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My 16 yr. old son went to a private school in Oakland for 9 yrs. He has been at a private 300-student high school for his freshman and sophmore years. He is very studious and gets good grades. He has decided he hates the culture of his school. He wants a lot more diversity and he wants a bigger school. He spends his weekends w/ friends he knows from his K-8 school who go to Berkeley High.
I'm wanting to find out what it might be like for him to go to Berkeley High for his junior and senior years. How do you get into one of the small schools when you come in as a third year student? Do you need to? How difficult is it to get AP classes if you aren't currently enrolled? Has anyone had a child enter BHS as a junior?
Any helpful thoughts appreciated.
Some things you should know: You MUST enroll him in the district immediately if you haven't already done so - March 1 or 2 is your last opportunity before the lottery. See instructions here: http://www.berkeley.net/index.php?page=high-school
As to getting into one of the small schools as a junior, it's possible, but there tend to be fewer spaces available. And for the smaller schools and BIHS, there is the issue of having a more set curriculum, some of which he will have missed coming in as a junior. So unless he has a particular passion for the curriculum of one of the small schools, it may be easier to come in to AC.
You asked about AP classes - he doesn't have to test in, but does need to have completed course requirements, particularly for the sciences. He would need to test in to honors math, and that happens in March, I think. The AP Humanities are essentially a matter of preference.
One issue with transferring in, is that it's possible to fall through the cracks when it comes to the lottery and course sign-ups, so stay on top of that - sign up for the BHS e-tree (send a blank email to bhs- firstname.lastname@example.org with the single word SUBSCRIBE in the subject line), and keep checking with the school as to when you son should come in to sign up. We were diligent about this, and nevertheless found that our daughter was put through the lottery without ever having been given the requisite school/course request form. Fortunately we were able to sort it out.
Little-known fact: while the form gives space for all 6 small schools/programs, if you want only a large program (AC/BIHS) you need only list those. There is NO requirement to list a small school.
My daughter has really enjoyed the world of Berkeley High after what for her was a too small & homogeneous private high school. She's been fortunate to have some really good teachers at BHS, and has enjoyed reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. A sports team and clubs have also been part of what facilitated her entry into the ''big pool'' after swimming in a fishbowl! Natasha
My daughter is very unhappy at her current independent high school, and we're seriously considering a switch to Berkeley High. She's interested in either Academic Choice or Independent Study. Is one program easier or harder to get into than the other? I looked at the BUSD website but it wasn't clear how available either of these programs is. Also, does anyone have any experience with helping a teen transition mid-year? This would be a big change and we want to do what we can to make this as smooth as possible. If anyone has any advice or experience with this I'd love to hear it. Between Here and There
Although the first few weeks of the transition were challenging for her, she never felt like she made the wrong decision to leave her private school, and overall she is thrilled to be at Berkeley High. A lot of her first reactions had to do with the level of rigor in some of her classes - it was less than what she was used to. The school worked with her to get into a more challenging math class, and she was allowed to take French 5/6 based on having 4 years of prior French experience; the small school she was enrolled in only offered Spanish. Now that she's in the BIHS program, and a Junior, the level of rigor is no longer a problem.
The best way to get integrated into Berkeley High is to join a club or a sports team. BHS has innumerable clubs to join and she is likely to find something that matches her interest. Fall sports are already underway, so the next opportunity will be with winter sports.
Hope this helps
Happy with transfer
We are considering moving to Berkeley from out of town next summer. Our sons will enter grades 9&10 in 2007. They are a bit shy but friendly and good students. Is it socially difficult for kids entering BHS at grade 10 to make friends? How accepting are the kids there to newcomers? Do the high school kids have well established peer groups or is it more fluid? Our 10th grader will likely be in jazz band. The younger boy will be active in basketball.
Berkeley High is an amazing place for motivated, talented, self-directed kids. It also has great resources and support for kids coming in with economic or educational disadvantages. Its a good fit for a kid in either of those populations. My own kids fall into a large underserved population somewhere in the middle and have had a tougher time of it --- but still are doing fine.
The Jazz Band is famous. Video classes and internships are possible,
both at the HS and in the community. I don't know anything about the Basketball
team, but would urge your sons to consider rowing Crew instead. The
Crew team and the Jazz Band have both won national awards in the last year.
With Latin they make up the three most memorable programs at Berkeley High.
Participating in any one of the three increases the likelyhood of
loving your time at BHS. But, each one takes enough time that doing more than one is probably
not a good idea.
Crew Parent in Recovery
My 15-year-old daughter is unhappy at her present high school and would like to switch to Berkeley High for her sophomore year. Her father is opposed to her going to BHS. How can I convince her that it is a ''good thing'' to remain at her present school, at least for next year, and then we can discuss it again? anonymous
My daughter,10th grade, very bright in her own way, has some learning difficulties that affect memory . She is finding her Catholic School program too demanding for this reason and wants to change and go to public school.
Can anyone give me a sense of what it would be like to transfer to BHS ( If it can be done) in such a context? Are there special supports there for learning problems? My fear is that she would just be put with slow learners and get lost. She has the impression public school would be easier academically. I don't think this is so, except for those the school might have given up on altogether. What I have heard about BHS ( rightly or wrongly) is that there are a group of very bright and high performance kids who get a great education at BHS and then the rest, some of whom get very little. Perhaps this is not accurate. Also, I am concerned by the reports of violence or intimidation. My daughter is strong and street smart and has done public school before (on the East coast). I am not really worried about her getting hurt but about her getting distracted by this kind of drama. Are these incidents considered exceptional? From what I read here this does not seem to be so. Related factors: my daughter is on medication for depression and mood stabilization and is a person of color in a biracial family extremely concerned with race issues.
With this picture in mind, would anyone RECOMMEND trying to change to BHS in this case? My approach at this point is to try to work with the people at her present school and see if they can make adjustments for her. But this may not work and her stress level is very high. Does anyone have experience with other private schools, such as Maybeck, that might be helpful to consider? Any suggestions would be welcome. Many thanks
After a very long journey, my daughter is now a senior at Maybeck high school. It is the absolute best place for her. She has ADD and is on antidepressants, and has decided not to take Ritalin or other stimulants because she just doesn't like "feeling weird" during the day. We moved back to the US after living in Hong Kong for five years and simply assumed that she would go to public middle school and would be fine. WRONG! Our middle school, while having an excellent reputation academically, was absolutely huge, anonymous and clearly not the right place for learning differences that weren't severe enough for special ed. One of the more harmful factors was the cruelty of the other kids to my daughter. Call it the pecking order or the pack mentality, but middle and high school kids seem to have this radar down to a science. Luckily, we have a child who was able to verbalize her upset to us and she communicated that this was just NOT the place for her.
At that time, we had not heard of Maybeck, were part-way into the semester and visited Arrowsmith. The smallness of the school, openess of the staff and students and the obvious "differences" of each person immediately appealed to my daughter, and she decided that was where she would go. It was with real trepidation that I took my 8th grader to that school each day. I think living overseas and the independence she gained there served her well--she learned more about drug addiction, street kids, racial issues, homeless people in that one year than I could ever have imagined. Luckily, she just kept talking to us quite honestly. It was a real awakening for me when she matter-of-factly asked if I could drive her friend to rehab! after school one day. I would recommend you check out Arrowsmith for comparison. It is an accepting place where many kids who would perhaps never finish high school do--and go on to lead very productive lives.
The next year, because of the good grades that my daughter received and Arrowsmith, she was accepted at Athenian. It is and excellent school, with an exceptional staff who nurtured my daughter in every way. Its only drawback was that we didn't realize just how academically demanding it would turn out to be. My daughter had not yet been diagnosed with ADD and we just couldn't figure out why such a bright girl couldn't finish her assignments. She stayed up all night working too many times to count, still with unfinished work. And finally she was diagnosed and it all made sense. The ADD struggle is still not over--we have to keep reminding ourselves, and changing our expectations--but we treasure our daughter and have no doubt that she will do something (many things) wonderful in the world.
After 2 years of loving Athenian but struggling terribly there, she was getting very depressed and starting to lie about what she had finished in terms of school work. She was put on academic probation several times--each time with the resolve to do better and tutors etc. She finally, once again looked at us and said Athenian just wasn't the place for her. She felt very badly letting her teachers, to whom she had grown very close, down. She loved that place "in theory" and all that it stands for, but looking back, she realizes that she was constantly comparing herself to the rest of the students who in majority were "superachievers".
By this time, she had a wonderful therapist who helped us regroup and suggested looking into Maybeck. (See Maybeck recommendations.)
I hope this helps you to see that there are alternatives to the public school "mill". Just look into them and remember that smaller truly can be better, especially for kids who see themselves as different. Saying that, my younger teenage boy has opted to go back to public school after a year in Catholic school because he misses the "larger" arena and the ability to meet more kids, instead of kids who may have spent their whole school career in what he calls, "sheltered" parochial schools. So you see--different needs for different kids!! It's true, we feel VERY lucky to have the financial option to help our children find the right school for them.
Now, I wonder what my newly adopted Chinese daughter will need when she gets to high school. I can confidently say that we will help her find her place every step of the way.
You can e-mail me privately it you would like. Good luck to you. Sounds as though you have a good handle on your daughter's needs--don't be afraid to let her go a little different route. Best of luck on your journey. Katie
While this may be a Pandora's Box - I would appreciate comments re: decision whether to send our son to Berkeley High for 9th Grade. From K-present (7th) he has been at Head Royce and has been really happy - but he is anxious to "spread his wings." He is a good student - not stellar - and not particularly self motivated, same with sports. I am worried he will get lost in the cracks at a large public high school. I am also not happy with the recent management problems I have been hearing about BHS . Also, when I was reading school board candidate statements I only heard emphasis about helping the disadvantaged (which is fine) - but with what seems like a lot of resentment toward the "advantaged" Getting rid of tracking seems to be a big concern as well. I was a public school kid, and feel sad not to support my own community school - but "exposure to the real world" is not the only good reason to change schools. Please give me your comments. Anonymous
We were concerned for his physical safety, ability to motivate himself if assigned a so-so instructor, and the possibility of being influenced by students who did not want to be in school.
After he exhibited incredible discipline in preparing for his Bar Mitzvah, we were no longer concerned about the issues requiring his focus. We decided that we would rather he face some of the rigors of BHS with us 10 minutes away, than face the extreme academic pressures of most of the college prep schools. We were very concerned about the "burn-out" factor he might face at the prep schools.
So far, everyone's experience has been good. We had no immediate scheduling problems which got things off to a good start. The added responsibility of the extra independence of riding the bus has actually made him more responsible in other areas of life at home.
He is able to be positively critical of both his "good" and "bad" teachers, and to see that his favorite teacher personality- wise, is really not delivering much materially. Conversely, he is mature enough to see that one of the teachers he doesn't like, is teaching him a great deal.
We have had enjoyable discussions about certain student issues - the latest being the issuing of tickets to jaywalkers at lunchtime.
He is not as academically challenged this semester as I would have hoped, but he is learning and working, especially in math. He also acknowledges that this will change as he enrolls in AP courses.
His attitude regarding his safety seems to be a prudent and informed one. Perhaps the transition was made easier by the fact that some of his independent school classmates, as well as religious school acquaintances and soccer teammates are also at BHS.
Hope this helps. but it all boils down to individual experience and
being able to take the good with the bad.
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