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Skyline High School (Oakland, CA)
I heard that Skyline this year instituted an intensive advisory program for freshman called Atlas House. I am wondering how it is going and if it lives up to its promise of ''no student will fall through the cracks.'' Are there any parents of Skyline 9th graders who can report on how it is going? Are the students tracked into advising groups or are the groups pretty mixed as to academic ability, college-oriented, etc? We are battling with our 8th grader who doesn't want to go to Tech, but we have our doubts about whether Skyline can live up to its information night presentation, which was impressive. Skeptical
The Atlas program at Skyline High is an effort to give students more personalized attention and reduce anonymity. Indeed the Atlas class sizes are somewhat smaller (1-25) than average class size elsewhere in the school. Every group of 100 students has the same 4 teachers, and they share a common preparation period. This arrangement enables teachers to collaborate and focus on studentsC",b" individual needs and their progress or lack of thereof.
A great deal of effort on the part of the entire Skyline community has gone into making Atlas successful, and the Atlas principal has reported that indeed 9th graders are getting higher GPAs this year.
I recommend that you sit in on 9th-grade classes both at Skyline and at Oakland Tech. If you request permission to do so, I believe it will be granted.
One aim of the Atlas program is to assist students with their academic and career planning. I'm especially interested in that, because of my own work as a tutor in helping students prepare for the college board exams. Although there are conscientious counselors at both Skyline and Oakland Tech, both schools could provide better guidance. One of the problems is that there aren't enough counselors for the large number of students at these schools.
Atlas does have an advisory program. These are 25-30 minute segments during which time students engage in a variety of non-academic activities including the development of study skills and citizenship. You can find out more about how the advisories are functioning if you visit the school. Good luck!
BPN archives on Skyline H.S. are several years old, and that can make a huge difference in the climate of a school. I'd like to hear from parents who currently have students at Skyline or whose children graduated in 2008 and 2009. My daughter is not a disciplined or motivated student, and I fear that she will be able to hide herself in a huge high school like Oakland Tech, and/or align herself with similarly unmotivated kids. She's been in an independent middle school which has been great, because it's small, the teachers know her and most of her classmates come from families that care about education. But the private school route will end for us after 8th grade. It would be great if you were open to talking to me on the phone, in addition to responding to this query. lora
The classic difference between the schools is in the drama department. Skyline has a great program; they do a big musical production. Last year they did West Side Story. It was a very high quality, high school production. (West Side Story is a very hard production at any level and the kids did great job.) On the other hand last year, Tech did a student originated drama. The students in the Advanced Drama Class interviewed all sorts of people from pillars of the community to people on margins of society. Out of that work, they wrote their own play. And were invited to go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland as a result. Both programs at Skyline and Oakland Tech are good; they are just different. Although, your child can get a good education at either school, the problem is at both schools if your child does not get into the honors program, then neither school is a good bet. I can state that unequivocally.
And you know, most kids will come out okay no matter what we do. anon b
Our son is in 8th grade now and has been at a private school since kindergarten. We are considering high school options. I recently heard that the principal at Skyline was leaving or has already to take a job at Lick-Wilmerding. Does anyone have thoughts about how the last few years have been at Skyline (trending up or down?) and whether the change in principal is a concern? Also, there is also a choice system for enrollment I think. Could anyone help describe the differences between Tech and Skyline?
The key to flourishing in any large comprehensive school is figuring out ''who you are'' -- where you go when you have a break, who you are getting together with for extracurricular activity. Each school has its own particularly strong programs, so your choice may depend on your student's strongest interests. Skyline has a very strong, mature, and well known performing arts program. But Tech is in the middle of a very exciting rebirth of its performing arts programs with very strong parent support, so if you're interested in music (for example) you might want to go talk to both music teachers. Similarly, both schools have strong athletic programs, but if you're interested in a particular sport, you might talk to both coaches. Same with a Harvard bound kid (both AP government and AP English teachers) or a budding journalist (newspaper advisors) etc. etc. etc. There are obvious differences in the environment -- would your student prefer a wooded hilltop campus or easier access to public transportation, for example.
My boys graduated from Skyline. I am now in a position that lets me ''see inside'' Tech a little, and I'm impressed by the similarities between the two schools. Both will prepare your student to be a good citizen of the 21st century. But if you have a choice, I strongly urge you to visit both schools and try to make an appointment to see teachers in your special interest areas. Also go see performances, games, events, and see where you feel most at home.
And wherever you end up, I really urge you to get involved in parent groups and help support the school with any volunteer time and contributions you can spare. It will make the school better, and your own personal rewards will be great Kathy
Note: a review for Oakland Tech was also received.
We are starting to think about high school options and are wondering about our public school option: Skyline HS in Oakland. Are there any small schools-within-a-school like Berkeley High? What about advanced placement classes? Will a very bright child be challenged? Our son is particularly strong in math and science. What about getting into good colleges like Cal or Stanford afterward? What's the social scene? Is it safe? Is there a lot of drug use? Is a smart kid likely to be a target, or socially excluded? worried mom
One of the things we really liked about Skyline are the active, involved, passionate, concerned, community-spirited parents. There is a Family Resource Center on campus with a parent coordinator who's there 20 hours a week. Her name is Jean Moore, and you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. I advise you to go take a look at the school. They will be doing an evening program for potential students around the 1st of December, and they will also be doing daytime campus tours around the same time. If you can't book one that suits your schedule, let me know and I'll take you around myself.
In structure and choices and so forth, I think Berkeley High and Skyline are very similar. Actually, the principal at Skyline used to teach science at Berkeley High, and was dept chair there. BHS will have more choices in classes and teams and so forth because it has about 50% more students (about 3300 at BHS versus about 2200 at Skyline.) Skyline is more racially diverse. Berkeley High has an open campus in a downtown setting and Skyline has a closed campus in a greener, hilltop setting.
I hope this helps. Different kids are different in their learning styles, so different schools suit them to varying degrees, but if a large comprehensive high school is what you're looking for, I heartily recommend Skyline. The best thing about it is that EVERYBODY goes there -- rich kids, poor kids, English language learners, special ed kids, every race, every religion, so Skyline grads have an exposure to the world and a sophistication about other kinds of people that is highly unusual in high school grads. They're nice kids, too -- our kids made lifelong friends there, and so did we!
Re: Private School Tuition
To the parent assessing the real cost of private school--I am on the other end of your quandry. I have a 13 year old 8th grader and a 17 year old 11th grader. Until this year both my children had gone to private schools since kindergarten. This year we moved our son from Lick- Wilmerding (private)to Skyline High (public) in Oakland because of the cost. Our daughter will be going to Skyline in the fall.
The cost of private school has gone up 4-7% every year. Last year we realized that to keep both of them in private school through high school was going to cost us another $150,000--and that was just for 6 more years of school. We realized that we simply could not blindly keep paying that kind of money; as we need to be concerned about the future.
Part of the decision was based on the fact that I am no longer employed for health reasons, however, I am thrilled to be out of that rat race. Sometimes I bemoan our prior choices, even though I was very happy with the schools we had chosen.
Skyline is working just fine for my educationally exceptional child. It may not be the best academics in the world, but my son is learning many other important things as well--like learning to deal with people who are different than he is.
I think that had we been able to commit to being active parents in public school we could have made it work. I am finding that by paying attention and making myself heard I am able to get our needs met so far. If you want to talk more about these choices, feel free to give me a call. Barbara
I'd really appreciate hearing from 1.) students who attend Oakland or Skyline High and 2.) recent alums of these schools, and of course the parents of these two groups re the following questions:
1.) Oakland and Skyline High Students, do you feel safe at your school? I've read many articles in the Montclarion about the need for more police at Skyline's campus. Are there police patrolling Oakland High as well? Why are police needed at these schools?
2.) Alums: Did your high school education prepare you for college coursework? Thanks for your response
The biggest adjustment for my daughter at Skyline really has been on the academic side. It's much more rigorous than middle school, partly because she was placed in a couple of advanced classes, math and biology. Along with her other required classes, she also takes Spanish, and is in the school orchestra. Although she continues to do well academically, adjusting to the amount of homework and studying that was required was tough for her at first, even though she's a very self-motivated student. As far as I can see, Skyline is mostly like any other public high school in that if you're kid is motivated about school, they should do well there. I encourage other parents in the area to give this school a try. Ellen
Is Skyline High School a good school? The statistics on the school are not impressive, but wonder if anyone has any first hand experience. I personally feel the private high schools in the area have much more to offer than Skyline. Does anyone have an opinion on the OUSD public high school system? Chris K
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