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Millennium High School (Piedmont, CA)

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > K-12 Schools > Piedmont Public Schools > Millennium High School (Piedmont, CA)



Millennium High for miserable BHS daughter?

May 2013

My daughter is ''successfully'' but miserably completing 9th grade at Berkeley High. We are looking for a better fit for next year. She is an artist with an experiential learning style and some dyslexia (not profound). She is somewhat introverted and needs a supportive community of peers. Does anyone have experience to share about Millennium High School, or other ideas? Searching Mom


My son attended Millenium for two years graduating in 2011. Dismal, dismal experience that ended up just waiting to get through it! The approach at the beginning of his junior year was definitely alternative, no or very little homework but engaging teachers and attentive principal. With the change in principal, there came a shift to a clearly remedial approach. Math classes were a joke and taught to the lowest common denominator (same math fact practice sheets that my fifth grader was doing!!). Open house was SUCH a disappointment. The quality of the work was inferior to anything imagined (grade-school dioramas were more elaborate and better thought out!). As a senior poetry assignment to bring in samples of great American poets, my son got full credit for Shel Silverstein's collections. By the time he was a senior any transfer would have been extremely difficult since he was so far behind the curve of any other school that we just decided to let him ride. He intended on working a few years before going to college and has been taking community college classes to make up what he missed.

I can't speak to how it's been lately but I strongly encourage you to visit the school, ask to see samples of work (or even sample of assignments) or attend an open house. For kids who need remedial work and are out of the mainstream of ''high school then on to college'', Millenium is a safe place to park them and have them get their required HS diploma. For anyone intent on college, beware! The saving grace for my son was that he could take AP classes and play varsity sports at Piedmont High. Word to the wise.... Alternative does not equal remedial!


Daughter is interested in Millennium High

Feb 2009

My daughter is pretty unhappy in her public high school and she says she is interested in Millennium High in Piedmont. I know there have been other postings from time to time about Millennium, but I wondered if anyone has more current information on the school. I am very curious about the school and classroom structures, the teachers, the administration, and the schedule. I'm trying to get a sense of whether it's a fit or not. Thanks in advance. Anonymous


My daughter is a Jr. at Millennium H.S. and it has been great for her. I've been impressed with the teachers, who seem to be very available to work with kids individually. My daughter has a lot of friends at Piedmont High, as do many of the other kids, so my fears about status issues was relieved.

She reports that some of the kids aren't into school and can be noisy in class so the kids who are interested sit in the front row. The classes are relatively small and I like their grading and credit system. Also, the principal is dynamite: very smart and savvy about teens. If you haven't visited, definitely do that. Jan


Bright daughter struggling at Berkeley High

Dec 2008

Hello - I am trying to find a good fit more my daughter who is academically gifted, but struggeling in the large classes and crowds of Berkeley High. We are considering a smaller school like Millenium or Maybeck (my ex lives in Piedmont). Does anyone have experience with either or both to share? We would like to find a place where kids can develop personal relationships with teachers in an kind and intellectually challanging environment. (shouldn't all schools be like that?). curious mom


My daughter went to Millennium from freshman year (fall 2000) through graduation (June 2004). My son went to Maybeck for his junior year (2007/08). These schools offer very different types of opportunities. Millenium is tiny--less than 80 when she went. About half the students otherwise would have been at Piedmont High, and the other half were from other districts. For her, the great advantage was that classes were graded by what she accomplished, and units allocated by how much she accomplished. It took her a very long time to complete some classes (math for example), while others she completed very quickly. There was a lot of leeway in how assignments were accomplished, so if she didn't feel like writing a paper, she could do a poster and a collage or present a scene from a play (much less choice in math--perhaps why it took so long). The down side was that she didn't get much experience with some of the more traditional skills one needs for college. The plus side was that she graduated (I don't think she would have made it through PHS) and that she felt good about her accomplishments. Maybeck is much more challenging, and does a much better job of prep for college. My son wrote at least a paper a month in English class (as compared to at most one a quarter at PHS), the feedback was intense, and there was a lot of personal attention. For him, the down side was the size (around 100 students) and one teacher, with whom he had really serious problems (generated on both sides). He went back to PHS in his senior year for the social scene, and is doing much better there this year, but he admits the quality of the teaching for most of his classes was excellent at Maybeck, and that he learned a lot while he was there. Both my daughter and son felt the diversity at their respective schools was a real plus. There are a lot of Berkeley kids at Maybeck, so it might be an easier transition socially than to Millennium, which is more and more PHS transfers, from what I hear. A parent who seeks out alternatives
My daughter attends Millennium and has many friends at Maybeck. Your child sounds like a good candidate for Maybeck which is more challenging than Millennium. My daughter has liked Millennium a lot, but doesn't do much homework and gets A's and B's without much effort. She was interested in Maybeck but knew herself well enough to know she didn't want to work as hard as they expect, quit a bit I think. So if your child is motivated I'd chose that as I think they have a great program. Anon

[Editor note] additional reviews were received for Maybeck HS


August 2008

We live in Piedmont and my son is currently a middle schooler. He has difficulty with some classroom activities and has received support in elementary and middle school. At the same time, he is bright and is interested in engineering as a career. I'm curious if there are parents out there who have gone through Millennium or PHS with a child with LD. Is there enough support at PHS? Is there adequate academic challenge at Millennium? How easy is it to move from one to the other or take classes at PHS if you're at M? Thanks for any thoughts! planning ahead


My child graduated from Millennium 2 years ago, so things may have changed since then. I think the new Principal was looking to bring standards up. However~ he went through the Piedmont school system as an average student, and when it was clear that PHS wasn't for him we switched him over. He was more comfortable there, but comfort does not = competence! There were rarely hard deadlines for assignments, mediocre work was given B's and even A's, and comments back from the teachers were mostly along the lines of ''don't worry about it. He's fine.'' Well, no, not really. I think the school can be good for self-motivated kids who don't fit in with the very traditional learning atmosphere at PHS, but I'd check carefully in your situation! anon
July 2007

I would love to hear from anyone who got their teenager into Millenium High School who lives outside of Piedmont. What kind of student is your child? What kind of students do they accept? I have heard they don't take children with IEPs for learning disabilities -- do they take kids with ADHD? I'm exploring the high school possibilities for my child and I'm trying to figure out if it is worth pursuing. Mother of a soon-to-be 8th grader


My daughter goes to Millennium High School. We first had her spend a day there to see if she would like it. I would recommend having a conversation with the principal, Jamie Adams, to ask her to explain the school . We then applied for an inter-district transfer (we live in Berkeley). We did that in November. We then applied for the school and were accepted after an interview - I think she was accepted in March or April. I found out that starting the process in November is the way to go because it's kind of first come first serve. My daughter had been at Waldorf school and needed something different from just a regular public high school. Millennium offers a more independent kind of learning and students can learn at their own pace. It's not strictly lecture and testing - it seems to be a more interactive process. It worked really well for my daughter in math because she struggles. She was able to work at her own pace and since they give the kids a choice by telling them what they have to do to get an A or B or C, she was really motivated to get an A and she worked really hard. It is also a small school so the kids get the attention they need. I really like the principal and the counselor, Pam Brandau. I have also been impressed by all the teachers I have met, they seem very dedicated and very smart. There isn't a lot of homework and I have sometimes worried that my daughter is not being challanged enough and that college will be a shock. I have expressed this to the school and we have been encouraged to have my daughter take some classes at Piedmont High since they tend to be more difficult. So I would say that we have been quite pleased with the school. It is a small school but since it is next door to Piedmont High they can have lots of friends without having a huge classroom experience. I don't know anything about how they address learning disabilities. My daughter has to work hard for her grades and she has done very well at Millennium. She has always been a good student but things don't come easily to her. Millennium Mom
I have a soon to be 9th grader with significant learning disabilities. She was at a private middle school, and when it came time to apply to high school, I went back to the public school where we live, and got my daughter re tested and commenced an IEP. My daughter was qualified, and would receive services in the public school, and the IEP mostly completed. I then applied to Millenium (as an out of district application/tansfer) because I too heard that it was a great place for kids with learning differences. I spoke at length with the principal, and she was very clear that she would not accept an out of district transfer of a student with an IEP even if I agreed to waive services by the Piedmont district. I am told what she said was illegal - but frankly, I appreciated her candor. I think if I had to do it all over again, I would not have had my daughter retested and get the IEP before the application - I am not certain that it would have helped. My original attitude was that in order to get the best high school fit, I had to be honest and direct with each of the high schools because I wanted to make sure that the school could meet my daughter's needs and that she could be successful there. We ended up selecting a different private high school. Anon
October 2005

Our family lives in Oakland and we would like our daughter to attend Millenium High School in Piedmont. We think that this would be a great fit for her. My parents still live in Piedmont and would participate in after care (our daughter could walk there after school) but legally we can't use their address or have her live with them.

We know we need to do an interdistrict transfer via Oakland School District. Any specific advise on how to do this? Do we need letters of recommendation from Oakland or Piedmont residents or educators? Lisa


We live in Oakland also and I got an interdistrict transfer to Piedmont for my daughter so she could attend Millenium. I was able to get it because I sometimes worked in Piedmont. Oakland can be very difficult to deal with and many people told me to keep on trying even if they deny the request the first time. The form you have to fill out gives you about half a line for your ''reason'' not much room to convince them. Feel free to email me if you'd like more info. TAM
February 2003

RE: 10th grader is doing poorly at Berkeley High.
Look into Millenium High School in Piedmont. I know a few other kids from BHS who are there. It's a very small (60-70 kids) environment. I don't know muchmore than that but I will be considering it for my son in a few years I think.


April 2002

Hello. I've looked on the website, but there were only 2 recommendations, both from around 3 years ago. Can someone share information about this school? Would it be appropriate for a child with LD and an IEP? Is it structured? Please give me the ''low-down''. Thanks. Tunisha


My daughter is a freshman at Millennium High this year. Millennium is a small alternative high school in the Piedmont Unified School District (about 70 students this year). Classes are also small--probably 10-15 students/class, students can work at their own pace, and there is more personal attention than in a normal public high school. Students are encouraged to take advantage of their strengths in doing assignments. For the first time in years, my daughter has had moments, at least, of feeling she is excelling academically. Students earn credits according to how much they accomplish in class. They also earn credits for outside activities, including sports or individual physical exercise programs, music and dramatic arts lessons and activities, employment, community college classes, and community service. The class schedule is flexible. Some students have a full day, 8:00-3:00, but most have a shorter schedule, either starting later or ending in the early afternoon. They are able to take courses at Piedmont High, if the schedule fits and there is space in the class. Students have a minimum rate at which they have to advance, and if they do not meet this requirement, they are assigned to afternoon tutorial classes. My daughter has learning differences but did not qualify for an IEP. She struggled and lost all motivation in Piedmont's very pressured middle school. Millennium has been a place where she feels accepted and successful, and where she is able to learn and enjoy her accomplishments, rather than feeling pressured by how much she hasn't finished. Also, this school allows her to focus on music and drama outside of school, activities that she learns a great deal from.

Millennium won't work so well for some students. Children who are not self motivated in anything may find the opportunity for earning outside credits too inviting as an opportunity to just hang out. Students who have learning disabilities that require help from a learning specialist would need to coordinate this service with Piedmont High, as it is not available at Millennium. (This would probably be an option available for Piedmont residents, but my guess is that a resident from another district might have trouble getting a transfer if it would add to demands for the already overloaded special ed program in the district--but it never hurts to try). Also, students who like to be part of the mainstream social milieu of a high school would probably find Millennium too small. (My daughter is happy to be completely removed from that milieu.)


May 2002

The Millenium School sounds very interesting from the short discussion of it here, but I'm having a hard time getting very much more information about it. They say prospective students and/or parents can't visit--that, because of its size, visits would be "too disruptive." How can anyone send their kids to a school they haven't visited? My child wants to know if this is a school that just "screw-ups" go to? Any more information would be appreciated. Thanks.


To the parent who wants to know more about Millennium and has not been given the opportunity to visit the school: I'm sorry I didn't see the request until today, because Millennium had a fund-raiser, Cabaret Night, last Saturday night (May 11th), which would have given a sense of the range of talents at the school. Almost all the performers were MHS students (a few were from other schools), and their interest in the school and commitment really showed. Performance went on for two hours and included several dance numbers by Attitude Dance Troupe--the director is an MHS student and troupe members are from MHS and other high schools, two more dance numbers with about 8-12 MHS students, choreographed by themselves, several song numbers, a flute player, poetry, a great jazz combo of drums and sax, and several band numbers which were very well received by the kids, where some of us parents had to retreat outside to get it to the decibel level we could tolerate. This is from a school with about 65 students. Teacher attendance was impressive, showing their commitment as well. The school is not just "screw-ups," but it does offer more personal attention for kids who can't seem to keep it all together in a large public school setting. I'll actually come out of my anonymity since I haven't mentioned my child in this note--you can send me e-mail or call if you have other questions. Also, I would recommend that you talk over things with the principal, Ken Yale. He interviews every student who applies, with their parents, so you would have a chance to see at least a bit of the school then, even if you might not get to visit a class in session.

For those wanting to know more about Millennium: Millennium High School's "Spring Showcase" will be held on May 30 at 6:30 at the Ellen Driscoll Theater, 325 Highland Avenue in Piedmont. (If you plan to come, you should probably call the school to confirm the time and place a day or two in advance). Cynthia


February 2002

I would like any information on the Alternative high school in Piedmont. Bonnie


To the parent who wanted info on Piedmont's alternative school: My daughter is a freshman at Millennium High, the alternative high school in Piedmont, and we think it's heaven. Sometime after her first few weeks there, she said, "Mom, it's like I'm not even in school." ( She's already on the honor roll, so it's nice to know she meant she loved the work, not that she wasn't doing it.)

Their web site, http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/mhs/, gives a good idea of the school. About half the curriculum is on-site in small, seminar-like classes, with much of the learning being done in the classroom through discussion and projects rather than through lectures and homework. The other half of the curriculum is put together by the student (with the help of the school staff) using activities like volunteering, working, classes at community college, martial arts, ice skating, you name it. The great thing is that the program really honors that old proverb, experience is the best teacher, so the work the kids do outside a classroom setting is honored equally with class work.

Also, a huge contrast to my daughter's experience in middle school is that the students are graded on what they've done, rather than on what they have not done. Subpar work is not accepted, and the students keep working on a project (say a math assignment) until the concept is mastered. If that means a student gets 6 assignments done instead of 10 in a grading period, they'll get a good grade but fewer units. When they catch up the work, they'll get the units. There is none of the gotcha attitude that prevailed in middle school, where kids were often not allowed to turn work in late, and had to keep going ahead even when they hadn't mastered what they were working on.

A nice aspect of having the kids work through subjects at different rates is that many of the classes are made up of kids from freshman through senior. It seems to give a very rich texture to the classroom discussions, and the classes are so small that the teacher can make sure each student is doing work appropriate for their grade level.

The school is open pretty much automatically to Piedmont residents, but out-of-town families go through an application and interview, and then must get an interdistrict transfer if accepted. This was no problem from Berkeley, but parents in Oakland have had a harder time getting the transfer.

I could go on and on about what a godsend Millennium is, but this is already too long. Email me if you have any more questions. Kay


My daughter is a 9th grader at Millennium High, the alternative high school in Piedmont. The school has approximately 65 kids, about half from Piedmont and half from other places. Most of the Piedmont students are there because the traditional schools in Piedmont have not worked well for them. The students from other places are there for a wide variety of reasons--some because they want an alternative approach, some because they want a school where they can get credit for outside work, community activities, and arts activities, some just to escape from a poor high school elsewhere in Alameda County. The admissions process is much more selective for the students from outside the district than for those from Piedmont. The classes are much smaller than at Piedmont High--probably 8-12 students is a typical range. In the school's academic classes (English, social studies, math and science), students earn credit by completing work with a grade of C or better, so they are graded on what they do, rather than graded down for what they do not do. If they have problems completing enough of their work to stay on track for graduating in 4 years, then they are put in tutorial classes, where they get some additional help and some homework oversight. A few electives are offered at the school, including art and some leadership classes, but many electives, and subjects such as PE, foreign languages, and music, must be completed elsewhere. For example, my daughter does lots of extracurricular music and drama, and gets credit for these classes. She gets PE credit for ice skating. She also takes Piedmont High's A Capella and Orchestra classes, for credit. Some students take advanced math and science or foreign language at Piedmont High, but it's on a space-available basis, no guarantees of admission. Others take these topics through local junior colleges, correspondance courses, summer courses, etc. This school has done two important things for my daughter. First, by taking away the pressure of turning in assignments on time, she finally feels like she has talent in at least some academic subjects, getting B's and A's instead of D's because of all the late and missing work. Second, there is MUCH LESS social pressure. Everyone at the school is a bit different in one way or another from the typical high-school student. None of them aspire to be part of the social in-crowd at a large public high school. A few, from Piedmont, have had some serious problems that have led them to come to the alternative school, but most are just there because they need a change from their previous school. It doesn't work for everyone. One other 9th grader who started with my daughter found there was not enough pressure to get her work done, and went back to PHS. Another of my daughter's friends felt it was a license to avoid all limits, and is now in boarding school (but she was a limit-pusher from the start). My daughter has also benefitted from meeting students from all over the county. I'm not sure how long this advantage will last. Piedmont students have priority, and the school only has permission to take students from outside the district if they have an enrollment of under 65. (On the other hand, there still are 2 or 3 dozen outside residents--it's worth a try if you're not from Piedmont).

Piedmont Independent Learning High School

From: Tamara (4/99)

In the April 23 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle appears an article announcing that the Piedmont Independent Learning High School is accepting applications. Any parent who has a child that requires a different academic setting should consider this campus. It is part of the "regular" Piedmont High School -- same building complex. They accept transfers from other school districts. All that we needed to do for Berkeley High was to request, by phone, an intra-district transfer, pick it up from the District Office and carry it to Piedmont High School. The Principal, Ken Yale, is a great administrator and person to work with. The teachers are all wonderful. It is structured with classes from 8-12 Noon, five days per week. It is a form of continuation high school that is different from many others. Students are there for many different reasons. My daughter needed less time in school while she focused on therapy for eating disorders. It enabled her to graduate on time and continue onto college (where she is now) and at the same time allowed her a much more flexible schedule that she needed, along with the peer group of other troubled teenagers. If anyone has any questions about it, please contact Ken Yale at: 510-594-2702.


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