Albany vs Berkeley middle and high schools?

We have been planning a move to Berkeley but might be priced out and are expanding our search to Albany. Would any parents be willing to chat with me about the differences between the middle and high schools? I have a 5th grade girl that is artistic and musical and a little quirky. Looking for info on arts programming, school cultures in addition to academics and all the other usual stuff. Thanks!!!!

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Not too many people have firsthand experiences with both districts, but I can tell you that I have a student at AMS right now and - keep in mind this is the COVID experience and a "normal" year could be different - I feel like it is very academic-heavy and there's pretty high expectations for homework. We are happy enough with the band program for what it is this year; expecting it to be better in a normal year. (Not sure what type of music your daughter is into.) I also have a fifth grader who is artistic (not musical), quirky, and dreamy, and I don't think they would be particularly happy at AMS - that is, it is not tailored to their flavor of student personality - and I don't plan to send them there. Can't speak firsthand to Berkeley schools being same or different, but we have experience in a different public school district and I wouldn't say that it catered to the artistic dreamers either.

You may be interested in Oakland School for the Arts

I have direct experience with BUSD, but only what I've heard from friends for Albany. Berkeley has many students who care about music and the arts. Also because BHS is so large, most students I know find their people. The academics depend on what your student chooses, plenty of AP and IB options. Middle school is middle school. King wasn't great for our student -- not as personal as elementary school, but not the choice of high school. Generally BHS seems to have more room for quirky kids because there are so many social groups and activities. Also, keep in mind that there are many community activities like Contra Costa Civic Theater and Berkeley Rep for students who like the arts, and often that is a good supplement to whatever goes on in school, and provides an alternative friend group.

If your child is musical, how about The Crowden School in Berkeley? My child is very happy there.