DCB staff and several Graduate Bounders possess first-hand knowledge about the academic options our Bounder audience is evaluating for high school. In this area of the Student Forum, we gather and present school perspectives from peers and teachers who attend (or graduated from) local public, local magnet/CTA, local private, and boarding schools. Please take a moment to provide candid feedback on your own high school to fellow Junior and Senior Bounders in an effort to provide constructive advice regarding high school choices.
The Thacher School - Ojai, CA
Sophomore, Class of 2018
Thacher is not the conventional high school. It is a small boarding school located in the small valley of Ojai, California where a love of outdoors and animals is evident. The student population totals around 260 students. As a freshmen, you are required to ride and take care of a horse for the entire year, which is both physically and mentally challenging because horses are the most stubborn animals on earth. Freshman year, I went on three camping trips, all of which were better than the previous. The first was a trip to Golden Trout Wilderness; second, I rock climbed in Joshua Tree; third, and best, we rode bikes 105 miles from San Ynez to Padaro Beach in Santa Barbara. If you seek adventure, challenge, and beautiful sunsets, The Thacher school is for you.
Carson Van Kalsbeek
Sophomore, Class of 2018
Thacher is a school for the adventurous, brave, and intelligent. The horse program takes a surprising amount of effort. The level of energy put into riding and taking care of a horse is unanticipated. Said horse will challenge you quite possibly to your limits, as it has mine. Thacher is also a place where you can rest and have fun as well. With the beautiful scenery, great weather, and good friends, Thacher does not lack the ability to please its inhabitants. Although there is plenty of work, both physical and mental, I sort of didn't feel it because I was having a lot of fun at the same time. Thacher also gives the best education I could ask for, including small classes, great teachers, and fantastic curriculum. The small classes, although very different from many schools, lets you enjoy subjects by thriving and participating in them. Teachers are always there for you, and since there are multiple teachers for each subject, your teachers will know exactly who you are, in what you exceed, what you lack, and your overall personality. Thacher is a place where you exceed your comfort zone.
Senior, Class of 2016
Thacher has been such an incredible place to attend, mainly due to the fact that a student here can really grow and prosper in an environment where you are both nurtured and challenged. Thacher will not only challenge you academically, but socially. Since Thacher has such a small community, it really fosters a unique sense of family amongst not only the students, but faculty. I would suggest that the type of Bounder who would enjoy life at Thacher would be one who is not afraid of adventure. A Bounder with academic drive, prominent social skills and a willingness to be open-minded would thrive here on campus.
West Career and Technical Academy - Las Vegas, NV
Sophomore, Class of 2018
West Career and Technical Academy is a magnet school that offers 9 programs of study. During my 9th grade year, I enrolled in the environmental science program, in which I studied a variety of subjects. I explored potential solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental issues such as oil spills, climate change, and the ever-growing energy crisis. I learned how to analyze the environment of any given area, examining both the abiotic and biotic factors that help form an ecosystem. Though I spent some time taking notes and discussing topics, the environmental program was a hands-on experience. I was fortunate to be able to take several field trips, including a weekend trip to Camp Lee in Mt. Charleston and Sea Camp in Catalina Island. Both trips allowed me to grow closer to my classmates as well as evaluate the two contrasting ecosystems. On the West CTA campus, I was incredibly grateful to have access to a 4-pod greenhouse with an extensive outdoor soil area. In my greenhouse management class, I explored several different hydroponic systems and grew crops including tomatoes, different species of lettuce, peppers, and cucumbers. The greenhouse program was one of the highlights of my year and I’ve developed a love and appreciation for the agricultural business as a result of the class. West Tech is a unique school in that students are required to take 8 classes, which includes a class dedicated to the program chosen. West CTA runs off a block schedule, which means that students attend 4 classes a day and spend about 80 minutes in each class. School starts promptly at 7:00 am and ends at 1:25 pm. The early mornings were tough to adapt to at first, but I was thankful for the early release because it permitted participation in after school sports at my zoned school, Palo Verde. At Palo, I ran cross country, track, and played flag football. The longer class times can be exhausting, but the teachers are mindful of this and make an effort to do a variety of activities to prevent boredom. Overall, West CTA was a great experience and I recommend the environmental science program to any student who is passionate about the natural world and is eager to step outside their comfort zone.
Senior, Class of 2016
West Career and Technical Academy is a wonderful place for Bounders who are interested in any of this school's nine programs of study. WCTA is a project based learning school, so students are often working in groups using different aspects of 21st century technology. Two days each semester, students conduct a school-wide PBL, and each time it is a different theme. My school is preparing me ahead of time for my future through the program classes I am taking. I have had the pleasure of meeting my amazing friends and teachers, and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
Graduate, Class of 2014
West Tech has a bunch of different programs that can fit the career path of a lot of individuals. There is environmental science, business management, biotechnology, civil engineering, information technology management, nursing, sports medicine, pre-medical sciences, and lastly, digital media. The program I was in was the Digital Media program which is how I got my art and animation experience. For those of the Bounders that were in my 3D animation class, West Tech's Digital Media program is the way to go. It doesn't just have animation, but Photography, Art, Drawing, Video Production, and Website Design. Again, this is just one program, there are many others that you can check out. Overall, if you have a certain career path you want to go down, West Tech is the way to go.
Bishop Gorman High School - Las Vegas, NV
Sophomore, Class of 2018
One of the cool things about Bishop Gorman is our class size. We have enough students you will be able to find a lot of people like you, which allows you to be really close with your friends. At the same time, there aren't so many students that you get lost in the crowd. Our campus is very new and beautiful. There are a variety of course levels, with many AP class offerings. We also have exceptional sports teams and a very active student government, so going to all the events is super fun. I am proud everyday to walk onto Bishop Gorman's campus, hang out with my friends, and get an excellent education.
Sophomore, Class of 2018
Gorman is a very athletically competitive school. It also has a great focus on religion, specifically the Catholic faith. It stands out from the average high school for having the number one ranked football team in the nation. There is also the Scholars program, a program for core classes that is above honors level classes, which unlike AP, are available to all grades. Community service is also a big focus at Gorman, with weekly competitions to see which class can raise the most money for charity. I would recommend Bishop Gorman for any Bounder who loves athletics, or is very spiritual.
Junior, Class of 2017
While the country may know Bishop Gorman as the #1 ranked football team in the nation, the school is so much more to me and all of my classmates. Athletics is a very emphasized part of the school, so it's easy to miss the fact that the academics are also excellent. I have been in the Scholars program at Gorman since my freshman year. The classes are challenging, but enjoyable. Also, Bishop Gorman gives students the opportunity to get involved in the community through Christian service hours. Gorman is a great school, especially for athletes because the sports programs are all exceptional. I was apart of the varsity volleyball team this year and my schedule was definitely full at all times, but I loved it. The student body is very spirited, making the big Friday night football games super fun. As a Catholic school, the incorporation of religion in the everyday life at Gorman is nice, however the school does not push Catholicism on anyone. Bishop Gorman is a great option for every type of student; a scholar, an athlete, a musician, or an actor. Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions: email@example.com.
Spring Valley High School - Las Vegas, NV
Senior, Class of 2016
My high school is special because each person goes on their own journey and by talking to their peers they learn about themselves and the people around them. My school is important because it helped me realize what is important to me in life. Don't let anyone convince you about what you are in. You always have a choice in life and choose wisely. Wisdom is something you find throughout yourself in life and if you ever forgot what's important to you or get confused in life it's OK. That is supposed to happen... just look around you each day and use your senses because life is all around you if you ever stray from your path. I did and it's so easy to do, and it's so easy to get back on track, but the hardest thing is realizing what the problem is because most of the time we don't know how to or what the problem is because we get blinded by the artificial things such as drugs, money, cars, houses, etc.., and you have to realize what you have had success with in life and stick with it until that runs out. Then you must struggle to get through that end, to the next thing in life that makes you happy and only you know what that is so stick with it and the people that come along are the ones who you need to keep and are supposed to be in your life. You take care if you and everything else will follow. Don't over think life because it's so simple. Just look around you and your senses because if you take care of your body then you will ultimately be the best you can and that is when you conquer the world. YOU must be the change and help those around you realize what's important to them! When you can't go any further use those around you to help you get back on the right track because they will help you because they want what is best for you, even when you forget what you want and what's best for you. Please talk to me if you have any questions! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tabor Academy - Marion, MA
Graduated, Class of 2015
It is a very big step in a person's life to leave the comfort of their home, especially if this step comes when that person is fourteen years old. If you are not too keen on leaving home at such a young age, then boarding school might not be the best thing. However, if you do choose to go to boarding school, it will be one of the best decisions of your life. Nicknamed “The School by the Sea,” Tabor offers a vast array of classes pertaining to the ocean such as nautical science and aquaculture. The class sizes are small, ranging from 5-15. With these small sizes, students get sufficient amount of attention to succeed. When the school day is done, Tabor keeps you busy with after school activities such as sports and clubs. You will rarely find yourself with nothing to do on a school day or weekend. Personally, I think any type of Bounder would have the capability to thrive while at Tabor Academy, as long as they can handle being away from their family. For example, when I came to Tabor, I was a soft spoken, shy and awkward fourteen year old. By my Senior year, I had been on the student council for three years, founded numerous clubs (the poker and terrible movie clubs) and achieved varsity status in both football and sailing. When ever you are feeling beaten down, students and teachers will always be there to pick you back up. No one there will judge you for being yourself. Finally, students and staff will always encourage you to be the best you can be every day, which is something a lot of places do not encourage.
Phillips Exeter Academy - Exeter, NH
Graduate, Class of 2015
There is nothing regular about Phillips Exeter Academy. First of all, it’s located in a small town called Exeter all the way in New Hampshire, so if you’re a homebody and couldn’t stand the thought of living away from home this school may not be for you. School can be tough when homesickness hits, but trust me the school keeps you very busy and the homesickness will leave quickly. Time flies at Exeter, so your next break is never far. If you can stand leaving home, Exeter truly provides the opportunity of a lifetime. I have matured so much here. At Exeter, we employ the Harkness method; we all sit around a large circular Harkness table and engage in discussion, teaching students to articulate their ideas, and our classes are never larger than twelve students so there is always a chance to join the discussion. When we are out of class, most of us live in dormitories. I see my classmates 24/7: we eat together in the dining hall, we play sports together, we join clubs together, we sleep together. From this, I have forged some of the strongest relationships of my life. I do have to say, Exeter is really only for those ready on to take a challenge. Exeter is notorious for piling on work, the weather (especially in the winter) can be tough for Las Vegas students, and the days can sometimes seem to linger on forever. But now coming out of Exeter, I feel there is no other school in the country that could have prepared me better for what lies ahead. If you are seriously interested in boarding school, I seriously recommend giving Exeter a look, the website is very helpful in helping students decide if Exeter is right for them. If you have any questions about Exeter or any other Northeast schools, feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
The Meadows School - Las Vegas, NV