Albany High School

Public School
operated by Albany Unified School District
603 Key Rte Blvd, Albany, CA 94706
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Parent Q&A

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  • My daughter is Afro-Latina with ADHD and a 504 plan.  She currently goes to a very small charter school in Oakland, project based and socio-emotionally focused.  While she is not a high academic performer, she does enjoy learning when material is interesting to her and teachers know their students.  In the past, managing a large school with all the socio-emotional drama that goes with it was challenging to the point of too difficult for her.  However, she is now considering going to a local school for a variety of reasons -- she would like to have 1) friends nearby, 2) more and better after school sports, and 3) (relatively) stronger academics, as she is university bound. We recently moved to Albany, on the border with El Cerrito, so it is easy for her to get to either school on her own.  One of our concerns is that it seems that at both schools, students know each other from elementary/middle school.  Which school would be more welcoming to an incoming 11th grader who does not know anyone? Sense of community is very important to her. The other concern is that I have my doubts that her academic preparation to date is on par with these other schools.  In the past, with support, she has been able to catch up academically, but then has gotten derailed by socio-emotional issues vs academic difficulties.  I have reviewed past reviews on these schools.  Thank you!

    I have a daughter who was at an independent school in Berkeley and just started at ECHS in 9th grade.  So far so good!  Lots of the kids do know each other already but my kid has been able to make friends and had a great start with the good natured cross country team and band.  She knew a few people from club soccer and from El Cerrito Rec Department classes and camps over the years which helped too.  I have a sense that ECHS would be welcoming to your 11th grader - particularly with sports connections like cross country.  I don't have any direct experience with Albany but hope it would be similar! Best of luck to you and your daughter no matter which school she lands in.  One idea would be to try to join up with some of the summer training programs for fall sports.  I don't know what might happen with cross country but it could be a way to meet kids before classes get underway. 

    UPDATE -- (original poster here) We are now considering having her change schools mid-year 10th grade, to start this coming January.  In case that changes any of your insights.  Thank you!

    Albany mom here. Yes, some kids have known each other since kindergarten. There are plenty of new kids every year though because of the UC Village student population. 

    I think a mid year change might be harder than waiting til August. If she waits til August she may make neighborhood friends this summer.  Sports, music, dance, theater all help, too. 

    Random idea to consider: what about staying at the same school but taking a classe at a community college?  This could start immediately. Should be something she’s really interested in and is not available at her current school. A way to explore more challenging classes without giving up everything you enjoy about her current school. 

    This is tough, but if your daughter is motivated enough to consider a midyear change, I'm assuming the current situation is not good. ECHS is very big, in the 2000 student range. Albany is around 1200. AHS doesn't field teams in every sport, but of course it only matters if they have the one(s) your child is interested in! I have a student at Albany and we have friends at EC. I think Albany is pretty hard to break into socially, unfortunately. I can't say about EC. The Albany math program uses a certain curriculum (CPM - College Prep Math) which I think would probably be close to impossible to pick up midway through high school (I don't know what they use at EC.) That said, other than math, our experience has been pretty easy academics at AHS, contrary to reputation, and teachers who are pretty engaged. AHS has open campus and ECHS has closed campus. Good luck to your daughter!

    Not Albany High, imo. My daughter entered as a 9th grader from out of district and was lonely and miserable all four years. By the time she graduated she had a total of 1 friend. Very cliquey and kids can be extremely competitive with one another to the point of being toxic. My daughter also experienced bullying and not really given any resources to manage it. Based on our experience, I can not recommend it for a student coming in without a support/friend system already in place. 

    I had two kids on 504s at Albany High.  Many teachers ignored them completely and were resistant to some accommodations when pressed.  We were in the district since kindergarten, but my kids still found the social landscape to be inpenetrable at best, hostile at worst.  The parent community is very cliquish as well.  We had parents we had known since kindergarten days walk right by us at graduation.

    AHS (and AMS to some degree) are great if your kid excels academically  and/or athletically.  The arts curriculum was gutted in favor of AP classes.  Budget is available for a personal trainer for the football team, but not sufficient special education support.  Your current school sounds lovely.  As another commenter said, supplementing college classes might be a great solution.

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  • We live in Albany and have a middle school daughter (at Black Pine Circle) who is very into Robotics, Makers Club, STEM, and Art.  Berkeley high school has a stellar robotics team and double the resources of Albany high when it comes to those areas and she wants to go to high school at Berkeley.  I have heard kids turned down for transferring out of Albany, even if Berkeley is OK with the transfer.  I would love to talk to someone and hear about advice about how to do a successful transfer, including what things to go for that Albany does not have, but Berkeley does have.  Open to thoughts/comments about our thinking too.Thanks

    You know, the Albany USD registrar is pretty helpful when it comes to transferring in; I feel like you could try reaching out for guidance on transferring OUT and get some info - after all, you are still a taxpayer! That said, the AHS course catalog is online so you can see what is offered there (to contrast to BHS) [I believe there is a clubs list too - no robotics that I am aware of, but multiple science subject clubs and art club for sure]. You and your daughter could also sign up for one of the new student tours on the first Monday of the month (pre-registration required) just to do your due diligence on AHS and make sure you and she are making the right choice for her. Just FYI my 8th grade daughter is also desperate to get a transfer into BHS from her private middle school - does BHS send recruiters or something?! LOL.

  • Hello AHS Parents,

    I have a daughter with ADHD and social anxiety. We live in El Cerrito and we are considering moving to Albany this coming summer 2023 just for the high school. We are also looking into some private schools but we don't know if she will be accepted.

    From reading old posts it seems AHS is a mostly an academic focused school. I am thinking my daughter will probably just take the "normal" classes in AHS, not many AP or honor classes due to her ADHD. Currently, at her public middle school, my daughter is an all A student. However, other than math, I feel she is not really learning that much.

    Can any parent in AHS let me know their experience there with kids that are "different". Are all classes engaging? Or do you need to be in an AP class to be engaged? Are teachers engaging/caring with all students or do they only engage with top of the class students? Is the student body receptive to new students out of the district?

    Also, my daughter, despite her ADHD condition, has never qualified for IEP or 504 plans due to her good grades. She is taking her classes the same way as everyone else since elementary school.

    Thank you very much in advance for any advice.

    I have a current 9th grader at AHS with a 504 for ADHD/anxiety. It's fine. The curriculum is not challenging (aqlthough a motivated student could figure out how to go above and beyond, but that's not my child). That might change in upper grades and when AP classes are available. I don't think it is a super welcoming environment for students new to the district, since Albany is a small town and many of the kids have been together since kindergarten or 6th grade, or know each other from club sports. Based on what you describe of your daughter, I wouldn't say it's an obvious perfect fit, but every child is different and everyone's ADHD might be a little different. Definitely no need to move to Albany to attend AHS, they are handing out transfer permits pretty easily if you can get released from your home district.

    The parent advocates at DREDF are very helpful. In my experience as a parent and teacher even high achieving students with a specific LD are eligible for 504 plans. In a competitive high school like Albany or BHS, the accommodations are often necessary even for a student who was successful prior to high school. 

  • We are looking into transferring from Berkeley to Albany for high school.  He will be taking the placement exams for math and world language. How does timing work for the placement exams with regards to being released, accepted, etc.?  Albany does not notify you until the summer, so he will not be able to take Albany's placement exam.  If he gets released from Berkeley, I'm guessing Berkeley will not allow him to take the placement exams.  Albany enrollment starts March 1.  Is it better to get released sooner rather than later?

    Anyone who has gone through this process?

    It sounds like your son is currently in 8th grade? You can take placement tests for Albany High in August, the week before school starts. I would apply for the transfer now/ASAP and worry about placement later. FYI there are only two choices for math classes in 9th grade at AHS and if your child hasn't been at AHS for math I would suggest just going with Math 1, ie., no need to take the math placement exam. (There is a path within Math 1 to prepare for Math 2+ as a soph) Yes to the language placement if you're wanting Language 2 instead of Language 1. Although my understanding is plenty of frosh take Language 1 again to ensure a high grade. The point being, don't stress about it!

  • Hello! My daughter attends Albany High and, like everyone else around here, we've been in remote learning since March. Although it got off to a rocky start, I have generally been pleased with with the amount and level of instruction since the fall and my daughter had been doing quite well with things until recently. Since around December, we have noticed a substantial increase in homework, At first, we attributed this to the normal end of semester rush to finish first semester topics, but since returning in January and even now after semester finals, it has only gotten worse. A lot worse. I can't remember the last time my daughter has gotten more than 6 hours of sleep because she is being overloaded with homework (Note: she is in all "regular" classes - no honors or APs for which one might expect a more substantial workload). She is getting burned out quickly, to the point where, although she had adapted to the online platform, she is getting ready to "check out" of he classes entirely. It is not an issue with the difficulty of her classes - she understands and keeps up easily with the material. It is just too much homework. I am particularly frustrated because one of her teachers even explicitly said, "I have to keep you kids busy" while assigning work. Aside from the fact that it is not a teacher's job "to keep kids busy," as I said, it's gotten to the point that she is regularly up way after midnight doing work and it is taking a very bad toll on her, mentally and physically. 

    Has anyone else noticed this tendency to overcompensate for remote learning by assigning additional (or, in our case, excessive) homework? If so, how are you dealing with it? We are at about our breaking point, unfortunately, and it's not even February. Would love to hear from others about their experiences. 

    YES, absolutely seeing this for my poor 7th grader at Albany Middle School. The district has chosen to fill the required state hours of school with "asynchronous learning" - the teachers just assign a ton of material with no understanding of how long it will take, and at least my child's teachers NEVER say, stop after one hour. I think Albany is not doing great with remote learning, tbh. Overemphasis on quantity not quality.

    YES! I have two high schoolers at BHS and they are feeling this. I think it's even worse because it ALL feels like homework. With in-person learning, they might spend an hour or two at home doing work, now they are sitting on that bed/desk staring at that computer for hours as class time and homework time merge together.  No advice, just commiseration.

    Most students are struggling with Virtual Learning,   It could be difficulty  understanding the academic material, challenges with screen learning to missing the in class interaction with teachers and peers for support.   My son is completely disengage from school and is very hard for me to watch him fail.  We have done everything in our powers to provide help, support, meetings with teachers.  

    Those students doing well are not doing so well - However these students have found a way to cope with distance learning and have learn the task of using wikipedia and google to complete their task - yes they also engage in class interaction with is important.  I will pay attention  no other issues are affecting her grades and participation in school.

    We  are experiencing hard times and for students returning to in classroom learning will be the ultimate goal for academic success. 

    My child is not yet in high school, so I'm not seeing this at home, but I do teach at the university level and have seen some similar things, both within my own classroom and as reported by my students about other people's classrooms. I'd like to suggest that it's probably more complex than teachers simply piling on more homework. Some may in fact be doing this, but I think it’s also a byproduct of the move to online instruction. In a face-to-face teaching environment, there’s room for a lot of activities happen in the classroom moment. Without that, teachers find themselves forced to move it into activities that become homework, and both teachers and students radically underestimate the amount of time it take to do these things. For example, classroom discussions are extremely difficult to do well via Zoom, so instructors often move them into online discussion forums. Students are regularly required to participate, as syllabi often have a minimum number and quality of posts. This takes time, often way more than it should. In a face-to-face teaching environment, instructors can often assess learning directly and they know that the sheer necessity of coming to class every day can be enough to keep students on track with their studying and reading. Without it, they feel compelled to use multiple assignments to help students keep up and stay on track, and to give themselves something to take the place of the on the spot assessment that happens in the regular classroom. Long story short, I don’t think you’re necessarily wrong but I would suggest that the issue is probably more complicated than it seems. You might find this article informative, as it directly addresses this issue. It’s aimed at university level instruction, but I think at least some of it applies to high school students and instructors:

  • Albany High School, a highly rated public high school in Albany California, is accepting 30 inter-district transfers for next year and beyond.  We are excited about having more wonderful students to teach. Please help us spread the word:  twenty openings in next year's 9th grade and ten openings in next year's 11th grade.  Prospective parents can follow this link to understand the process. Yours, Albany Teachers Association…

    No responses received.

  • Hello parents of Albany HS graduates or current parents of juniors and seniors! Would love to hear your opinion of the EDSET (Environmental Design, Society, English and Technology) program at Albany High. Did your kid enjoy the cohort model? Did they feel restricted by not being able to take other classes, especially after having completed the first year? How did they enjoy their internship experience, and do you feel being in the program had any bearing (positive or negative) on college admissions? Thanks in advance for your candor and insights! Sophomore mom.

    My daughter is currently a junior at AHS and in EDSET. She is enjoying it, but as a parent I have to say that the school offers very little help in finding an appropriate internship. There can also be potential scheduling issues, since the kids have to take AP environmental science during a particular period. This made it impossible for my daughter to continue in choir (where she'd been since grade school and really loves it, as well as all her friends in choir.) We've meet with several college counselors, and when we told them of EDSET only one was not too keen on it. She happens to be the one that advises many Albany kids. Even so, I still think it's a good thing IF the kid is in a compelling *job* and not just using this as an easy day off school. Keep in mind that if your child decides to do EDSET and is accepted, you'll need to figure out transportation if s/he isn't driving or it's not public transport friendly. The Friday internship days are 4 hours. Feel free to contact me if you have any other questions.

  • Hello,

    I am a single parent with a teenager at Albany High School (AHS) who has a special education plan. I have had a world of problems interacting with the counselors and the administration at AHS. I feel like they are constantly withholding information from me--everything from programs and classes my child is eligible for, to school policies. It is like pulling teeth to get them to offer information. 

    Has anyone else had this issue with AHS before? Either in regards to 504/IEP plans, or just in general?

     I could have wrote this post years ago. I thought the same way as my son was going through high school; he had an IEP his entire school career. In the schools defense often times teachers are not aware of the programs and services that are available for students. Depending on what track your son is on ( graduation versus certificate of completion )  they may just focus on the programs and services that are going to benefit him the most in achieving his goals and academic requirements. I would highly encourage you to attend the Adult Transition Fair that is held yearly in the spring. It will help you get a greater perspective of what is out there and make informed decisions on your sons individual  transition plan.  Are you a client of the Regional Center of the East Bay? If so I would encourage you to have your case manager attend every IEP meeting going forward. 

     Having a clear idea of your  sons hopes and dreams for his future is the most important thing. My son just graduated from Alameda High School this month and there are many things I wish I would have done differently in regards to IEP goals in high school to set him up for success in the future. 

    Good luck! It sounds like you are an awesome Mom and advocate for your child!!

    You might consider/attempt a transfer to Berkeley High School. Their Special Education Department is responsive, compassionate, professional and very intelligent. What an awesome staff! 

     I feel your pain. This has been a constant battle for me also since elementary school and we are doing the same battle in Albany Middle School. They are definitely not forthcoming with the information of what's available but what I found helpful is some groups on Facebook. Many of these people have gone through or are going through the same Issues  and I find they are quite helpful . 

    One of the groups that is local is called decoding dyslexia CA. When she start searching you can find many other groups.

    I would definitely like to stay in touch if possible as we will be heading up to high school in another year. 

     The Best of luck 

    I have a difficult child who has been defiant at school.  I feel AMS, the teachers,  and especially the VP David Haupert have been very compassionate in response to my son's issues.  They are very reluctant to suspend and prefer to work with the child and parents to resolve things and keep the child in school.  My son has attended their for two years and has received great support from the staff.  I have been shocked that they didn't suspend him a few of the times.  Toward the end of this school year my son was repeatedly disrespectful and defiant and he was suspended which I felt he deserved.  IT'S IMPORTANT TO REALIZE that the school is dealing with many children who are interested in learning and being at school and those children have a right to their education also and you can't expect the school staff  to continue to put up with disrespect and defiance.  It's disruptive for all the other children.  My child is in counseling.  I hope you seek counseling for your child and stop blaming the school for your child's behavior.  It's not productive for the school but especially not for  your child.

  • Hello,

    We currently have a son in Albany Middle School. We have enjoyed watching him grow in the AUSD system and assumed he would continue on to Albany High School.

    Since the recent events at Albany High School involving racist posts I've found that the district has become much more punitive. Kids are getting suspensions for small offenses that in the past I think would have been met with some compassion. At Albany Middle School the administration seems to be on a kind of which hunt with a strange message of both supporting the kids and then interpreting the Behavior Matrix in a very strict way. Chatting with friends, kids are receiving 2nd and 3rd offense punishments for much much milder infractions. Parents seem to have little control. (Parents are only contacted after discipline has been given... so kids are getting suspended before parents know.) 

    We're rethinking our choice to stay in Albany. We have the opportunity to move in September and would like to take this into consideration.

    El Cerrito, Berkeley and Oakland families, I wonder if you could speak a bit about discipline at your high school? If your child has been though the discipline process, what was it like? Do you feel the system is set up in a fair way? If your child has been a victim of other's ill conceived behaviors what has the support for them been like?

    Thanks so much for your thoughts and ideas. 

    -Feels like I'm in a tinder box.

     If you want true facts on suspensions rather than hearsay, you can file a Freedom of Information Act with your school district and receive information on the number and type of suspensions by grade and have them identify the race of those that are suspended.   Ask them to calculate percents to total. Ask for this one year before the incident and then the incident to present.  What you are really looking for is the catch-all "Willful Defiance" category, which is everything from disobeying authority to texting during class.  Many feel this is category of suspension that can be applied unevenly and in a discriminatory fashion.   Perhaps just filing this FOIA will put the pressure on the school district to have them rethink what is going on.  You could suggest restorative justice techniques to combat.

    Here in the WCCUSD, we've made great strides in suspensions, but still, our highest categories African-Americans and Special Ed students.  This is unacceptable and we all know it. I'm pretty sure our reasons for using it are different from yours, but still, every suspension deprives a child of a chance to learn, and in may cases cements a pipeline to prison.  Our Board is now actively discussing a ban on "Willful Defiance" suspensions.  There's a lot to it... it isn't easy, but I'm hopeful we'll get there. 

    I've been pretty happy with the schools here in El Cerrito. We have some of the most diverse schools in the whole USA right here.  In a time when the world is crying for better understandings of others, I couldn't think of a better training ground for my own children.  Come on over!  We'd love to have you! 

    I am the parent of a senior at El Cerrito. I must say that I have no idea how discipline is handled, that is an interesting question and I look forward to others' responses. As far as I know neither she nor anyone she knows has been disciplined, either in middle school or high school, or been a victim. (Lol, I guess come to El Cerrito because everyone is perfectly well behaved!)

    I have a child at Albany Middle School and one at Albany High School. My kids haven't been involved in much discipline, so I only have general information. The incidents earlier this spring in social media and in the hallways have definitely had an effect on the schools, although the incidents involved small numbers of students and were not representative of the school's general atmosphere (in my opinion). I do think that both schools are enforcing their policies against bullying more vigorously. My impression is the opposite of a tinder box, it's more like the schools are walking their talk. You mentioned a "strange message of both supporting the kids and interpreting the Behavior Matrix in a strict way". I think that a great deal of attention is being paid to counseling, talking, and learning about race, gender, and inclusion issues, while enforcing a zero tolerance policy on bullying. 

    The punitive discipline system used at AMS and AHS is one of the reasons that we moved our son to private school after his freshman year at AHS.  (We are definitely not sorry to have missed this year's major racist incidents!)  We have a child at AMS as well, and so far we're hanging on there for her.  Among other reasons, moving to a different city isn't practical for us, so we'll certainly continue to lobby the school board to eliminate suspension as a punishment for "willful defiance."  In our experience, this is never related to bullying incidents, but instead is a result of teachers who haven't earned their students' respect and aren't competent to address any kind of "misbehavior" in class.  And indeed, we as parents never find out about recurring problems until long past the time we could help address them effectively.  

    I have read that at least some schools in Oakland have implemented disciplinary systems based on restorative justice and actual TEACHING instead of on outdated and ineffective "behavior matrix" and punitive systems.  But honestly, I think school systems everywhere have a long way to go with this.

  • My family of four is moving this summer from NY (Hastings on Hudson / Westchester) to the Bay Area because I have a new job in SF. I have a 16 year old and a 14 year old.  I have many friends and family in Berkeley, so was thinking East Bay. We want to rent for at least a year. I've been talking to one person in Albany about her house.  Any input on Albany versus other towns?  Any input on Albany High? And my 14 year old son is looking at the small private high school, Maybeck.  I would so appreciate input and advice.  Thanks!

    I would recommend Albany or El Cerrito high schools for students new to the area because the towns and schools are smaller and easier to navigate. Both Albany and El Cerrito are near Bart/bus so it will be easy to commute to San Francisco.

    Your 14-year-old should give the public high school a try, I think the commute by Bart and bus to Maybeck from Albany/El Cerrito will get to be a drag, and both Albany and El Cerrito are very walkable.

    Berkeley High or Oakland Tech are fine but might be overwhelming to students who don't know anyone or the area or have friends already at the school.

    Hi There,

    Maybeck and AHS are really really different. Friends have loved both. Additionally, for private schools also look at College Prep and St. Mary's. Many friends have sent kids there and been really happy.

    Albany High School (as all of AUSD) is very very focused on academic achievement and test score. For a CA public school it is well resourced with several local foundations that help support Art, Music and additional programs. The school is a great fit for some kids, but not such a great fit for others. Albany is a wonderful community to live in. It's walkable, close to BART, safe.. etc.

    And with all that, I would like to bring attention to current conflict at AHS regarding recent two racist incidents at AHS. In the first incident, a group of 9th grade boys were giving each other nazi salutes for several months before anything was done.  In the second incident very racist images and words were posted along with photos of African American students on Instagram.

    Have look at the videos from recent AUSD school board meetings to get a sense of the climate.

    Good luck with your move.

    An Albany Mom

    Yes I have lots of thoughts for you- best to email me directly at gretchen_davidson [at]

    I have had kids in both Albany and Berkeley schools as well as input on local private schools.

    My son is at Maybeck, and it's a wonderful small school with a welcoming environment and lots of personal attention. The school has some of the best teaches I've ever come across. Two are Oxford grads, and another has a PhD from Cal. For the most part teachers do not assign busy work. Maybeck has a flat organizational structure, which has its pros and cons. Your tuition dollars are not going toward an over paid administrative layer, but there's not always someone who can make a quick decision. Overall it's a great school for the right type of student, and my son is thriving. Perhaps you should consider trying out public school for freshman year, and then if you are unhappy, transfer to Maybeck as a sophomore. 

  • Hello!

    I am a parent of a teenager and a student at UC Berkeley. I unfortunately have been assigned a mandatory class that begins at 8:25am W-F and I am looking to share a carpool with someone, either to take kids to the high school or fellow Berkeley parents who drive to campus. The high school bell is at 8:10am. I can help pay to offset the cost of parking. 


    Hi. I see unfortunately no responses! The Albany culture is to walk, everywhere, that anywhere inside the city limits is walkable. Perhaps when school starts your teen will find classmates from that side of the city to walk with.

    University Village is less than a mile from AHS. Most high school students walk to and from school. Driving isn't necessary as Albany is safe and walkable. Getting to the UC Campus may be harder, but you could bike or bus. 

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We also have an artistic middle schooler. FWIW, when we asked about OSA for them, the high school counselor at their middle school felt like OSA is very competitive for non-Oakland residents, and the applicant would have to have a very strong portfolio showing artistic growth over the middle school years. ie., be a committed artist, probably in a specific discipline, not just generally creative and "artsy". So not a fit for our child who is not an Oakland resident.

I went to the end of the year student art show at Albany High in spring 2023 and was very impressed with the talent and range of media on display. You can look at AHS' course catalog online to see the class offerings; plus there's also student clubs. I don't mean to imply that it is the only high school with this strength, just that I saw it for myself at the show.

Hello:   my child attended Albany High School and took all of her math classes at Tilden.  The math program at AHS is pretty accelerated and she definitely would have struggled considerably, even in the regular classes (there seemed to always be 2 tracks).  I can't remember how we put it all into place, but she also had an IEP for her dyscalculia and the anxiety it caused.   AHS accepted the class for credit and there were no issues at all.  Her experience at Tilden was very positive, and the only drawback it it's expensive.  She was able to do 4 years of math at Tilden (at a very slow pace), which allowed her to apply to UCs.  Happy to talk to you off line!

I've had kids at both AHS and St. Mary's. I think it depends on your kid but for us, St. Mary's was a much better, more supportive, more engaging school. Albany High is great for kids who are internally motivated and don't need lots of individual attention. It's not great for kids who are super bright but not motivated - my child definitely was not seen and had a pretty bad experience at AHS. The school culture is improving but wasn't great when we were there (graduated 3 years ago). My child came in to Albany as a 9th grader and had a really hard time making friend and breaking into the social scene (despite being pretty social in elementary & middle school). St. Mary's was a great experience for my other child, in terms of social-emotional, school spirit, engaging teachers.  However, it was not that academically challenging. That didn't bother us, though, as our child is very internally motivated and did great. We are not religious at all (atheists) and had no issues with the Catholicism. Good luck!

ISO Public high school (Dec 10, 2020)

Just a note about a previous reply: the Albany High Instagram incident happened during the 2016-17 school year, not two years ago.  This means no one who attended AHS during that time will still be a student there in 2021-22. The freshmen from that time graduated last spring. These involved were mostly juniors, I believe, so they finished HS several years ago.  I don’t think it’s really representative of the current school climate. But it can be kind of a rat race academically, that’s true.  

I have a sophomore at Albany High School and their experience has been awful. There is no school or even department level standards. Each teacher can individually decide if they want to do remote instruction or just send an email each week with reading and problem assignments. Some students in Albany are lucky in that most of their teachers are actually teaching. We have not been so lucky. It's pretty difficult to learn Math and Chemistry with absolutely no instruction, but that is what my kid is dealing with, and the administration throws up it's hands and offers zero help. We are looking at Tilden Prep for Fall.


I can’t review OSA, but I know my daughter did not pursue it because some of the academics were too limited (e.g., no French beyond level 3, more limited advanced math and science, etc.).  If OSA does not work out, Albany High has a truly excellent choir program, especially if your daughter can audition into one of the more advanced choirs.  The teacher is phenomenal.  She has very high standards but is also universally adored by the kids. AHS frequently does very well at competitions, and the older kids who really love it and excel in it are sometimes in two elective choir classes plus an after school choir, so it can be very intensive.  And AHS is actively pursuing out-of-district transfers right now.  

Archived Q&A and Reviews


June 2013

Re: Moving from private school: ECHS or try for Albany transfer? 
My boys are at AHS and it has been pretty good. It is very academically focused. Maybe too much so at times. Academics are super-important, but they aren't everything! I have heard getting an inter-district transfer is very hard to do right now so I don't think it's something I would plan on in your shoes. You can start the process, just know it might not happened. We actually moved to Albany because our transfer didn't go through (many years ago now). Good luck! ECHS is great too! AHS mom

Dear Worried parent trying to decide between ECH or Albany high. I'd absolutely recommend Albany over ECH, i know cause my 20 year old kid went to EC, and even though she graduated with good grades, she felt that it was a almost complete waste of time being there. Another reason why she hated going to EC is because there were so many kids enrolled from out of district, many of them being trouble makers, that it was hard sometimes being in school, but that's just my opinion. MR

FYI, trying to get an interdistrict transfer from W. Contra Costa to Albany High is very difficult, e.g. it is highly unlikely that you will get it. Go ahead and try but don't count on it. former BHS parent

Background so you can put my comments in context: I have been tutoring kids math and physics at AHS, ECHS, BHS and other high schools for many years. Both my daughters graduated from ECHS and then attended UCLA and Brown. The majority of my students year after year are from AHS.

First a general statement; both high shcools can provide at least as good or a better education than many private schools, so you should have no qualms in that regard. I feel both schools offer better math and physics programs than many private schools which often leave significant gaps because they are not required to follow state guidelines. I've not been overly impressed with private schools academically.

No doubt Albany high is the better school academically which means it is also more rigorous and competitive and so harder to get good grades. El Cerrito is more of a mixed school. But for the good kids who want to apply themselves, it also offers a good education with the added advantage that it is less competitive and so easier to get good grades. Also, fewer students are applying to the choice schools and so they seem to get better results than AHS. Both schools have almost new school buildings and both are on the smaller side for Bay Area high schools which I see as an advantage. I would prefer ECHS over Albany because it is ''realer'', meaning there's a more real world mix of kids both racially and socio-economically. Education is more than just books. Your daughter may have an easier time finding friends in the more diverse ECHS culture than the lily white/asian uppper middle class hyperacademic AHS. That statement was intentionally un-pc and also accurate.

However, you can't just go to AHS because you want to. You must live in Albany or have a very good way of making believe you live there. They are such a small town and school and there are so so so many parents trying to get there kids in there, that the district actually checks and makes house visits to ensure that the student actually lives in Albany. Probably the only school district in miles that does this. Transfers from other schools districts are not allowed, period. Many of my students live elsewhere but use the address of a relative in Albany and keep a room there as if they live there. Short of that you will probably not get your student in, because ECHS and AHS are not only in different districts (very different), and different towns, they are in different COUNTIES.

In closing, if you live in the WCCUSD your child will have to go to public school there and you should check to see which high school that will be, meaning you are not guaranteed ECHS unless you live near there. In the past the WCCUSD had a stated policy of giving preference to minorities to transfer to ECHS if they lived closer to other (far less desirable high schools). So unless you live near ECHS, you may be facing greater challenges than you thought. But, the WCCUSD is far less on top of things than Albany and so it is easier to game the system. Email me directly if you want to talk more. Sean

As others have stated, you are not likely to get a transfer to Albany High unless you live in Albany. If El Cerrito is your area school, embrace it and help your child find the best at ECHS. I had 2 children attend ECHS, so was involved in the school for 8 years straight. I will tell you that yes there is a mix, the ''interdistrict'' transfers you mentioned were mostly kids from other areas within the district who used relatives addresses to attend ECHS rather than Kennedy or Richmond Highs. And I know many of the people on this list have done the same for their children - used an address to get their child into a better school. That being said - El Cerrito is a very diverse school - ethnically, racially, economically and academically. If your child is a good student then they will get a great education. There is actually a wider range of classes, sports and AP classes available at ECHS than Albany because it is a bigger school. My children did sports and achieved academically. Their peers went to Ivy's, UC's, CSU's and some went to community colleges. One year, ECHS had more graduates attend Ivy's than my friend's children'sschool in Orinda!

Yes there are problems, but Albany has had its share of issues as well. They have had fights, alcohol problems, its share of issues as well. Even the schools over the hills have their issues. The more involved you are at the school, the better the experience will be for all. ECHS parent alum

Albany High vs private schools

Dec 2012

I have a son in the Albany school system and for the most part it has been perfectly fine for him. I've been going on auto pilot assuming we'll just send him to AHS for high school, however, after talking with a friend who recently looked at it as a possibility for her son who would be entering after going to various local private schools, I am now not so sure. What she described were very low level English and Spanish 2 classes. They saw an advanced math class and an AP Physics class that were better, but those were classes for Juniors. Hard to compare of course, after visiting private schools where they have a whole science wing and in which their class project is building a rocket. I know the Albany schools are considered good, but is that only because the kids test well and there isn't a lot of trouble? Do freshmen get to take AP classes? Are there strategies for helping students navigate the system to not get stuck in unchallenging classes? I know I shouldn't worry...

The Albany schools are good because they have teachers and parents who care, and in general, everyone does well.

We have also however, ended up with a child who did not go to Albany High School but a private school because we found Albany does not have enough for bright children and in fact some administrators (not all) can be hostile to children who want advanced work. I think it is worth looking into private school to have as an option. There is also supplementing with classes from places like Tilden Prep. It's definitely worth researching what freshmen can do for advanced classes. I believe other than math, they can take a test and get into a more advanced language class, but there's nothing to be done about the other classes.

Personally, I don't understand why. They have to have multiple science, English, foreign language sections -- why not tailor all of them to a student's interest and level?

But maybe it's changed -- it's worth researching. And the more parents who ask, the more they know it's important to some parents. Albany parent

Nervous homeschooler needs info. about AHS

Aug 2012

My son will be high school age a year from now and he is considering high school. We can't afford private school, so I am looking into Albany High. As a homeschooler I have prepared my son for the world in theory, but not in practice. In other words, he has not been exposed to age-inappropriate sexual behavior and drugs and I myself am concerned about the potential violence by guns, etc. How much of the aforementioned is happening at Albany High? My second concern is the fact that they expect teen-agers to start classes at 7:40 AM. Research has shown that this is not the optimum time for teen-agers to be learning, so I find the AHS bell schedule completely illogical, but I understand that it facilitates parents being able to get to work. My second question is how do your teens handle these early hours; do they adjust somehow? My last question is about the baseball and volleyball programs for boys. What do people think of these two programs at AHS? Thanks in advance for your comments and feedback. Albany homeschool mom

As the Albany parent of a new 9th grader, I don't think you need to worry too much about violence, and esp. weapons. You should check the AHS-related articles at Albany Patch (, which will include a lawsuit over a grade by a now-former chemistry teacher, and an assault (by a 9th-grade girl, on a 12th-grade girl, with fists) at the end of the year that led to several suspensions. But the latter seems to have been rather anomalous.

My experience with AMS was that the former elementary kids heard a *lot* of language when they hit middle school... middle school seems to be when they're hearing other kids, hearing of some doing pot, etc., and I wish there'd been a few more adults to percolate among the kids to better manage those hormonally-charged years. But by high school, I would think a kid with a solid sense of right and wrong won't be too bothered. Albany Parent

As a parent, I also had an issue with the early morning start time and actually spoke with both the principal and vice principal at Albany Middle School with statistics to back up my concerns. Deaf ears. I remember bringing this up with the admin. at AHS, same response. It also seems that there weren't that many parents willing to actually support this, though they complained to each other. C'est la vie. We made it through, graduating this year. My daughter adapted and ended up being tired for her whole time in secondary school. Seems that's how most parents to whom I spoke described their child as well. Tired most of the time. No gun violence that I ever heard of and I kept pretty close tabs on what was going on there. anon

Hi, I just graduated from Albany High School, and I think it would be a good choice. There was no gun violence while I was there, and I have never heard of there being any. There will always be age-inappropriate sexual behavior and drugs where teenagers are concerned, but in my experience it is not a problem at the school itself, and it is incredibly easy to avoid. I, personally, have never engaged in drinking, drugs, or such sexual behavior, and I never felt pressured to. The trick, I believe, is to choose your peers wisely and never remain in an atmosphere you aren't comfortable in. The fact that AHS has an ''open campus'' policy during breaks and lunch makes it very easy to stay away from what you aren't comfortable with and stick to what you are. I think your son won't have a problem staying away from that stuff.

About the early mornings: They suck. You get used to them very fast, but it still isn't fun. My recommendation is to drink caffeinated tea on the way to school. Another route would be to not take a first period. AHS has a seven-period day, but only six are required (five senior year), and your son could work with his counselor to try to arrange a free first period. This will allow him to get to school at 7:40 only on Wed/Fri, 8:37 on Mon, and 9:20 on Tues/Thurs. And always go to bed at a reasonable time! I never did, and I can't recommend that lifestyle.

Our baseball team is not one of our teams known to be really amazing, but it is not known to suck, either. We win some, and we lose some. If your son likes baseball, he should definitely try out. Sadly, we don't have a volleyball program for boys, but during Homecoming Week every year there is a boys' volleyball tournament (as well as girls' football), and participation in that earns you popularity, not notoriety. It's a really fun time, and if your son participates, his whole class will be supporting him. We also have Intramural sports, which I believe are all co-ed, and I'm sure volleyball is one of them. I obviously don't know your son, so I couldn't say for sure whether AHS would be a good fit for him, but I think it's a really great school and I definitely recommend it. Hope this helps! Recent AHS Graduate (girl)

I read your post to my teenaged son (entering senior year at AHS) and he said that it sounds like your son might be in for a rude awakening. If he has not been around teenagers much it will be a big change-and that would be the case for any school he attends (public or private.) That being said-it sounds to me like you have been trying to protect him from what I see is the real world. We may or may not like it but this is our world. So if you want your son to do well I would suggest you couch your nervousness and get on board with the public school system. Yes the kids have to get up early and attend school when their bodies might want to stay in bed. I could say the same thing for my 46 yr old body. I don't want to get up and go to work at 7am but yet I do. I could go on and on but I really hope that you start thinking about how you are going to prepare your child to thrive and be independent in today's world. It is not always a pretty world or an easy one but it is ours. good luck...

p.s. albany has a great community of families. The teachers and staff at AHS are really wonderful. anon

Hi - I am an Albany High parent. Marijuana and alcohol are easily available, and used commonly by Albany students. I know one or two kids who have had issues with prescription pain medications, I'm not sure how common that is. That is not different than Berkeley High or other area schools. A lot of the teens are sexually active, at least by junior or senior year if not earlier. I have never heard of a gun incident at Albany High. There was one lockdown about a year ago. The parent of a ''disgruntled'' former student reported a gun and his son missing and there was concern about him coming to school, but he never appeared on campus. Mostly an overreaction by the administration. There are occasional fights, but no shots fired as you hear about at Berkeley High.

Albany is also a small community and lot of the students have known each other since they were in kindergarden. If your son has friends in Albany, that might not be a problem. The baseball team is very good, and a lot of the players have been on Albany Little Leage teams together for years. The wrestling team is also very good. Girls' volleyball is excellent, I'm not sure there is a boys' team.

The early schedule is ridiculous, you are right. If your student is taking 5 or 6 classes they can try and avoid having a first period class, and start second period. Albany tends to get in ruts, is somewhat parochial and does not change with the times. I think this schedule is largely to keep the teachers happy and is negotiated with the teachers' union, but sucks for the kids.

The school also tends to cater to the highest performing kids, to the detriment of the average students. There are fourth year foreign language classes with a handful of kids, but not enough resources to help kids who may be struggling a little. Right now they are cutting sections of electives because of budget issues, which will make it even harder for kids with interests in arts or other non-academic fields. That is probably also true of a lot of other public schools. It is a good school for academically oriented, studious kids who are well-organized. Some of the teachers require homework to be submitted in very specific formats that feel more like busywork than learning. That might be very different than your son's homeschooling experience. Hope that helps. Albany mom

Are you nervous or is your child? The world may 'sound' scary from the media, but honestly, it's not that scary! I was really worried about the same things, moving from a small private school to a public school, and looking back I am embarrassed at how I behaved and how i perceived those situations, even though i did my best to 'hide it'/ Being encouraging and supportive, trusting that your child knows how to handle him or herself, teaching them coping skills, and using heightened situational awareness to sense when danger is near, and communicating that you know and trust that your child will be able to handle anything that comes their way is a far better strategy than hand-wringing and worrying about all the dangers -- and communicating your worry (and you are, even if you think you aren't, i know b/c i did it!!!). In every single HS there are drugs, gang members, fights, sex, disruption, misconduct and disrespectful communication. there are also awesome clubs, sweet, ambitious people, artists, athletes, scientists and socially awkward people and lots of other super positive experiences. Visit the school, and allow your kid to jump in and swim!.

Dec 2011

Re: Affordable private school for struggling teen 
I also have a 9th grader at AHS whose grades have plummeted this year. 9th grade is hard. AHS is a pressure-filled, academically demanding environment with lots of tiger-mom energy driving the curriculum, there is way too much homework IMO, and there has been a lot of extra chaos and drama this year, with teachers leaving and class schedule changes. Oh wait, lets not forget puberty! My son is also gifted in the arts, and you know what? That's good enough for me (for now). Having one thing he excels at and having lots of friends means your son is successful in ways that many kids are not. Taking that away from him as punishment for not getting good grades isn't a good strategy; if you must use a consequence, don't take away the music and social life that motivates him. Get him a tutor, remove yourself from the drama, and try to strategize together with dad-- sounds like there is a rift there, but if you can agree what the strategy and consequences will be, your son will respond to your unity on this issue. I think your expectations may be skewed regarding private schools. My son was in 2 different private schools (he has ADD) and neither of them was anywhere near as good as Albany. Call the principal, set up a meeting, get proactive. No one else is going to set the boundaries that you need to set. And remember... he's a teenager, he will likely settle down eventually and get to work if you are firm and settled yourself. Good luck, Albany Panda Mom

Feb 2010

Re: Is it uncool to take lunch to high school?

I checked in with my daughter who is a Freshman at AHS. She reports that plenty of kids bring their own lunches. No one makes a big deal of it. The kids seem to understand diet preferences, cultural dietary requirements, as well as health-related dietary restrictions. Put your mind to rest and Bon Appetite with the healthy food! Jeanne I see lots of kids at AHS sitting down with their lunches on campus. Some buy, some bring. My kids have done a combination of both, and they are sort of middling ''cool.''

The campus lunch facilities are now indoors and much improved. There are usually vegetarian options on the menu. No candy or soda is sold at school, although desserts are sold as club fundraisers, usually after school.

AHS is an open campus, so kids eat in the park, go to Solano or the El Cerrito Plaza for food, or go to nearby houses at lunchtime. Hope this helps!

I have two AHS students (freshmen and junior). They've both been in the Albany School District since kindergarden and have always brought their lunch to school for health, economics, and timing issues (you have to wait in line to get your purchased lunch) Many students buy lunches but many bring their own. To this day I make designs-like writing their names with special lettering - in their brown bags for a little smile when they open their lunch... Even in 'must be cool' high school they get compliments about their lunches - just fresh, loaded up sandwiches mostly. And a few times my son brought an extra home-lunch to school as a special b-day gift to a friend ! Also, for a while my daughter brought home ideas for lunches from her Asian friends... and so we packed her Asian style noodles and such in a special food thermos. I don't think this will be an issue for your daughter, there are lots of healthy eaters in AHS. Home lunch is cool

Nov 2007

My son is in the 8th grade at Albany Middle School. I love the school, the teachers, the level of parent involvment, the sports, etc. However, I have worked closely with him this year on his classwork and I have watched him become increasingly bored and unispired by the curriculum. Math and science seem to catch his interest, but the humanities subjects do seem pretty bland and uninteresting. He is an avid reader and writer outside of school. He has a lot of natural curiosity and it's sad to see it left untapped because he's bored.

I'm thinking about high schools. I don't think he's the right kind of kid for Berkeley High (he struggles at times with focus), but we are considering Maybeck. I am wondering about other parents and (especially) student's experiences at Albany high school. I know it's a great place to go to get into college, but what about beyond that? Is it inspiring? Is creativity rewarded? Are kids challenged in other ways besides academic rigor (to think critically, creatively and to step outside etheir comfort zone)? How ''cliquey'' is it? How does the AHS experience differ from the experience at AMS?

I have read the archives, but the district and the High School have changed so much over the last 5 years. I'd be particularly interested in hearing from AHS students. Anon

My kids have liked AHS a lot, and it's good for many (but not all) students. There are strong efforts to catch students who are not doing well, including a ''small schools'' pilot program with students who have been randomly selected to participate; and a freshman health curriculum that discusses some of the hot issues, including drugs and alcohol. Many good and great teachers (video, AP art history, many in the English Dept) and a few stinkers that kids have to endure.

For kids willing to 'join' there is a lot of activity at AHS. Football, soccer, volleyball.

PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Assn, with student members and student members of the school board), student govt and Leadership. Clubs ranging from service groups (Leo's and Building with Books), Youth & Govt (a very active mock legislature, managed by the Albany YMCA that sends kids on conferences to Sacramento and Monterey), Model U.N., Black Student Union, Jewish Student Union, etc. There is also a Pirates Club, Skateboard Club, and any student with an idea and a faculty sponsor can start a group. There's Career Day, Spirit Week (kids dressed in school colors and decorated the school every day of Homecoming Week), school dances, including 2 formals a year.

But most kids at AHS know each other from kindergarten, or at least from middle school. That means that old alliances linger - though friendships in high school do shift dramatically from the ones in elementary and middle school.

Its a fine school for my kids. Your kid could love it... or... AHS parent

October 2005

I'm interested in getting academic/social input about Albany High School from parents whose children currently attend the school. I have an eighth grader at an academically rigorous middle school (private), but would like to send her to Albany High -- we live in Albany and it would be nice to finally have her at our ''local'' school. I guess I'm wondering how challenging the academics are at AHS. Also, does it have a 2-track academic system like Berkeley High and, if so, how does one get into that higher track if this is appropriate? Is placement based on testing and, if so, when does that testing take place? Also, how do parents feel about the quality of their kids' teachers? The administration? The calibre of the classes? And what is Albany High like socially? Any info on the school's strengths and limitations (diversity, sports, drug use, etc) would be much appreciated. Any info on what colleges AHS grads attend would also be helpful, although I can probably get this from the school. Thanks so much. Ready to switch to public school

I'm prejudiced in favor of Albany HS. Like most public schools, if your child is well organized and attentive, they will do well; if they space out, they may fall through the cracks. Not nearly as many choices as you'd find at Berkeley, but my kids have found some great teachers, good classes (a few duds) and some GREAT classes.

AHS is a reasonable size (1200 kids), with very good administration, counseling staff and faculty, and increasing academic and elective opportunities. The school is now on modified block scheduling, which everyone seems to like - every class on Mondays and half the classes on MW/ TTh for 90-min. each class.

Kids test into rigorous advanced math and language classes, in spring/ summer. AP classes start in jr. year, and many require testing in; but some do not, incl. AP Art History. Homework is several hours, with more before tests and finals or group projects.

There's lots of "school spirit" and there are kids who ignore it. Dozens of school clubs & activities, including YMCA's Youth and Gov't (includes retreats), theater and major spring musical), music (band, orchestra, R&B group, jazz, chorales), golf, computer, service clubs (Leo's), ethnic student unions. The more active your student is, the better time they will have. merry

The short answer is, Albany High is okay. It's overcrowded, it's not so good if your kid is not academic, and it has some disruptive students and substance abuse issues (there was a big problem with drinking at the homecoming dance, plus vandalism on and off school grounds last week). As far as I can tell, it has a strong and responsive administration; conscientious pre-college counseling; AP and Honors classes, but not in all departments; students who mostly come from families that value education highly; a high proportion of good teachers; a few outstanding sports teams; a good music and theater program; and chronically deficient funding that is partly offset by parent volunteers and aggressive private fundraising (big parcel tax vote next month, too).

This year's experiment with a block schedule seems to be going well. I've heard both students and teachers speak positively about it. All students go to only 4 classes on Tues/Thurs and 3 different classes plus advisory period on Wed/Fri, plus all 7 classes on Monday. (Unfortunately, now there's NO way to avoid going to school at 7:40 AM. Students who were taking minimum schedules and weren't doing after-school sports used to be able to go at 8:30 AM and stay later, which is far less painful.) Albany parent

Dec 2003

My son had a positive experience throughout his grammar school years in Albany. But for a scant few extraordinary teachers, Middle school's quality definitively waned. Recognizing that Berkeley High has so much more to offer in terms of course offerings and real life experience, we got an interdistrict transfer. He believes that BHS is a wonderful preparatory school for elite college. His friends still in Albany haven't said the same.

July 2002

I have a daughter currently going to a private school who will be starting at Albany High next fall as a freshman. I have been hearing from parents that the eighth grade at the middle school is very troublesome-lots of drinking, marijuana etc. I am concerned as this was not the climate five years ago when my older daughter was in Albany at middle and high school. Are these big problems? Any info on this would be appreciated. Rowena

We have two students at Albany High who have been in the AUSD since kidergarten. Teenage use of drugs and alcohol can be found at every high school in the country, public/private etc. in my opinion Yes from the info I get from our kids you can buy drugs in or around Albany High anytime, as for drinking I have not personally come in contact with drunk teenagers from AHS but I know some kids from the middle school and high school have problems with alcohol In my opinion kids who have serious problems with drugs and alcohol that interfere with their daily functioning, ability to maintain their curiousity and interest in learning, are kids who would choose to "sedate" themselves anywhere, maybe due to temperment, family stress, or simply not knowing how to cope with the stresses of everyday life

Parents need to maintain open communication with their kids about drugs and alcohol and to share their values about these topics for example I'd prefer a high school kid to have a glass of wine at home at a family gathering ( holiday, party or whatever) and not have it viewed as a completely taboo act , and to understand that drinking and driving don't mix/ to call home anytime a ride is needed etc. Also I don't believe marijuana is a "gateway" drug that will lead to more serious drug use/ it will be obvious if a high school student is using drugs that interferes with their functioning in the world Parents in my opinion need to be honest with their teenagers, to have an open and honest dialogue, to answer their children's questions when they ask about your own drug and alcohol use past and present, and to set an example by the way we as adults live with our teenagers, how we cope etc. Also to provide support and resources so our kids have exposure to involving activities to participate in whatever they are , sports, reading, music, cultural religious, political, social action, etc both in school and outside I have found that Albany High provides a safe enough environment and community for kids to make intelligent choices or at least have choices about what path they are going to take This is definitely anonymous as I respect my kids right to privacy

Answer re Albany Schools and the issue of drugs and alcohol. I have a son who just finished 10th grade at Albany HS, and he has, unfortunately, had some experience with drugs and alcohol. He would tell you that "everyone does it, it's no big deal", and that it's everywhere. He's doing better now, we hope, thanks to team sports and new friends and some counseling. I have friends whose kids have thrived at AMS and AHS and, at least according to the parents, say that they and their peer group have not experimented at all. I have an older child who graduated in 96, and while he "stayed clean", said that lots of kids smoked dope and drank and "that it was everywhere", so I really don't know how much things have changed. As with everything else, it depends on your child, who they hook up with and where they're vulnerable. I do think that use is pretty common, and that it's not being dealt with at a systems level very well, if at all. There's talk of using breathalyzers at school dances, but this doesn't really address the problem. Good luck.

January 2002

Many people have asked about whether Albany High School is a good option for students and parents. This, as with all high schools, depends on the individual student. If a family is looking for a small, academically-oriented high school, Albany High definitely has that to offer. It does have limited course offerings, because it is a small school. The counseling staff does appear to be helpful with the college application process. (I don't know first hand.)

Its shortcomings lie in the emotional realm. It places a strong emphasis on academic success and its reputation as a high school where a high percentage of students go on to college. However, it has little to offer in the way of nurturing and support for the individual who is having difficulties, either emotional or academic. Unless students fall in the rather narrow range served by the Resource Specialist Program, there is little in-school support or attention for students who are not highly successful in an academically rigorous environment. There are individual staff members who can be nurturing and supportive, but it is often a matter of luck if a student encounters them.

The attitude at AHS frequently seems to be, "If you are unhappy with what we have to offer, you can always go elsewhere. There are plenty of parents from surrounding districts clamoring to get their children into a school like Albany that is perceived as safer than most neighboring schools, while providing a pretty good academic program." Both of my daughters have had difficulty for these reasons at Albany High, over the course of the last eight years. I am frankly glad that this is our last year there.

I agree with what the last person wrote about AHS: "It places a strong emphasis on academic success and its reputation as a high school where a high percentage of students go on to college. However, it has little to offer in the way of nurturing and support for the individual who is having difficulties, either emotional or academic." We moved to Albany 2 years ago. My daughter has had a difficult time penetrating the cliques that seem predominant both at AHS and AMS (8th grade). Unlike the school she came from, the kids in Albany tend to exclude those who don't fit their particular mold. My younger two children will have a much easier time at AHS because they are establishing friendships at a much younger age. But my eldest is just biding her time until she can escape AHS and go to college where, I keep telling her, she will be among more open-minded, mature, and accepting people. Also, AHS has very low school spirit. There doesn't seem to be much enthusiasm when it comes to getting involved in some of the traditional, fun high school activities like football games, pep rallies, cheerleading, music, etc. It seems like a dreary school in that respect.

Wow, what a different experience we have had regarding AHS from the person who moved to Albany 2 years ago whose daughter is just biding time until college. We, too, moved to Albany 2 years ago and my daughter cried every morning for the first 3 months she attended AMS (eighth grade). Like the previous writer's daughter, she had difficulty penetrating the cliques, friendships that had been established since kindergarten in that small community. However, there were kids who befriended her and by mid-year she was much happier. Our main challenge has been the academics, which are so much more challenging than her previous school. That has continued to be a major struggle into 9th grade, so perhaps the part about the lack of academic support is true (we've had to hire tutors or work with our daughter ourselves so she can pull "C"s in some of her subjects, and she's had many tests with Ds or even Fs, which she never had before).

Now, as far as school spirit at AHS--I don't know what events that family has attended, but I think spirit abounds aplenty! The class mascot building and subsequent parade was both fun and hilarious--the essence of small-town America. The grand opening of the new building was a great chance to hobnob and see school sprit at work. The Winter Ball seemed to be teeming with gorgeous gals and well-dressed fellahs having a great time. And the plays--I wish I had seen Macbeth, I heard it was fabulous, but the two "little" plays (The Lesson and Beyond Therapy) going on right now are fantastic and the kids do a wonderful job. They seem to have tremendous enthusiasm and spirit. In fact, I'm sorry my job requirements are such that I can't be more involved myself, so I feel that this is just a fraction of what is available in the way of family fun and school spirit.

Well, that's just my 2 cents' worth. And, because Albany is such a small town and my daughter would cringe (disown me?) if she knew I had written about her, please sign me Anonymous as well --although secretly I hope our paths might cross!