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Hi! We are moving from Brooklyn to the East Bay this summer, and with a 5 and 3 year old, schools are weighing heavily. I've done a fair amount of research and spoken to parents about elementary and middle in BUSD/OUSD/Piedmont, but have questions about Berkeley High. Having no direct relationships with current families there, I thought I would ask this forum. Any advice or experiences with and about BH would be great! I know it's a huge school, and I have 2 boys, one of whom is much more of a ''follower.'' Have your sons been able to navigate BHS and not just be a number? I know we have a chunk of time until high school, but I really don't want to move again and private isn't an option. Thanks in advance! -K
My student is now at Berkeley High, and came up through berkeley public schools. I know a bunch of kids there with a range of personalities. The great thing about a big school like Berkeley High is that you can find other kids like you, in a club or a sport or music or theater or in the classroom, so you won't feel alone. The shy kids I know at Berkeley High are learning so much from the energetic environment and are finding friends with stuff in common.
The division into school communities help the staff stay in touch with the kids, but the community of parents and other kids may be even more important. By the time your kid is in high school you will likely have a great network of friends who know your kid and care about them, AND will tell you if they are worried about them (in a good way).
Not all kids have an easy time at any high school. It seems that Berkeley High's huge range of diversity tends to make kids more accepting of differences: physical, ethnic, racial, religious, lgbtq, learning disability, physical disability -- ok but maybe not as accepting of republicans! So it is comforting to know whoever your kid is at 15, they will find a nitch.
Regarding the school administration, at present principal Scuderi is great. A wonderful and responsive communicator, and keeps a sharp eye on the students. The kids know the rules, and the consequences are provided as promised when needed. The school feels safe, yet you still will develop street smarts if you keep your wallet too accessible in your backpack in the hallway, or don't pay attention with your smartphone earbuds in, wandering in the wrong part of the adjacent park at the wrong time of day. It is basic urban street smarts at an urban school. It is not a perfect community, but then i am bringing my kids up here because I am not interested in Stepford.
Who knows what it will be like in 10 yrs, but I know the community will stay involved in making it the best it can be, and you will be welcome to join in. Hope you do come to Berkeley.
(Berkeley High web site catalogue page will show you info on the school groups. http://bhs.berkeleyschools.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/BHS_catalog_12-13.pdf) -Busd parent
Hi all, I am thinking of moving to the Berkeley area from Santa Fe. I have a son who will be going into his junior year at high school. Can someone give me some advice on Berkeley High? Is it a good school? Are there other schools in Berkeley or the surrounding areas in the East Bay that are better?
He is athletic, playing mostly soccer and basketball. He has been in private school all of high school thus far. He excels in all academics. I am sure that I will not be able to afford private schooling for him in Northern California so I am looking at other options. Any advice is appreciated. Many thanks in advance
BHS is an AMAZING school for the right student. Any kid who is curious about the world and other people, who is motivated and can stay focused, avoid distractions and temptations, is good at advocating for themselves, and can get along with others who are different, will get a perspective on the world that is not available in most other schools public or private. They will not only get a sound academic eduation, they will get a life education.
Kids I know who came from small private schools describe BHS as being like New York City compared to a small town. If this sounds terrifying to you, it is probably not the right place. If it sounds exciting, you should schedule a visit. --Happy BHS parent and grateful BHS graduate
I'm hoping to hear something current about the school. My son, who had attended Orinda public schools since the third grade, may be attending Berkeley High because our inter-district transfer into Acalanes Union High School District has been denied. We have appealed and are awaiting a decision. Meanwhile, what advice would you have for my soon-to-be 9th-grader if he will need to attend Berkeley High? What is your opinion of the school: students, faculty, administration, curriculum, safety, etc? Thanks in advance! Karen
What BHS has going for it is plenty of diversity, lots to get involved in and many wonderful and dedicated teachers. My kids have had a couple of bad ones as well, and getting the school to respond to complaints is time-consuming and often frustrating for parents and students. And yes, the administration knows who these teachers are but their hands are tied in terms of dealing with them, so it falls on the parents to be persistent with meetings and timely follow-up. In terms of safety issues, despite the gunshot incident last spring, my kids told me they felt safe at BHS and that the open campus is not one that they would want to give up in favor of tighter security. In short, with any school, it has a lot to do with who your child is. My daughter ended up at a very good college and she felt BHS prepared her extremely well. Love BHS
Regarding the learning communities within BHS, each student is required to be inone of the learning communities whether one of the smaller ones or the larger BIHS or AC. Requiring students to be in learning communities has, from what I understand, made a big difference and students feel more a part of a group. I also understand that at BHS is it s key to be involved in an activity (club, music or a sport). So if you student is lucky enough to go to BHS, require them to be involved in some activity. BHS is not something to be scared of, but an opportunity to take advantage of.
And for the anti-theft refresher course.....as with any urban school (or urban transit system!), be aware. Do not use your electronics before, during or after school out in the open or they may get yanked out of your hands. Find out what areas around school to avoid. Don't hang out in the adjacent park after school. Put any electronics and your wallet deep in your backpack or in your front pocket. Valuables left just inside the zipper of your backpack may get pick-pocketed in a crowded hallway at class passing time. Do not leave your backpack unattended. If any thing gets stolen or you are hassled, report it. Berkeley High grads who apply themselves get a great education and leave the school very ready for the world. BHS Mom
Yes, it is bigger than most high schools and perhaps, if you have a child with disabilities or other challenges, you as a parent might have to be a little more on top of tracking homework and communicating with teachers than in a smaller school. However, Powerschool makes it easy to keep on top of grades, homework assignments and it is fairly easy to communicate with most teachers and administration who I found to be caring, competent,and open to working with parents.
The Parent-Teacher community is inviting and I found that while some teachers were better than others, most teachers were good or great. The best part is that there is a place at BHS for every type of student with sports, clubs, or more studious pursuits.
BHS divides the student population into smaller learning communities (SLC) - the smaller ones are between 300-500 students and the larger ones between 900-1350. The larger SLC are not any bigger than most other high schools.
I am impressed with the recent posts coming out from administration about enhanced security and attendance oversight.
Good luck with your decision. Mom of recent BHS graduate
Can people share their experiences about Berkeley High School, specifically with regards to the large size of the school? How easy is it for a child to get ''lost'' academically and socially? What type of children tend to thrive and which don't at Berkeley HS? -Exploring Berkeley Schools
Hi - as the mom of a ninth grader at Berkeley High, we're just learning the ropes and I have a few questions about how to help my daughter navigate a few areas at school: 1. Clubs: How does one encourage one's kid to get involved in clubs? My kid seems a bit lost and overwhelmed and the clubs seem like a perfect way to take a more manageable bite out of things. I'm still looking for a complete list but would love advice on how other kids put a toe in the club waters. 2. Absences: Our daughter was sick with a bad cold for three days about three weeks ago. It seems to have cost her a lot of momentum. She seems to be spending a lot of energy catching up and just a brief absence seems costly. Have other parents observed your kid having the same experience? 3. Self-esteem: Our daughter has always gotten great grades and her academic excellence has been an important part of her identity. Now, for the first time, it seems unlikely that she'll pull off straight A's. I don't want her to get discouraged or have this diminish her drive (Latin and Geometry seem especially hard). Any words of wisdom as to how to encourage her to continue to do her best even though the going is tough in this new environment would be greatly appreciated. Thanks very much
Re: Choosing a high school for gay son
I am the parent of a sophmore at Berkeley High School and based on the discussions she and I have regarding gay teens (she's heterosexual but accepting of the LBGT community) kids are able to be themselves because there are other kids just like them. Also there are staff members who are lesbian and gay (and open about it) and there are support groups for these teens and the school has a health center that also offers counseling for kids to have an outlet to talk to someone. For the most part from what I've observed from being on campus is that these kids are more welcomed opposed to being outcast. I also would like to say my daughter has a teacher who falls in this catergory that we absolutely adore (my daughter stops by her class just to hang out and chat afterschool) because she is a good educator which is all that matters.
My daughter just started at BHS for second semester sophomore year. She moved here from an excellent school near Seattle. She is really unhappy with the level of instruction and the teachers (and everyone involved, she says) there. The kids in her classes don't seem to care, they are disruptive, the Spanish teacher doesn't seem to know what she's doing and doesn't even speak in an accent. We are desperately looking for a last minute alternative! Is there some secret way to get her into some more advanced classes, or another area school that is better, or anything??? She's very bright and academically committed. I'm going to go over there tomorrow and talk to someone about switching her into some better classes but she is sure no one will have anything better to offer. She is not as into clubs or sports as the rest of the school is, she just wants to learn academics. Any suggestions, teacher names, etc? Elizabeth
My son, a sophmore at BHS, skips as many classes as he attends. He is doing poorly academically. I believe that the current program is not right for him. He wanted to be in the Arts program but was not admitted.
I've tried talking with the counselor, and I believe that the counselor is unable to help because he seems uninterested in my son in the first place and hostile to me. I've requested from the deputy principal that a different counselor be assigned and was refused.
Therefore, I am considering:
--other schools, including arts academies
--the BHS independent study program.
Anybody have a suggestion for an incredibly intelligent
young man who is not successful at BHS?
Looking for Alternatives
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