Holy Names High School


Private School
operated by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland
Website: http://www.hnhsoakland.org
Phone: P: (510) 450-1110
4660 Harbord Drive Oakland, CA 94618
Program Type: 
All-girls school

Parent Q&A

  • Holy Names High School?

    (3 replies)

    Hello. I am looking for input about Holy Names High School in Oakland.

    My daughter is a quiet introvert who loves art of all kinds (painting, knitting, making, sewing, sculpture, building, anything artistic), and is looking for a small school. She has ADHD so we want a school that will work with us, and that doesn’t look too much at test scores. Although she gets all As, standardized tests are not her strength. She also loves soccer, and is interested in environmentalism, conservation and animals.

    She is very unique and doesn't fit in to a common "type" (like popular, artsy, etc.), so I don't believe she would do well at a school that is clicky. She needs a nurturing environment where a quiet girl will be respected and noticed.

    Thank you!

    RE: Holy Names High School? ()

    You didn’t mention having visited the campus which is the best way to feel a good feel of its vibe. My sister and I graduated from HNH in ‘69 and ‘79, respectively. And my niece graduated in ‘02. I personally loved attending an all girl school where I felt very free to be me as did all of the other extraordinary young women I attended with. The three of us continue to cultivate strong friendships with HNH alumnae. The reunions that keep me coming back to catch up are always joyous occasions. 
    I think your daughter would enjoy being part of a predominately nourishing community with other artistic and talented students/staff.
    HNH’s enrollment has sadly declined and no longer has 100+ enrollment for each grade. I imagine that translates to more faculty/student engagement thereby preventing that introvert from slipping by unnoticed.

    Best of luck to you and your family finding a good fit for your daughter. 

    RE: Holy Names High School? ()

    You posted for advice on both SJND and HNH - both great schools, she'd probably be happy at either - so for a daughter as you described I'd probably lean towards HNH- which is smaller, all girls, and maybe a better fit for her personality. My kids have gone thru Catholic schools and have had friends at both places. Your best bet will be to do all the info sessions and other options they present this fall and decide from there. Good luck!

    RE: Holy Names High School? ()

    We toured HNHS last year with my daughter and were really impressed with the campus, curriculum, teachers etc -- it's a very welcoming and warm environment that seems to foster a strong sense of community and belonging.  And if your daughter is in to art, they have beautiful art studios with huge windows and incredible views! I attended an all-girls high school on the east coast in the 1990s and I think there are so many advantages to the all-girls experience.  My daughter wound up choosing a big school with more robust sports options but I would have been very happy if she had chosen HNHS.  One of her good friends started there and is really liking it (even though it's all been remote learning to-date).  Good luck!

Parent Reviews

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RE: Alternatives to Tilden Prep? ()

Hello, I graduated from Holy Names high and so did my niece 23 years later. I loved that it’s an all girls school and college prep. Don’t think it’ll be as expensive as Tilden and the class sizes have dropped tremendously since my time (70’s). It may worth your time to do a little research on it and schedule a visit. They’ll soon be celebrating 100 years. 

Good luck!

We love Holy Names. Our daughter is a senior. Academic and needed a smaller environment for this last year of school. I am happy to share our experiences with other parents.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Nov 2013

Re: Carondolet high school
As an alternative to Carondelet, have you considered Holy Names? It is small and all-girls. It is extremely diverse, racially and socioeconomically. The sense of community among the girls is very strong. My daughter graduated last year and she remarked that over her four years there, there were no cliques. If you are looking for a safe and supportive environment with strong academics, you cannot do better. Happy Holy Names mom

I cannot speak to Carondelet, but I can say that your situation is very similar to past experiences we have had, and that our daughter (white) and our ''Extra-daughter'' (child of color) have both been very happy at Holy Names High School.

DIVERSITY While the high school is Catholic, roughly half of the girls come from other religious backgrounds including Jewish, Buddhist, and Islam. I'm guessing 2/3 are girls of color and the school is extraordinarily culturally diverse as well. My daughters immediate friends include Tibetan, Polish, Mexican, Filipino, etc.

ACADEMICS We have found the academics to be rigorous, and challenging. Further, the Learning Specialist is extraordinarily skilled as well as warm and supportive. I have never seen a school that could so elegantly address both my daughter's brightness, and her learning disabilities so that both of these aspects of her are supported.

SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT Further, I have seen both of our girls soar in their self-confidence, their sense of belonging to and being responsible for their community, and blossom in terms of their sense of having the power to positively impact the world around them.

SPECIFIC STRENGTHS OF HOLY NAMES HS As parents, it appears to us that the building blocks of this growing empowerment we see in the girls is related to: 1) its being and all girls school (check out the evidence -based research on the value of all-girls education) 2) the commitment to creating ''just-right'' academic challenges for each girl and the mature support system in place to help girls be successful in any area, if the need arises 3) the values of inclusiveness and kindness that are foundational at Holy Names HS 4) that the social dynamics of these teenagers is skillfully and directly attended to (Ex: my daughter recently went on a required full day retreat on''Friendship'') 5) and the small size and solid administrative structures of the school which ensure that no girl falls through the cracks

FRIENDS AND COMMUNITY Both of our girls have ''found their best friends for life'' at Holy Names... and this happened within the first 6-8 weeks at the school for each of them.

I'm happy to answer any other questions you may have. Andrea

July 2013

Re: More Information on El Cerrito High School
I can not give you information about either ECHS or AHS, but as I was skimming posts something you wrote caught my eye: that your daughter is entering a stage where she wants to hide that she is intelligent. This statement made me profoundly sad because it is so true for our young women at that age. My daughter is entering her senior year at Holy Names HS - a small, all girls school in the Oakland Hills. I would strongly encourage you to take a look - it is probably not too late to explore her attending, the cost is reasonable and it is so worth having your daughter in an environment where she does not have to hide any part of who she is! maggie

July 2011

Re: Catholic high school for child with out gay parents?
Holy Names High School - all girls, small classes, outstanding academics, and incredibly diverse for the size (economically, racially, religiously and socially).

We are a Jewish family and have been incredibly supported, do not feel awkward at all and think it is a great educational environment (nurturing but challenging). There are a number of LGBT families as well as girls who seem comfortable expressing their sexuality as it works for them.. maggie

June 2011

We are in the process of considering high school options for our middle school daughter and would love to get recent feedback on Holy Names High School in Oakland. Of particular interest is the academic standards and college preparation. Is Holy Names as rigorous as 'college prepatory' schools in the area? What colleges do the girls get accepted to after attending Holy Names? Are the religious/spirituality classes a big part of the curriculum? Is there 'mean girl' behavior and is it sufficiently addressed by the school? We are an open-minded and not terribly religious Catholic family. We place a strong emphasis on academics in our household and are looking for a school that will allow our daughter to grow academically, socially, and spiritually. Thanks for any help you can provide! mom of middle schooler

I have a daughter who just finished her freshman year at HNHS and I can not say enough good things about the school.

My daughter is very high achieving and is getting everything she needs academically in an incredibly nurturing environment. Her classes push her appropriately without making her feel constantly stressed and there is no sense of competition between the students - there is room for everyone to be successful and for girls to be successful in different ways. She has a great group of friends and while the girls don't necessarily love everyone else there, they are kind, respectful and supportive of each other. It is small, but it means there is a great sense of collaboration and an opportunity to build relationships between classes. Religion is a big part of the school in the sense that they are building a sense of spirituality in the students - we are not catholic and my daughter has been encouraged to share experiences from her own faith practice and to question what she is learning.

The school does not have the shiny new facility that others have, and they do not have technology in every classroom - something that I actually appreciate - but they have an academically challenging environment without the stress of other high achieving schools. College placement depends on how your student has done - the top 10% are going to top schools (like anywhere), it's just a smaller number because there are fewer girls. There is a 100% college attendance rate and they helped their 37 graduating seniors get over 250k in scholarships this year! Maggie

Feb 2008

We are considering enrolling our 13 year old daughter at Holy Names High School. What have you heard/experienced, both positive and negative, about Holy Names? jlh

My 16 yr old daughter went to HNHS for 9th through half of 11th. (She left because her interest in stagecraft drew her to Skyline HS in Oakland where the set up was recently renovated). HNHS was a great experience from the stand point of the all female environment truly giving the young women there the opportunities to grow in ways that they might not in a co-ed one, the small size of the school has the advantage of letting each student know they make a difference. The religion classes while perhaps not everyone\x92s cup of tea, give the students the opportunity to discuss topics they don\x92t often come across in their everyday social world, listen to differing points of view and through that exposes them to belief systems other than their own. The student body is very diverse and certainly reflects the Oakland demographic more than I would have expected. Generally a very positive place for girls to learn. Some of the negatives might include: a curriculum could use a little update--the texts in the English courses are the same ones I read in high schooll; the faculty is good, but as in any small school when one leaves, it is felt more than in a large urban school. Hope that helps some in your decision making. Oakland mom

Our daughter attends Holy Names High School. She is a smart, motivated and self-directed girl. It was her choice to go there. I was skeptical because it is very small, didn't have the rah-rah reputation of other high schools and there were no boys (not that I want her boy crazy, mind you.) Also, her grade school teachers thought she was ready for a bigger pond. All I can say is that she is so at home there and doing very well. The school recognizes her abilities and has placed her in honors and AP classes. We too heard good and bad about the school, but we heard good and bad about almost all the high schools. In the end we conceded to our daughter's wishes and it has been a very positive outcome. I should add though that she is a student who would have done well wherever she went. HNHS Mom


Re: Violin Lessons
Holy Names College has an excellent preparatory music program (private and group lessons). My daughter is studying Suzuki violin from Wendy Reid, who is calm and understanding, and who relates very well to our 8 year old and her quirks. Another good teacher is Dorothy Lee. I also believe Holy Names provides lessons for other instruments. Holy Names Prep Music dept. can be reached at 436-1224. Trish

March 1998

I am a graduate of Holy Names High School in the Oakland hills, and both of my brothers are graduates of St Mary's high School in Berkeley (one before it went co-ed and one since.) In addition, I have been volunteering with the high school students at church and so I have been keeping up on Salesian as well as O'Dowd.

It seems from the schools you listed that you are mostly interested in a co-ed school, but I would really encourage you to consider Holy Names if you have a daughter. In fact my family feels a great sense of loss that the closest single sex school for boys is out at De La Salle in Concord. I really enjoyed my time at Holy Names, my older brother was very relieved that St Mary's didn't go co-ed until after he was graduated, and my younger brother as well as some of the current students I know all feel a real sense of loss now that the school is mixed.

I know that there are a lot of girls that think that they will never meet guys if they are in an all girls school, but that is not true. In fact many of the girls I started Holy Names with had made deals with heir parents that if they were unhappy after the first year they could transfer out, and none did. High school was a more laid back experience socially for us because we didn't "have to worry about boys all day". In addition Holy Names and St Joseph Notre Dame in Alameda are the only High schools that require uniforms (I think) which eliminates the clothing and social status problem that so many high school students face. (It is also a lot cheaper because we didn't "have to worry about boys all day". In addition Holy Names and St Joseph Notre Dame in Alameda are the only High schools that require uniforms (I think) which eliminates the clothing and social status problem that so many high school students face. (It is also a lot cheaper for the parent of a teen.) I felt that the single sex environment really helped us all feel more confident and free to speak out in class and to achieve academically. I encourage all girls to really consider Holy Names. The school has a very academic program. All students take 4 years of English and religion, 2-3 years of lab science, 3-4 years of math, 4 years of history/government and econ., 2-4 years of music or art, 3-4 years of foreign language and 2 year of PE as well as a semester of computers with a top computer lab. In addition the school has many sports teams and extra curricular clubs. most schools no longer offer 7 subjects, but holy names does. They have several Open Houses a year, and I really encourage parents and students to check it out..

From my experience ant the conversations that I have with current students I think that the most academically challenging catholic schools right now are Holy Names and O'Dowd. Holy names has a lot of diversity. O'Dowd has more of a prep school feel to it. There is a lot more money at O'Dowd so the kids tend to dress really expensively and a lot have cars. St Mary's and Salesian are also pretty diverse although St Marys has become less diverse since it went co-ed.

St Marys is improving its academics, but there have been constant changes in the administration since the school went co-ed, and there is just not the same wholesome attitude that there was at the school. We have been quite unhappy that the school seems much more interested in academic achievement (although they only offer 6 subjects now), at the expense of their previous emphasis on educating the whole student. In addition, in the past the school used to give preference to applicants from catholic schools and to siblings of current students, and they pretty much gave that up when they went co-ed so that they could attract more Berkeley prep school students.

It seems to me that it is a long process for a school to go from single sex to co-ed, and Salesian and St Marys are still working on it. Since Salesian went co-ed a while ago, they are a little further along. '