4% of our graduates have immediately enrolled in military service, and 6% have followed other plans. 90% of our recent graduates have said they were much better prepared for college than their college classmates who graduated from other high schools.
Recent graduates have been accepted to the following colleges and universities: Abilene Christian, Academy of Arts University, Bentley, Calvin, Case Western, Cedarville, Christopher New Port, Colby Sawyer, Covenant , Creighton, Davidson, Dordt, Drake, Drexel, Eastern, Flagler, Florida Atlantic, George Fox, Goshen, Harvard, Holt International Business School, Illinois, Johnson and Wales, Keiser, Kenyon, La Salle, Lasell, Loyola, Lynn, Maryland, McMaster , Mercyhurst, New England, North Park, Oneonta State, Pacific Lutheran, Peking, Redeemer, Ringling College of Art and Design, Rollins, Rosemont , RuPaP, Savannah College of Art and Design, Seattle Pacific, Shanghai U of Finance and Economics, South Methodist, Southwestern Assemblies of God, St. Edwards, St. Mary's, Trinity Lutheran, Trinity Western, U Mass Dartmouth, U of Evansville, U of International Business and Trade, U of New Orleans, U of Tampa, U of Virginia, U of Washington, U of Western Ontario, UAM, UAM Cuse, UCA, UCC, UNI, Waterloo, Wilfred Laurier, Zamorano.
What is NCA's policy regarding use of technology in the classroom?
NCA International believes firmly in utilizing technology as best as possible to improve student learning. All classrooms are equipped with ceiling-mount projectors, DVD players and sound systems. Many also have interactive whiteboard technology (Mimio) and document cameras. We have two computer labs and one mobile set of laptops, and a WiFi network that covers our entire campus.
We also believe that student-controlled technology does not automatically improve learning, and at many times can jeopardize the learning environment. For this reason, it is our policy that students may not use electronics (phones, tablets, laptops, etc.) throughout the school day (7:30 to 2:30) except when teachers specifically allow them for class assignments. In this case, teachers provide 50-minute internet access vouchers to students for use during a specific class activity.
Students and parents can access our online database for homework assignments, grades, and other relevant school information. We are also using Google Apps for Education and Google Classroom for all staff and all secondary students.
How does lunch work?
About half of our students eat lunch at the NCA cafeteria, and about half bring their lunches from home. We serve freshly prepared hot meals five days a week. The menu is published online through our school database system and includes healthy, balanced lunches and snacks. Lunch time is staggered for elementary and secondary students. There are also two microwaves available to heat up food. The cost of lunch is about $2.50 for a large portion and $2.00 for a small portion, plus the cost of a drink. We strongly encourage all families to use a pre-paid lunch card system to avoid the possibility of students losing their lunch money and for faster payment in the lunch line.
My kids don't speak Spanish. How does that work at NCA?
Our desire (and we hope yours!) is that all of our students will become fluent in both Spanish and English. English is an entrance requirement except in preschool. NCA International offers Spanish at 5 different levels:
- Beginner SLL
- Intermediate SLL
- Advanced SLL
Regular: Since over half of our students are first-language Spanish speakers, our regular Spanish classes are taught at a very high level (parallel to the English classes) and designed to help our students fully develop their Spanish language arts skills.
Spanish Language Learning (SLL): For students who are still learning the Spanish language, we have three levels of small-group Spanish classes starting with beginner (for students who don't speak any Spanish), intermediate and advanced. These classes have a strong focus on conversational abilities, vocabulary enrichment, and developing sentence structure. Most of these groups have between 2 and 5 students with a similar level of Spanish abilities.
Mainstream: When students are ready and will benefit from a higher level environment, they will be moved into the mainstream classroom (with the fluent speakers) but will have separate homework and evaluation expectations appropriate for their level. This approach is designed to catalyze their Spanish language acquisition and strengthen high-level peer interaction.
In 11th and 12th grades, students take AP Spanish Language and Composition and AP Spanish Literature and Culture, which allow them to receive college/university credit during their last two years of high school.
Does NCA have support for students with disabilities?
For many years, NCA has offered support through the use of IEPs and student time with our learning resources teacher. We are happy to announce that beginning in 2015, NCA International is developing a new program called the SOAAR (Students of All Abilities Recognized) Program. We believe that all children are capable of learning, yet we understand that children may need various levels of support in order to be successful in the classroom. The SOAAR Program at NCA seeks to provide individualized support for children with disabilities, while including all children within the general education classroom to the fullest extent possible. Individual Education Programs (IEPs) will shape the educational goals for your child, and will outline which supports are needed in order for your child to reach his or her goals each academic school year. We invite you to explore what SOAAR has to offer your child, and complete the SOAAR Application to enroll your child in the SOAAR program at NCA.
Is there a church that has services in English?
Yes, there is. International Christian Fellowship (ICF) is an interdenominational fellowship of Christian believers praying, praising and worshiping together. This church family is what makes it possible for many missionaries to have the support and network of friends that we need to keep doing God's work here in Nicaragua. Although it is not part of NCA International, it was founded by the same people who founded NCA and meets on NCA International's campus. Its services are on Sunday Mornings at 8:30 a.m. (early enough so that people have the option to go to other Spanish churches after ICF). For more information, visit www.icfmanagua.org.
Is it safe to live in Nicaragua?
Nicaragua is actually considered one of the safest countries in Latin America. According to a 2006 report from the USAID, it has lower crime rates than most of its neighboring countries, and the crime that does exist is rarely violent. According to a United Nations/Interpol study, Nicaragua has a lower reported crime rate than France, Germany and the United States.
Pickpocketing and minor theft occurs occasionally in Nicaragua, but this can usually be avoided by taking extra precautions when traveling through crowded areas and by not leaving valuables unattended. It is also unwise to walk alone through certain parts of town during the night. The same types of precaution one would use in any major U.S. city are recommended in Nicaragua.
We also are blessed to be working in a country where there is strong support for the missionary work we are doing. We have not seen any hostility from the government or the people toward Nicaragua Christian Academy or toward the North American (or other) members of the school community. We are fortunate to have a history free of incidents of violence of any kind directed toward our school. In addition, the days of Nicaragua's civil war are long past; since 1990, Nicaragua has enjoyed political stability and peaceful elections.
I would consider Nicaragua (and especially the community where we live) a very safe place to live. Nicaraguans are very warm and receptive to North Americans. They are quick to reach out to foreigners and welcome them. At NCA International, we enjoy a strong bond of friendship between our families of different nationalities. It is awesome to celebrate our unity in Christ!
Are there certain vaccinations or health measures we should take?
There are no immunizations that are required by the World Health Organization for travelers to Nicaragua. We recommend that visitors are up to date on their routine vaccines (such as tetanus, diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella, and polio). In addition, the Hepatitis A and typhoid fever vaccines are recommended for all travelers. Malaria and Dengue Fever occur in Nicaragua and are transmitted through mosquitoes. There is a higher risk in rural areas, but they can also occur in the city. Taking malaria pills (chloroquine) is not recommended due to the low risk and potential side effects for long periods of use. The best prevention is the liberal use of insect repellant with at least 30% deet. Mosquitoes are most active during the morning and evening hours. Consult the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website at wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/nicaragua for up-to-date information.
It is common for people traveling from a developed country to a developing country to experience Traveler’s Diarrhea, due to the adjustment in climate and contaminated food and water. Although Nicaragua’s municipal water is well treated and probably safe, there is risk of undergoing loose stools during a 2-3 day period as your body adjusts to the food and water here. If you do get sick, it is best to let it pass naturally if possible. Diarrhea is your body’s way of flushing out the bad stuff, so constipating medicines like Imodium-AD are not recommended unless you will not have close access to a bathroom. And be sure to drink lots of water.