Albany High School
- related page: Transferring to Albany High from another district
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!
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
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
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
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 (http://albany.patch.com), 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!.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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!