Town Square

help choose between schools

Original post made by khurshid, Charleston Meadows, on Sep 9, 2006

hi there
any asap help would be provided, my kid is currently a kindergartener at briones and we have no problems and love the school so far. as of friday, we got a call saying that we had got in at hoover (we initially did'nt luck out with the lottery admission). i am in a dilemma -- whether or not to switch him to hoover or to keep him at briones.
any help/comments would be welcome. i know hoover is more academic, but does not seem to have/welcome the same level of parent participation that briones does. any thoughts on this???
thanks in advance...oh..the deadline for us to accept is by 7.30 a.m monday (11th sept)
please do pass on your comments asap...


Like this comment
Posted by Pauline
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Sep 10, 2006 at 12:58 pm

This is an awkward question to answer for parents at either school, but I will try. I have had kids at several schools, one of them very much like Hoover, and now at Juana Briones.

I think the decision depends on what kind of kid and family you have/want. My eldest went to a structured, high expectation, old-fashioned type environment with little parent involvement allowed, a high homework load, and an old-fashioned emphasis on reading, writing and math. All the students were high performing. For him, it was great, and it fit him. He thrived on the structure and the workload. I missed, very much, the parent part. But, he was happy, learned a phenomenal amount and is now at Gunn reaping the benefits of being completely prepared to take any of the classes he wishes to take, and handle any workload he wishes.

That same environment was NOT good for my son who is now at Juana. He needed something completely different. In his case, he learned in a completely different way from the style of the school he was at. ( The same school as his elder brother). He started to believe he wasn't too smart, and started disliking school. So, he ended up at Juana when we decided to leave.I love Juana Briones, and recommend it to anyone and everyone, as being a school that can manage any kind of child and his needs. Our son is thriving there, and catching up beautifully. And I love being in a school where I can be involved. I have seen kids in kindergarten here who are reading at the 3rd grade level, in the same class with kids who are still learning their ABCs, and the teachers manage to keep all of them involved and challenged. I am very comfortable with the large variety of abilities in the school and the varied teaching styles. There is a teacher in each grade who is just right for every type of kid.

So, it really depends on what kind of environment you want or are comfortable with.

Like this comment
Posted by Carol
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 10, 2006 at 6:32 pm

I have put some thought into this for you. I can't speak for the academic angle, but my thoughts are from the practical and social angles. If you like the school you are at, I say stay with it. My reasons are that now you are only in Kindergarten, but do you want to spend the next 6 years (or more) driving your child all over town to spend time with classmates at playdates and birthday parties. You will never be able to allow your child to walk or ride a bike to school and teach him/her a small level of independence which will carry on to middle and high school. (If you drive all the time now they will always expect it). Also, the children in our neighbourhood who go to the choice schools do not seem to know or become close friends with the others of our neighbourhood who know each other from the local "regular" school. Although there probably is a community feel to Hoover, you can't beat the feeling of walking (or bike riding or scootering) to school, meeting friends on the way and also getting to know your neighbours. If you are in your neighbourhood school you are able to help keep traffic off the roads during commute hours which makes the streets safer for all of us.

I hope that these thoughts help in your decision although I know that they don't particularly address your question. Let us know what you decide.

Like this comment
Posted by JLS Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Sep 12, 2006 at 10:16 am

At the back to school ice cream social for the entering 6th graders, I talked to a mom who's child had come from Hoover. She was disappointed in her child's experience at Hoover and said it was ridiculously strict and way too much homework. Her son didn't like it. When I asked her why she had him in Hoover, she didn't realize that it was different than any other schools in Palo Alto...

Please make sure you know that your child will get a great education at whatever Palo Alto school they go to. If you want to choose this approach, you should make sure you have a personal compelling reason for it, and not just because its higher peforming school. Every silver lining has a cloud..

Like this comment
Posted by An O Nymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2006 at 12:38 pm

Are you sure that you guys downplaying Hoover aren't on Hoover's waiting list?

;-) ;-) (really, just kidding, don't take it personally, anybody)

Like this comment
Posted by RP
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 14, 2006 at 8:31 pm

Different kids/families do well in different environments.

- Decide what is right for your family -- what fits with your beliefs and philosophy and culture.

- Remember that all Palo Alto schools are VERY good. You're deciding between 90th percentile and 99th percentile.

- How important is 99th percentile academics to you? Are you willing to sacrifice other after-school activities or free play to achieve it? Are you willing to incur additional stress to achieve it? Will your child be reasonably happy in spite of this stress?

Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 14, 2006 at 8:32 pm

*** Please let us know what you decided, and why!

Like this comment
Posted by anon
a resident of Duveneck School
on Sep 18, 2006 at 3:04 pm

The neighborhood school makes the most sense, in my opinion, unless you have a really compelling reason for selecting another school. I have experience commuting to schools and it can be a real hassle.

Like this comment
Posted by Briones Alumni Mom
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 29, 2006 at 7:04 pm

Although the decision must end up being a family one, don't ever sell Briones short (or for that matter dis Hoover): every school is different. Both my kids went to Briones and now several years later the results are in: 800 on the Math for the SAT II exams - Over 90% in the percentiles on STAR tests and most of all, happy, competent, joyful kids. They are aware of social justice issues, they know how to navigate the world, they relate to peers and adults equally well. Do I hold their elementary school responsible for these behaviors? Well, yes. I take some credit, but the atmosphere at Briones has served them well and I feel so lucky to have had that experience for them. I know you probably already decided and I'm guessing that you did the right thing for your kids, but just wanted to add my $.02.

Like this comment
Posted by anon
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 15, 2006 at 4:58 pm

why is Math all that matters to you - I get tired of this in P.A.

Like this comment
Posted by A reader
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2006 at 11:34 pm

To anon,

You must be tiring very easily. Math was barely mentioned twice in this whole forum, in both cases peripherally and in context with other things.

You must REALLY dislike math. I'd also hazard a guess that you are one of these "I was bad in math" people and proud of it. What more needs one say?


Like this comment
Posted by seekinginfo
a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2006 at 7:44 am

thank you for all the comments as we are from out of the area and considering to move to Palo Alto. we were not aware of the various school options and choices but we are taking the time to visit the schools. we haven't purchased a home yet as we were looking at the various schools.

Like this comment
Posted by Biones Alumni Mom
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 20, 2006 at 2:02 pm

Anon: wow, I wrote of happy, joyful, competent kids who are aware of issues of social justice, can relate to adults, and can navigate the world well and all you pulled out was math? I was trying to point out that Briones can do equally well in the academic areas as well as in the social/emotional spheres. Unfortunately, Briones is all too often judged by it's test scores, API index and other narrow measures.

Seekinginfo very clearly put it when he/she posted to another forum this message: "My family is exploring the Palo Alto public elementary school options. Besides the info. that I have reviewed from I would like more information. Can you provide feedback regarding attendance to Barron Park/Briones versus enrolling in a different Palo Alto Elementary school k-5. Thank you very much." Not even here yet and their opinion is shaped by outside sources. I would love to believe they want to know what makes us so great, but,alas, I think that might not be the case.

Allow me to quote Dr Harold Jones when he was an interim principal at Briones: He was standing outside his office, hands in pockets grandly surveying the playground and smiling this enigmatic little smile. I asked him why the smile and he replied, "Nice little secret you guys have here." "I know," I said, "everybody here knows."

What they know isn't about the math...

Like this comment
Posted by seekinginfo
a resident of another community
on Oct 21, 2006 at 12:50 am

seekinginfo is a registered user.

From Seekinfo:
My question may not have been clear, but I do want to know what makes Briones/Barron a great school(test scores are not everything to us-we just browsed greatschools as a starting point).

I am looking for a neighborhood feel and a neighborhood school that my children can enjoy, make long lasting friendships, and a strong sense of community. We are attracted to the Barron Park neighborhood; therefore, we were looking for positive input regarding Briones/Barron from parents who have children attending either school.

Like this comment
Posted by Briones mom
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 21, 2006 at 1:37 am

Pardon me, I mis-read your post. The best way to visit a school is to come here. If this is difficult, try to contact the principal, get some PTA names and call around. Palo Alto parents are proud of their schools; some parents are involved as PTA members, classroom volunteers or special project coordinators. The great thing about our schools is that they reflect the dedication and caring of all school community members. Each school is different, with its own personality and strengths, but we are as proud of our neighbors' accomplishments as we are of our own. Best of luck in your search!