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Re: Moving from private school: ECHS or try for Albany transfer?
My boys are at AHS and it has been pretty good. It is very academically focused. Maybe too much so at times. Academics are super-important, but they aren't everything! I have heard getting an inter-district transfer is very hard to do right now so I don't think it's something I would plan on in your shoes. You can start the process, just know it might not happened. We actually moved to Albany because our transfer didn't go through (many years ago now). Good luck! ECHS is great too! AHS mom
First a general statement; both high shcools can provide at least as good or a better education than many private schools, so you should have no qualms in that regard. I feel both schools offer better math and physics programs than many private schools which often leave significant gaps because they are not required to follow state guidelines. I've not been overly impressed with private schools academically.
No doubt Albany high is the better school academically which means it is also more rigorous and competitive and so harder to get good grades. El Cerrito is more of a mixed school. But for the good kids who want to apply themselves, it also offers a good education with the added advantage that it is less competitive and so easier to get good grades. Also, fewer students are applying to the choice schools and so they seem to get better results than AHS. Both schools have almost new school buildings and both are on the smaller side for Bay Area high schools which I see as an advantage. I would prefer ECHS over Albany because it is ''realer'', meaning there's a more real world mix of kids both racially and socio-economically. Education is more than just books. Your daughter may have an easier time finding friends in the more diverse ECHS culture than the lily white/asian uppper middle class hyperacademic AHS. That statement was intentionally un-pc and also accurate.
However, you can't just go to AHS because you want to. You must live in Albany or have a very good way of making believe you live there. They are such a small town and school and there are so so so many parents trying to get there kids in there, that the district actually checks and makes house visits to ensure that the student actually lives in Albany. Probably the only school district in miles that does this. Transfers from other schools districts are not allowed, period. Many of my students live elsewhere but use the address of a relative in Albany and keep a room there as if they live there. Short of that you will probably not get your student in, because ECHS and AHS are not only in different districts (very different), and different towns, they are in different COUNTIES.
In closing, if you live in the WCCUSD your child will have to go to public school there and you should check to see which high school that will be, meaning you are not guaranteed ECHS unless you live near there. In the past the WCCUSD had a stated policy of giving preference to minorities to transfer to ECHS if they lived closer to other (far less desirable high schools). So unless you live near ECHS, you may be facing greater challenges than you thought. But, the WCCUSD is far less on top of things than Albany and so it is easier to game the system. Email me directly if you want to talk more. Sean
Yes there are problems, but Albany has had its share of issues as well. They have had fights, alcohol problems, its share of issues as well. Even the schools over the hills have their issues. The more involved you are at the school, the better the experience will be for all. ECHS parent alum
I have a son in the Albany school system and for the most part it has been perfectly fine for him. I've been going on auto pilot assuming we'll just send him to AHS for high school, however, after talking with a friend who recently looked at it as a possibility for her son who would be entering after going to various local private schools, I am now not so sure. What she described were very low level English and Spanish 2 classes. They saw an advanced math class and an AP Physics class that were better, but those were classes for Juniors. Hard to compare of course, after visiting private schools where they have a whole science wing and in which their class project is building a rocket. I know the Albany schools are considered good, but is that only because the kids test well and there isn't a lot of trouble? Do freshmen get to take AP classes? Are there strategies for helping students navigate the system to not get stuck in unchallenging classes? I know I shouldn't worry...
We have also however, ended up with a child who did not go to Albany High School but a private school because we found Albany does not have enough for bright children and in fact some administrators (not all) can be hostile to children who want advanced work. I think it is worth looking into private school to have as an option. There is also supplementing with classes from places like Tilden Prep. It's definitely worth researching what freshmen can do for advanced classes. I believe other than math, they can take a test and get into a more advanced language class, but there's nothing to be done about the other classes.
Personally, I don't understand why. They have to have multiple science, English, foreign language sections -- why not tailor all of them to a student's interest and level?
But maybe it's changed -- it's worth researching. And the more parents who ask, the more they know it's important to some parents. Albany parent
My son will be high school age a year from now and he is considering high school. We can't afford private school, so I am looking into Albany High. As a homeschooler I have prepared my son for the world in theory, but not in practice. In other words, he has not been exposed to age-inappropriate sexual behavior and drugs and I myself am concerned about the potential violence by guns, etc. How much of the aforementioned is happening at Albany High? My second concern is the fact that they expect teen-agers to start classes at 7:40 AM. Research has shown that this is not the optimum time for teen-agers to be learning, so I find the AHS bell schedule completely illogical, but I understand that it facilitates parents being able to get to work. My second question is how do your teens handle these early hours; do they adjust somehow? My last question is about the baseball and volleyball programs for boys. What do people think of these two programs at AHS? Thanks in advance for your comments and feedback. Albany homeschool mom
My experience with AMS was that the former elementary kids heard a *lot* of language when they hit middle school... middle school seems to be when they're hearing other kids, hearing of some doing pot, etc., and I wish there'd been a few more adults to percolate among the kids to better manage those hormonally-charged years. But by high school, I would think a kid with a solid sense of right and wrong won't be too bothered. Albany Parent
About the early mornings: They suck. You get used to them very fast, but it still isn't fun. My recommendation is to drink caffeinated tea on the way to school. Another route would be to not take a first period. AHS has a seven-period day, but only six are required (five senior year), and your son could work with his counselor to try to arrange a free first period. This will allow him to get to school at 7:40 only on Wed/Fri, 8:37 on Mon, and 9:20 on Tues/Thurs. And always go to bed at a reasonable time! I never did, and I can't recommend that lifestyle.
Our baseball team is not one of our teams known to be really amazing, but it is not known to suck, either. We win some, and we lose some. If your son likes baseball, he should definitely try out. Sadly, we don't have a volleyball program for boys, but during Homecoming Week every year there is a boys' volleyball tournament (as well as girls' football), and participation in that earns you popularity, not notoriety. It's a really fun time, and if your son participates, his whole class will be supporting him. We also have Intramural sports, which I believe are all co-ed, and I'm sure volleyball is one of them. I obviously don't know your son, so I couldn't say for sure whether AHS would be a good fit for him, but I think it's a really great school and I definitely recommend it. Hope this helps! Recent AHS Graduate (girl)
p.s. albany has a great community of families. The teachers and staff at AHS are really wonderful. anon
Albany is also a small community and lot of the students have known each other since they were in kindergarden. If your son has friends in Albany, that might not be a problem. The baseball team is very good, and a lot of the players have been on Albany Little Leage teams together for years. The wrestling team is also very good. Girls' volleyball is excellent, I'm not sure there is a boys' team.
The early schedule is ridiculous, you are right. If your student is taking 5 or 6 classes they can try and avoid having a first period class, and start second period. Albany tends to get in ruts, is somewhat parochial and does not change with the times. I think this schedule is largely to keep the teachers happy and is negotiated with the teachers' union, but sucks for the kids.
The school also tends to cater to the highest performing kids, to the detriment of the average students. There are fourth year foreign language classes with a handful of kids, but not enough resources to help kids who may be struggling a little. Right now they are cutting sections of electives because of budget issues, which will make it even harder for kids with interests in arts or other non-academic fields. That is probably also true of a lot of other public schools. It is a good school for academically oriented, studious kids who are well-organized. Some of the teachers require homework to be submitted in very specific formats that feel more like busywork than learning. That might be very different than your son's homeschooling experience. Hope that helps. Albany mom
Re: Affordable private school for struggling teen
I also have a 9th grader at AHS whose grades have plummeted this year. 9th grade is hard. AHS is a pressure-filled, academically demanding environment with lots of tiger-mom energy driving the curriculum, there is way too much homework IMO, and there has been a lot of extra chaos and drama this year, with teachers leaving and class schedule changes. Oh wait, lets not forget puberty! My son is also gifted in the arts, and you know what? That's good enough for me (for now). Having one thing he excels at and having lots of friends means your son is successful in ways that many kids are not. Taking that away from him as punishment for not getting good grades isn't a good strategy; if you must use a consequence, don't take away the music and social life that motivates him. Get him a tutor, remove yourself from the drama, and try to strategize together with dad-- sounds like there is a rift there, but if you can agree what the strategy and consequences will be, your son will respond to your unity on this issue. I think your expectations may be skewed regarding private schools. My son was in 2 different private schools (he has ADD) and neither of them was anywhere near as good as Albany. Call the principal, set up a meeting, get proactive. No one else is going to set the boundaries that you need to set. And remember... he's a teenager, he will likely settle down eventually and get to work if you are firm and settled yourself. Good luck, Albany Panda Mom
Re: Is it uncool to take lunch to high school?
I checked in with my daughter who is a Freshman at AHS. She reports that plenty of kids bring their own lunches. No one makes a big deal of it. The kids seem to understand diet preferences, cultural dietary requirements, as well as health-related dietary restrictions. Put your mind to rest and Bon Appetite with the healthy food! Jeanne I see lots of kids at AHS sitting down with their lunches on campus. Some buy, some bring. My kids have done a combination of both, and they are sort of middling ''cool.''
The campus lunch facilities are now indoors and much improved. There are usually vegetarian options on the menu. No candy or soda is sold at school, although desserts are sold as club fundraisers, usually after school.
AHS is an open campus, so kids eat in the park, go to Solano or the El Cerrito Plaza for food, or go to nearby houses at lunchtime. Hope this helps!
My son is in the 8th grade at Albany Middle School. I love the school, the teachers, the level of parent involvment, the sports, etc. However, I have worked closely with him this year on his classwork and I have watched him become increasingly bored and unispired by the curriculum. Math and science seem to catch his interest, but the humanities subjects do seem pretty bland and uninteresting. He is an avid reader and writer outside of school. He has a lot of natural curiosity and it's sad to see it left untapped because he's bored.
I'm thinking about high schools. I don't think he's the right kind of kid for Berkeley High (he struggles at times with focus), but we are considering Maybeck. I am wondering about other parents and (especially) student's experiences at Albany high school. I know it's a great place to go to get into college, but what about beyond that? Is it inspiring? Is creativity rewarded? Are kids challenged in other ways besides academic rigor (to think critically, creatively and to step outside etheir comfort zone)? How ''cliquey'' is it? How does the AHS experience differ from the experience at AMS?
I have read the archives, but the district and the High School have changed so much over the last 5 years. I'd be particularly interested in hearing from AHS students. Anon
For kids willing to 'join' there is a lot of activity at AHS. Football, soccer, volleyball.
PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Assn, with student members and student members of the school board), student govt and Leadership. Clubs ranging from service groups (Leo's and Building with Books), Youth & Govt (a very active mock legislature, managed by the Albany YMCA that sends kids on conferences to Sacramento and Monterey), Model U.N., Black Student Union, Jewish Student Union, etc. There is also a Pirates Club, Skateboard Club, and any student with an idea and a faculty sponsor can start a group. There's Career Day, Spirit Week (kids dressed in school colors and decorated the school every day of Homecoming Week), school dances, including 2 formals a year.
But most kids at AHS know each other from kindergarten, or at least from middle school. That means that old alliances linger - though friendships in high school do shift dramatically from the ones in elementary and middle school.
Its a fine school for my kids. Your kid could love it... or... AHS parent
I'm interested in getting academic/social input about Albany High School from parents whose children currently attend the school. I have an eighth grader at an academically rigorous middle school (private), but would like to send her to Albany High -- we live in Albany and it would be nice to finally have her at our ''local'' school. I guess I'm wondering how challenging the academics are at AHS. Also, does it have a 2-track academic system like Berkeley High and, if so, how does one get into that higher track if this is appropriate? Is placement based on testing and, if so, when does that testing take place? Also, how do parents feel about the quality of their kids' teachers? The administration? The calibre of the classes? And what is Albany High like socially? Any info on the school's strengths and limitations (diversity, sports, drug use, etc) would be much appreciated. Any info on what colleges AHS grads attend would also be helpful, although I can probably get this from the school. Thanks so much. Ready to switch to public school
AHS is a reasonable size (1200 kids), with very good administration, counseling staff and faculty, and increasing academic and elective opportunities. The school is now on modified block scheduling, which everyone seems to like - every class on Mondays and half the classes on MW/ TTh for 90-min. each class.
Kids test into rigorous advanced math and language classes, in spring/ summer. AP classes start in jr. year, and many require testing in; but some do not, incl. AP Art History. Homework is several hours, with more before tests and finals or group projects.
There's lots of "school spirit" and there are kids who ignore it. Dozens of school clubs & activities, including YMCA's Youth and Gov't (includes retreats), theater and major spring musical), music (band, orchestra, R&B group, jazz, chorales), golf, computer, service clubs (Leo's), ethnic student unions. The more active your student is, the better time they will have. merry
This year's experiment with a block schedule seems to be going well. I've heard both students and teachers speak positively about it. All students go to only 4 classes on Tues/Thurs and 3 different classes plus advisory period on Wed/Fri, plus all 7 classes on Monday. (Unfortunately, now there's NO way to avoid going to school at 7:40 AM. Students who were taking minimum schedules and weren't doing after-school sports used to be able to go at 8:30 AM and stay later, which is far less painful.) Albany parent
Parents need to maintain open communication with their kids about drugs and alcohol and to share their values about these topics for example I'd prefer a high school kid to have a glass of wine at home at a family gathering ( holiday, party or whatever) and not have it viewed as a completely taboo act , and to understand that drinking and driving don't mix/ to call home anytime a ride is needed etc. Also I don't believe marijuana is a "gateway" drug that will lead to more serious drug use/ it will be obvious if a high school student is using drugs that interferes with their functioning in the world Parents in my opinion need to be honest with their teenagers, to have an open and honest dialogue, to answer their children's questions when they ask about your own drug and alcohol use past and present, and to set an example by the way we as adults live with our teenagers, how we cope etc. Also to provide support and resources so our kids have exposure to involving activities to participate in whatever they are , sports, reading, music, cultural religious, political, social action, etc both in school and outside I have found that Albany High provides a safe enough environment and community for kids to make intelligent choices or at least have choices about what path they are going to take This is definitely anonymous as I respect my kids right to privacy
Many people have asked about whether Albany High School is a good option for students and parents. This, as with all high schools, depends on the individual student. If a family is looking for a small, academically-oriented high school, Albany High definitely has that to offer. It does have limited course offerings, because it is a small school. The counseling staff does appear to be helpful with the college application process. (I don't know first hand.)
Its shortcomings lie in the emotional realm. It places a strong emphasis on academic success and its reputation as a high school where a high percentage of students go on to college. However, it has little to offer in the way of nurturing and support for the individual who is having difficulties, either emotional or academic. Unless students fall in the rather narrow range served by the Resource Specialist Program, there is little in-school support or attention for students who are not highly successful in an academically rigorous environment. There are individual staff members who can be nurturing and supportive, but it is often a matter of luck if a student encounters them.
The attitude at AHS frequently seems to be, "If you are unhappy with what we have to offer, you can always go elsewhere. There are plenty of parents from surrounding districts clamoring to get their children into a school like Albany that is perceived as safer than most neighboring schools, while providing a pretty good academic program." Both of my daughters have had difficulty for these reasons at Albany High, over the course of the last eight years. I am frankly glad that this is our last year there.
Now, as far as school spirit at AHS--I don't know what events that family has attended, but I think spirit abounds aplenty! The class mascot building and subsequent parade was both fun and hilarious--the essence of small-town America. The grand opening of the new building was a great chance to hobnob and see school sprit at work. The Winter Ball seemed to be teeming with gorgeous gals and well-dressed fellahs having a great time. And the plays--I wish I had seen Macbeth, I heard it was fabulous, but the two "little" plays (The Lesson and Beyond Therapy) going on right now are fantastic and the kids do a wonderful job. They seem to have tremendous enthusiasm and spirit. In fact, I'm sorry my job requirements are such that I can't be more involved myself, so I feel that this is just a fraction of what is available in the way of family fun and school spirit.
Well, that's just my 2 cents' worth. And, because Albany is such a small town and my daughter would cringe (disown me?) if she knew I had written about her, please sign me Anonymous as well --although secretly I hope our paths might cross!
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