The Big New World of a Public High School

small waldorf schoolI went to a public school throughout my childhood, K-12, though my ex was at a rather elite prep private school for her childhood. Two very different experiences. When our oldest began her own journey through schooling, we agreed that we’d like to do something different and enrolled her in a Waldorf School. Actually the Santa Cruz Waldorf School because at the time we were living in the Santa Cruz Mountains above Silicon Valley (and just down the road from Steve Job’s wife’s llama farm!)

Wasn’t long before we decided to leave California and the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley for the quieter climes of Boulder, Colorado and it was only natural that we stuck with Waldorf and enrolled our girl at the local Waldorf school. By then we had G- too, so he was pointed in that direction too, as was, eventually, K-, who still attends the school and is wrapping up a very successful 8th grade year.

Quite frankly, the Waldorf high school didn’t work out great for either of my older children and so when K- shared that she’d like to explore public school options rather than just lock-step go from an 8th grade Waldorf class to a 9th grade Waldorf class, both Linda and I were interested in the possibility. After all, seemed silly to send our third child to a high school that hadn’t supported either of our older children’s journey from 9th grade thru to graduation.

We toured a number of local high schools and rather to our surprise, it’s one of the biggest in the area that most appealed to both my 14yo and me, a school that has over 2000 students in its 9-12 program. 2000 students! The Waldorf school has under 75 across all four grades by comparison. Which means we’re now having to figure out enrollment, classes, electives, languages, etc, and it’s daunting. It’s college-level complexity daunting!

Here’s a flowchart with just the elective art classes. Amazing, really:

art class elective high school
Elective Art Classes in Public High School

In fact, the student handbook for K’s upcoming high school is 75 pages long, and about half of that is descriptions of the dozens and dozens of classes from which she can choose. It’s an embarrassment of riches — in a good way — and is really highlighting what my other children missed out on by being in such a small school. Even languages: The new high school offers Spanish, French and Chinese. I really hope K- takes at least one semester of Chinese (how cool is that?) but we’ll see.

Now to get back to the course guide to ensure she’s in the right classes to keep her challenged and engaged as she learns to navigate a big school and completely new social scene…

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