Education decision reflections.. Robyn Part 4 - the finale so far!

Well we got through the major trials and tribulations of all our choices and crossroads in elementary school... until the middle of 5th grade when we had to finalize our choices for Middle School.....

We are lucky to be in Charleston - an area with tons of Middle school options... and cursed by the same fate... so much choice, so little time... and so many changes...

You wouldn't think that middle school makes much difference in the final student product that your child will become.. but with the specializations and choices you make for them in 5th grade, you really do steer their long term path... more so than elementary school in almost every respect...

So- our first indication that we had to make choices and 'apply' to schools came when we were accepted to stay at St Andrews Math and Science for 5th grade, but were told that this acceptance did not guarantee a place in the school that St Andrews feeds into - CE Williams.. so we needed to investigate the procedure to get into CE and to see if we even wanted to... and find out more about the school that we were zoned for - St. Andrews Middle... and then of course the discussion around the kitchen table became well... what else is out there?

I also asked around to friends with kids in middle school, high school and my fellow 5th grader parents... and the consensus became that there was no consensus...

Our options appeared to be:
CE Williams (Math and Science Magnet/ nearest our home)
St Andrews Middle (Our *home* school, busing available)
Charleston Charter School of Math and Science (Downtown, busing available)
West Ashley Middle (Also in district, busing available)
Buist (Long shot)
School of the Arts Magnet (required auditions)
Military magnet (not really a consideration but we could have...)

So, our odyssey continued with our first introduction to the 3 West Ashley schools... at a parents infomation night at West Ashley high school...that we got almost no notice of... So we trekked over there and listened to what they had to say... it was interesting to see the choices we had to make... St Andrews had gender divided programs (pros and cons from both parents and Robyn), West Ashley Middle was art and technology driven but seemed to drift away from the academics that we knew Robyn needed... and CE was still Math & Science but seemed to have reasonable options for the kids...  Robyn felt that we should visit both CE & St Andrews for closer looks, West Ashley was dropped from our radar.  Buist was never really on our radar and so we let this opportunity pass by too... since they really weren't accepting a lot of kids...  Robyn also decided that the audition process for SOA wasn't really where her talents lay... and she wanted to go somewhere else... so that one also came off the list before we did our visits...and Military Magnet wasn't really a consideration for us - too far and not really Robyn's style..

So having narrowed our list to 3 potential schools to see... we took 3 afternoons off and visited all 3 of our 'finalist' schools in action...  and decided that any of the 3 would be good... We filed the paperwork to get into CE's lottery and the Charter School...knowing if we didn't get in to either that St Andrews was a good back up plan... and best off - no application :)

And so the waiting began... In February we got a letter from CE stating that Robyn was in... did she want the space?  Two weeks later we got a letter stating that she was on the wait list for the Charter school downtown... After going for a second visit at CE, it was knocked off the list and St Andrews became our school while we waited patiently for other kids to get their acceptance at SOA and other schools and to not take the coveted place at the Charter...

At the end of March we got a curious letter from a school that had never been on our radar at all... Haut Gap Middle school on Johns Island (the second closest school) was opening up an Academic Studies Magnet program at their school and wanted to invite Robyn to apply... It was only accepting 50 kids .. and they had to have at least a B average in the past 2 years of school... hmmm... sounded good - at least worth the trek down...

still no letter from Charter....

We went to Haut Gap for a parent info session and saw several parents we knew from SASMS elementary..  we found out the pros to going there were special 'capsule classes' that pulled topics out of the regular curriculum and taught them in more detail & that the kids could graduate from middle school with 5.5 HIGH SCHOOL CREDITS!

So, still on the wait list for Robyn's preferred school, I gather yet another round of paperwork and submit them to Haut Gap... and we wait further...

Two days later we got the coveted acceptance into the Charter school which we promptly accepted...

2 weeks after that, we got the acceptance to Haut Gap... back to decisions...

Charter school pros (from both Robyn and us as parents)
- busing
- later start time (9am)
- very open and individualized program
- fairly new and innovative program with a lot of integrated technology
- ability to continue in the school through high school

Charter school cons (from both Robyn and us as parents)
- no honours programs
- no extended gifted enrichment
- no high school credits

Haut Gap pros
- Academic focus
- integrated enrichment and honours
- 5.5 High school credits
- New school building with integrated technology ... eventually
- Closer to home

Haut Gap cons
- 7am start
- no busing
- brand new program
- new building not ready yet

but in the end we picked Haut Gap and have been very happy with our decision so far - Robyn is being challenged and is excited about school and her lessons...

so hopefully we are good for a while... at least til we have to start scoping out high school... wow - high school...