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Bishop O'Dowd High School (Oakland, CA)
My daughter has just finished 8th grade, and she is currently slated to attend O'dowd in the fall. This said, with the sudden morality clause and the less-than-progressive attitude that I get from the school, we are now considering Skyline High School as an option. I would love to hear from parents who have thoughts on how the schools compare. Thank You. j
One thing to note - it is not the school requiring teachers to sign the new contract - it's the Oakland diocese at the hand of the bishop. (I will refrain from giving my opinion or thoughts about him and the contract situation. It's not nice.)
My personal opinion is that this will not have an affect on the stellar, progressive education students receive at the school. The school is not trying to cram any dogma or non-progessive agenda to students. I don't believe it will change with the contract fiasco.
My advice to you is to go talk to the administration about your concerns if you are feeling a ''less then progressive'' attitude from the school. I can't convince you otherwise if you genuinely feel it (or are reading about it) from the outside, but I can tell you that on the inside our experience has been nothing but good, open and progressive. Good luck with your decision! L
Re: Oakland Tech vs. Bishop O'Dowd
If you are considering Bishop O'Dowd, you should be aware that there is a new employment contract for O'Dowd teachers and staff which requires them to adhere to the Catholic church's teachings in both work and private life as a condition of their employment. This was reported in the news recently and has prompted more than one teacher to decide against returning to Bishop O'Dowd for the 2014-15 school year. I am including links to some recent news articles that are related to this.
SF Gate article http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Oakland-Diocese-requiring-educators-to-conform-to-5464492.php
KTVU interview with a teacher who refused to sign the contract http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/local/teacher-refuses-sign-controversial-catholic-teache/nft6N/
Official Updates from Bishop O'Dowd http://www.bishopodowd.org/admin/?p=7059
Change.org petition started by one of Bishop O'Dowd's students http://www.change.org/petitions/diocese-of-oakland-please-change-this-contract
Current Bishop O'Dowd Parent
Re: Comparing Parochial High Schools
I currently have a daughter who is a junior at O'Dowd, but I have two recent graduates as well who are both in college. Can't say enough about the academics and normal day to day activities for the students up there. The teachers are accessible all of the time and truly want to see their students succeed. My teenagers never missed a day of school and always wanted to be there for something that was going on. The school is not big as it seems with 1200 kids. The class sizes are small. In fact, my daughter is in an Art class this semester with 8 other kids. It is fantastic. You can get involved as a parent if you'd like, but you don't have too. All 3 schools are fantastic, but I believe O'Dowd stands out of the crowd. Check out their new environmental building online. It should open in April for the students and apparently on one of a few in the nation. Let me know if you have any other questions. Karen
Re: Catholic high school for child with out gay parents?
Hi, Hope this helps... I have a daughter attending Bishop O'Dowd High School currently and a graduate. I want to assure you that the environment is very open to all kinds of families and backgrounds. Both my children have friends and classmates with gay parents. The administration has a positive attitude towards alternative lifestyles and offers clubs and courses for students to explore their interests. As for middle school, I cannot suggest a Catholic school, however I suggest Julia Morgan School for girls located on Mills campus. Best of luck! an Oakland Mom
I knew the school 8 years ago and am now considering the school again. I know about the concerns regarding alcohol and feel it is being addressed. I had heard there were some problems with the laptop program working out. If there are any recent parents would you please address. 1. How is laptop program? 2. Has the math department improved-specifically Calculus 3. Is it really hard to get in to AP classes? (I heard they have made it near impossible) 4. How is Mandarin working out? Any more German? thanks value your opinion
Re: How to Choose which Private High School?
There are many things to think about when starting the HS search. You obviously know your child well and have determined that she will do well academically at most of the private schools, however the social aspect is your challenge. Have you asked her what school she prefers? Have you visited the different campuses? Is she into sports or clubs? For instance my daughter is now into forensics and debate and not all the schools have competitive debate teams. We are fortunate to have so many clubs so kids can find activities that interest them. We looked at the schools you mentioned but my daughter decided she wanted something larger that had more diversity and choices. She chose Bishop O'Dowd. There are over 50 clubs and a lot of sport (no cut teams in many cases) choices that can be tried. One thing to think about is that living too far away from the school makes it difficult to go to afterschool and evening events on campus. Happy Bishop O'Dowd family
We have a good option for K-8, but are worried about high school. The expense of many of the private high schools can be prohibitive. Our options are either try to move to Piedmont for the long term, or to go for one of the less expensive high schools like Bishop O'Dowd. Does anyone know how Bishop O'Dowd compares to a place like Piedmont High in terms of academic preparation for college? (Both provide a large social environment, which is important for developing important social and life skills). Thanks, -Frank
She now attends Bishop O'Dowd which was her 1st choice after evaluating about 8 private schools from Lafayette to SF. We paid significantly more for Middle School tuition and annual fund donations than we do for everything at BOD. We consider it a price performer :) Our daughter will be a junior next year and I have to say that Bishop O'Dowd has been an excellent educational experience to date. She is thriving and really likes the curriculum and teachers (except for a few classes of course). The student body is racially and socio-economically divererse which was important to me. There have been a couple of kids expelled due to some very serious infractions and I can tell you it made a huge impact on the other students to see that there are serious consequences if you make really poor choices. This is all part of what I like about Bishop O'Dowd. The faculty and administration are an amazing team and respect both Parents and students alike! Those of you who know Joe Salamack, our great Principal,know he is lovingly tough but always fair. He is totally committed to making each day the best it can possibly be for all the students.
Beside the school work there are over 50 extra curricular clubs to choose from and almost every athletic sport you can think of. Just a couple of weeks ago my daughter said that Bishop O'Dowd was absolutely the right choice for her. If you have a middle schooler who will be evaluating High Schools next year I would recommend you look at Bishop O'Dowd. Happy Dragon Parent
(Editor Note: a response was also received about Moving to Piedmont vs. private high school)
I would like to hear from families that have gone to or currently send their child(ren) to Bishop O'Dowd. What is it like there? What if you are not Catholic, are you welcomed there? How safe is the campus as far as drugs and acceptence of peers? How about real shy kids? Thanks
I've read all the postings about Bishop O'Dowd and have been pretty impressed. One comment I heard from an acquaintance is that their math department is particularly weak, however, and this is a concern of mine. Can anybody else comment on the math program at O'Dowd? As well as any other current concerns/ positive things about the school? Thanks much. Wondering
Overall a pretty good school
I would still appreciate some more views on O'Dowd. My son loved it. We were a bit concerned
about some things.
1.Are there enough guidance counselors?
2. No science in ninth grade?
3. Do you have to be a go getter to do well there?
Re: looking for a high school
My husband, his brothers and sisters, attained minority scholarships for a private Catholic School in S.F. called St. Ignatius - apparently it is highly recommended, even 20 years later. We live in the East Bay and my son, who transferred out of Berkeley High now attends Bishop O'Dowd, another private Catholic School in Oakland. Although we are not a religious family, my son loves it and my has excelled in all subjects the quality of education is fabulous. Monthly it's a big chunk of money - and I sometimes wonder how we are going to last three more years, but consider it well worth it and wouldn't consider any other school. Good Luck with your son. Pat
Re: Doing Poorly at Berkeley High
My son wanted to attend Berkeley and I was quite happy to give it a try. He started off good, but as time went by his grades dropped from A's to C's and D's. He played truant, locked himself in his bedroom and refused to come out. In the beginning like most parents we thought it was his teenage mood swings, but then it became obvious something was really wrong when he began to slash his wrists. He hated the B.High culture and claimed school was a waste of his time as far as getting an education. The depression went on - we sought counseling - like many parents we thought what the hell can I do. I can't afford a private high school on my salary.
I somehow found the money to send him to Bishop O'Dowd. As much as it is a hardship for us to find the extra cash - I can honestly say in the three months that my son has been there I have a totally different child. He has gone from failing and falling through the cracks to being an up beat motivated kid that loves school. His grades this semester are four A's one B and a C - such a miraculous improvement over B.High.
What is the difference - lower class size - strong values for respect for each other - child held accountable by the school - text books (which we have to buy of course) - closed campus - high levels of professional security - more counselors per child and the obvious no government budget cuts....
I think you just have to listen to your kid and find some way to get them out of B.High if you have to.
I have two daughters presently attending O'Dowd and one who graduated from O'Dowd in 1993. My husband and I and the girls all feel that O'Dowd is a very good high school -- and for many reasons. It is not perfect -- and no school really is. We are not Catholic; in fact, we are not affiliated with any religious denomination. The school population is composed of (roughly) 50% Catholics, with the other 50% being Jewish, Protestant, Agnostic, Atheist, and "other." We appreciate the school for many reasons and at the top of our list is the fact that there is dogma forced upon its students whatsoever. The Religion classes taught are some of the very best in the school (Living and Dying, World Religions, Family, -- to name a few). The school is diversely populated (both ethnically and socio-economically); it is relatively small (approximately 1050 students); has excellent Drama Department; has excellent sports program for young women and young men; requires "community service" of all students; addresses (mainly in the Religion classes) such topics as "abortion," gay/lesbian awareness issues, etc. Students respect each other and respect differences. It's a safe place; parent participation is strong. Like any school, it has its mixture of "top-notch teachers," mediocre teachers, and somewhat limited teachers.
Check out the school's upcoming spring musical (Cabaret) which is advertised in the Montclarion. Also, call the O'Dowd Box Office re ticket info (577-9140). It's opening at the end of April and runs through the first two weekends of May. ALL of their productions are Excellent and a real treat. Recommend you take a peek at this one little part of O'Dowd. You won't be sorry, guaranteed!!
To put it simply: it's good, traditional school (and very "non-traditional Catholic school") that provides very good academic training and a healthy and full social environment. We give it a good, solid "A." Deborah
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