High School choices...experiences???

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Kjs, Dec 6, 2007.

  1. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    Hope this is the right place to post this.

    Wednesday at difficult child's school, the "choice" High Schools made a presentation. This is not the typical district school.

    We live less than a block from the High School. They run a block schedule. 4 - 90 minute classes a day. Credit at semester rather than a full year for a credit. This gives the student 8 credits a year vs. 6 with the hourly system. This high school has over 3000 students.

    The schools that made a presentation today are, a high school that specializes in audio/radio production. Kids take part in the production of the TV show. (as well as core academics). This school is about 7 miles away. They DO provide transportation.

    A school that specializes in technology, works with the local technical college. Auto body, computers...This is about 4 miles away.

    an alternative school. Single parents go here as it provides a nursery and each students is required to spend time in the nursery caring for the children. All students welcome. They also have a ROTC here. 5 miles

    A new charter school..where my neighbor/friend works. No jeans, no t-shirts, anything below a 70 is an F.

    E-School. Yep, listed on the district web site. Of course difficult child chose THIS one. However this school is not even going to be considered. This would isolate him socially. (not that he has a social life or even gets along with anyone right now) But, he spends so much time playing games on the computer, and chatting, that I feel he would not be doing school work, be distracted by other things, and is just not disciplined enough to do it WHEN it is expected to get done. i do not have the time to be there and watch, nag or remind him what he should be doing.

    difficult child's second choice is the Academy which specializes in audio/radio broadcasting. The farthest away. His reason "All my friends are going there". Ok..at this moment..WHAT friends.

    Here are my pro's and my cons. Hoping to get input from others.

    In the larger school near my house (I would never have to drive)
    There are over 3000 kids. Many, many, many activities (If he would ever show an interest). If at any particular time he isn't getting along with "friends" there are so many other choices. So many kids, so many options. I also realize with this many kids the staff is much tougher. This way or no way. That will be very hard on difficult child.

    The school he shows an interest in...is fairly new. The parents I know who had kids go there did not like it. A year or so ago there seemed to be a lot of teen suicides. This school had the most. I know that doesn't mean anything, but it is in the back of my mind. I also realize the smaller school would probably be more patient with him. Teacher/student ration much smaller.
    But...if he isn't getting along with teachers/ students, he is just out of luck.
    He said they provide transportation. Heck he will spend several hours on the bus because it is so far away they must have a million stops. There isn't much development in that area yet.
    It IS right across the street from the industrial park my husband works in. (through the field, across the street)
    No sports teams. Never really looked into it because I just had my mind made up he would go to the local school. It is a very good school, very good reputation. And did I mention..very close.
    When easy child went through school, he just went to school, did what he was suppose to. Never questioned things,never worried about anything.
    what can we do? Can we call the school and ask for more information? Can we tour the school? I am sure we can, but who do we talk to. Do we mention he has an IEP? I am scared. He isn't even 13 yet.(ten days) Even though my easy child went to the "close" high school..I was only IN that school ONE time. Been in the gym and in the auditorium, easy child was in theater/drama. that one time was to pick him up for an appointment or something. ONE time. I don't even know where the office is. Can't even imagine not knowing where the office is.
  2. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    Our local school district has many "magnet" schools. Each has a different teaching style, or something that they concentrate on. Each has pluses and minuses.
    Plus we have a ton of parochial and private schools to choose from.

    NL goes to the public school that a student must "test" into. It's rated one of the top 100 high schools in the nation. It's fairly large (1500 in 7th - 12th grade), with is a minus as far as NL is concerned, he does better in small class sizes. It's on the other side of town, and he has to catch a public bus at 6:15 am to get to school on time, and it takes him about an hour riding to get home.

    My advice is to go and talk to each school. Ask to see state test scores, see their graduation rates, and number of students that go on to college / military / etc. Ask if you can observe a class or two. Also, with the IEP, ask to talk with the group that will be responsible for this (and ask if there's any transition service available).

    Also look at the classes available. Is your son science oriented? Technically oriented? More into math or English? How about languages offered? Art? Music? And sports may or may not be important.

    You may not find a great fit, but you may find one that at least will be a good one.
  3. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    Oh..too much information to think about. Didn't know going to high school involved so much thought.

    At difficult child's middle school there are about 1100 6-8 graders. The entire 6th grade, 7th grade and 8th grade eat at the same time. three lunch periods. There are 364 8th graders.

    This is complicated. He is in some honors classes. Does well, but hates school.

    I best start checking things out now.

  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    Going to high school now is like pre-college. They want you to start picking a major for life in freshman year. You pick a track and stick with it.

    Skeeter is right. Go tour the different schools and pick the one that is the best fit for your son, not the one that is the closest to you location wise.
  5. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    I would let your son have a lot of say in the decision. Not to say he gets the final choice. I would have him go with you on the tours, maybe after you have narrowed it down to the ones you think are acceptable.

    Maybe a school that produces a TV/radio show is a good fit for him. It will force him to work with other kids in a less structured setting than a classroom.

    My kids go to a small private school. There are 45 kids or less per grade. I had concerns about this because I thought their chances of clicking with someone were smaller. But this school is a "kind and gentle" place compared to the very well-regarded public school they used to go to. Socially, both of mine have done well there. My older one started in 3rd grade and seemed to blossom socially when she switched. I thought at the time it was because everyone was a little "geeky" (like her), so she fit in better.

    So your son picking a school that he is interested in will put him around other kids with similar interests. Maybe he will do better socially.
  6. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    I feel like I live in the boonies!!! We have one little tiny High School with a leaky roof... No options... yikes
  7. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Yes, I would tour the schools.
    They all sound great, except the e-school. I wouldn't do that unless my child were a paraplegic or something. I agree that it is too isolating.
    Gosh, so many choices!
    Have him tour them with-you. He'll balk but it will be a good experience for him.
  8. Our difficult child goes to a very small high school, with small classes - usually 20 or fewer students. We're on the block system and I highly recommend it. I can't imagine him in a large school... he would get lost and "swallowed up".

    I think the most important issue to consider when checking out schools for a difficult child is the school's principal and their leadership in the special education area. As they believe - so goes the school. If the principal endorses the use of and adherence to IEP's you are going to have lots of help. If they don't, well I wouldn't consider the school.

    I think that the school absolutely needs to know about the IEP and difficult child's needs up front. I have learned to INSIST upon a face to face IEP meeting BEFORE the first class. I also meet face to face independently with all of the teachers periodically, and e-mail them often. I believe that communication with all of the teachers is absolutely crucial!

    Even though I am a frequent visitor at difficult child's high school, and despite my best efforts, a couple of teachers have absolutely refused to believe that difficult child has any issues beyond being "a space cadet"( as one wrote me in an e-mail) or lazy. That's when my relationship with the principal and the director of Special Education for the school system became crucial. They absolutely saved the day for difficult child!

    It has been intimidating to do this work. I wish that I had been more diligent about it from the very beginning, though. It's not easy to sit in a meeting with 7 to 8 school personnel each semester - knowing that some "get it" and some don't care and never will "get it". Even so, I think that this preventative work has definitely paid dividends. I understand what you are saying about your school experience with your easy child. We just didn't have these issues with our easy child, and while I went to the school pretty frequently it definitely was for other types of issues - not tense IEP meetings!

    Good luck in your search. It's nice to have a choice!
  9. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    I am concerned for him. I have ruled out a few. Even though I feel one of the schools would be a good fit for him, it is the only high school with a baby-lab, so single high school mothers can attend school. There is individualized accelerated classes. However, it is in the center of the city, and most of the students are "hardened". difficult child isn't even 13 yet. (9 days). He isn't as mature as others in his grade. He yearns for friends, and I believe would be influenced to easily.

    E-school, I learned is also available to just take a class and not the entire curriculum. That MAY be an option for a class, but not for the school year.

    My biggest problem is that the two "choice" schools that specialize in a particular technology, isn't the school, isn't the size or even the location. The problem I struggle with is difficult child has not shown any interest in these technologies. ONLY that his "friends" are going there. To me that is not a reason to choose a particular school.

    I will attend the schools open houses. I will probably meet with someone from the schools.

    So true about the IEP's. Some teachers just don't care. Some don't want to get it. And I do communicate with the teachers atleast on a weekly basis. Given difficult child's recent sadness, tic's, anxiety, I am not requesting progress reports at this time. I am not discussing school. That seemed to be the only topic at home for several weeks. Going to just let it be for now.

    Thanks for the input.
  10. ysne58

    ysne58 New Member

    Yeah, choice of school is hard. We have our son in a charter school that is a montesorri junior and senior high.

    Our daughter is currently attending a k - 8 private quaker school.

    Both are making huge progress in academics, social skills and how to resolve conflict.

    Just keep looking, there are schools out there, some of them are just not easy to find. Also most of the private schools do have some kind of scholarship program. Do not be afraid to look at these schools because of lack of funds.

  11. Sue C

    Sue C Active Member

    Hard decision for you. But I do know that you have to be comfortable with where your difficult child will go to high school. We allowed Melissa to go to public school in 8th grade. The kids were AWFUL to her! The classes were large. It seemed teachers did not care. She did not have an IEP, but I did go in for a few meetings trying to get extra help for her in Math, and the teacher did not seem to have time for her. Thus, she failed most the tests.

    Our decision was a private Lutheran high school beginning in 9th grade and all the way through graduation. Best decision we ever made. It was a very small school just starting out. (she was the second class) The teachers cared about each and every student. Melissa's behavior improved a lot while going to that school.

    You said you felt the public school with 3,000 kids was tougher. I found that the opposite was true. The mean kids were not disciplined. One boy slammed Melissa's hand in her locker and got a gentle warning---his parents were not even called (he constantly called her names before this occurrence--filthy names). In the private school, they were a lot tougher. They actually kicked kids out of the school for things that I know the public school would have done nothing about, i.e. a girl stole perfume out of another girl's locker, a boy took another boy's car and drove it around on lunch hour. There were reprimands to students who were mean to other students.

    Tour the schools and allow input from your difficult child but, in the end, let it be your decision that you are comfortable with. Just my 2 cents.