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Have you been wondering which L.A. private elementary schools are “feeder” schools for Harvard-Westlake, a 7-12 grade secondary school? Here’s an article directly from the source: The Harvard Westlake Chronicle. It’s from 2007, but still interesting…
Harvard-Westlake Chronicle, April 25, 2007
3 local feeder schools take 58 spots in class of 2013
APRIL 25, 2007
By Adam Sieff
A few years ago, two sixth graders from the Center for Early Education in West Hollywood applied for admission at both Harvard-Westlake and Brentwood Schools. Each school took one of the two students that spring as it prepared to fill their entering class.
But Harvard-Westlake Director of Admission Elizabeth Gregory soon found out from Center administrators that the student she admitted had actually indicated that Brentwood was her first choice.
Soon thereafter, the Brentwood admission office got word from the Center that the student they accepted had indicated Harvard-Westlake as their first choice.
A few phone calls later and Gregory was on the phone with Brentwood.
“The Center told us about it so we called up Brentwood’s admission office and switched kids,” Gregory said. “Everybody was happy.”
Feeder schools like the Center are prized because of their ability to fulfill a family’s first choice in secondary school admission.
While a student swap is not so common, it is common for feeder school administrators to make phone calls on a student’s behalf.
“One hopes parents are able to send their kids to a good school,” Center Vice Principal Lois Levy said. “We will definitely go to bat for a student, absolutely, but only honestly though.”
This year, the Admission Office indicates that there were about 1,035 students applying for admission to the Harvard-Westlake Class of 2013. Of them, around 95 were from three local feeder schools: the Center, the John Thomas Dye School in Bel Air and the Mirman School on Mulholland Drive. These three schools also appear to have the most success when it comes to offers of admission as well — 58 students, or 24 percent of the entering class, have matriculated to Harvard-Westlake from the three schools.
Carlthrop Elementary in Santa Monica, as well as Curtis and Stephen S. Wise schools on Mulholland Drive also send many students to Harvard-Westlake’s seventh grade each year.
In the ninth grade, Saint Matthew’s School in the Pacific Palisades and Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood send droves of students annually, largely because they do not offer a high school, Gregory said.
So how exactly does a school become a feeder school to Harvard-Westlake? The quality of education, preparation and packaging of students may have something to do with it. So might the close ties school officials often have with Harvard-Westlake and current Harvard-Westlake administrators.
“Harvard-Westlake has always been a big draw for students from those particular schools,” Head of Harvard-Westlake Dr. Jeanne Huybrechts said. “It is very important that we continue to receive applications from the best and the brightest.”
Long term connections
Ray Michaud traded his morning trek through Coldwater Canyon Avenue traffic for an equally grueling excursion up Chalon Road in 1979. Now the Headmaster of the John Thomas Dye School, Michaud had served as Harvard-Westlake’s Assistant Head of Upper School until leaving to take on his current position. 24 students from JTD will be matriculating to Harvard-Westlake next year.
Michaud’s connection to Harvard-Westlake is a typical phenomenon of the other three large feeder schools: Mirman Headmaster John West was a dance and physical education teacher at Harvard-Westlake, and Deirdre Hudnut, named by West Magazine as one of the “most powerful people in Los Angeles,” is the wife of Harvard-Westlake President Tom Hudnut serves as the Center for Early Education’s Director of Admissions. Reveta Bowers, Director at The Center, also served on the board of Westlake School before it merged with the Harvard School in 1991.“I think it is very important to maintain strong relationships with these three schools,” Gregory said.
Michaud still remains fairly close with school administrators and former colleagues.
“I am still close with Elizabeth Gregory in the Admission Office and [Head of Middle School] John Amato, but there aren’t too many left from my day,” Michaud added with a chuckle.
This connected history between administrative leaders may certainly have contributed to the pile of manila folders in Gregory’s office. Michaud agreed: “My relationship with Elizabeth Gregory is very important,” he said. “Half our class usually ends up at Harvard-Westlake because we have developed a certain degree of integrity and trust over the years.”
The Admission Office also plays a part of its own when it comes to generating interest at those three schools. In the last two years, Gregory and others on the Admission staff have made recruitment presentations to John Thomas Dye, Mirman and the Center for Early Education.
“We like to generate as much interest in the school as possible, and these visits are a way of doing that,” Gregory said.
The right stuff
While the shared history between Harvard-Westlake and these feeder schools certainly seems to generate additional interest in the school, it is not necessarily the cause for the higher admit rates from those schools. These schools do a good job of preparing students for a career at Harvard-Westlake.
“It is true. Students from these three schools are better prepared,” Gregory said.
“They are high school preparatory schools. For the most part, they do not have high schools or middle schools that they are trying to hold onto their kids for. They pride themselves on sending their students to Harvard-Westlake. That is why parents pay to send their children there.”
In his February 2006 “State of the School” address, Michaud boasted “JTD students score 20-30 points higher on their ERBs than other elite schools within the National Association of Independent Schools. “Our type of academic program is similar to what is offered at Harvard-Westlake,” Michaud said.
“Our students begin a block schedule, moving from class to class by subject, beginning in fifth grade,” he added.
Michaud said that JTD department heads often speak with middle school department heads in an effort to try and synchronize the curricula between the schools.
At Mirman, where 13 students in a class of 32 will matriculate to Harvard-Westlake next year, students must have an IQ equivalent of 145 or higher to attend. Last year, 22 Mirman sixth graders matriculated to Harvard-Westlake. At the Center for Early Education, which will be sending 21 students this year, students are groomed and packaged specifically for the purpose of secondary school admission.
“It’s not only about the student when it comes to secondary school admission, it’s about the family,” Levy said.
Preparation begins in the fifth grade when students and their parents meet with members of the administration to preview the upcoming application process and find possible match schools. There is also a parent night in the spring of fifth grade in which the principal and vice principal discuss essay writing and interviewing techniques, as well as test preparation. Booklets outlining and indexing high school matriculation are also distributed.
“Not every school is as interested in packaging their students for secondary school admission as many of our feeders are,” Gregory said. “Buckley, which has a high school, is not as interested in packaging students as the Center or others.”
The grooming at the Center continues in the sixth grade, as there are more student-parent meetings. After applications have been sent, students submit a list of their preferred secondary schools so that administrators at the Center can push for students’ first choices, as illustrated exaggeratedly, in the Brentwood student swap. Michaud said he also makes calls on behalf of JTD students, if necessary.
“All big feeders try to represent a student’s first choice school to the admission office and we then try to make the best decision for that family,” Gregory said.
It’s in the genes
One final link between feeder schools has little to do with bustling young minds, but rather the men and women who spawned them.
Feeder schools boast parents who are active and involved in the education of their child, a quality the Admission Office takes note of, Gregory said.
“These elementary schools tell their parents that the more active than they are, the better they look to secondary schools, and many parents listen because the sending school will let us know how active a parent has been as part of the application.
Sometimes they will even write a letter talking about how a family was active,” she said.
“We like to see these kinds of active parents,” Gregory added. “But the main focus is still the child.”
Still, it is only certain types of involvement that impress Gregory and her staff.
“We don’t really care if a parent baked cookies for the fair, but if a parent has been on a board, that’s a big deal,” she said.
“We know that means they are committed to the education of their child.”
Parents are also more active financially at feeder schools, she said. At John Thomas Dye and The Center for Early Education, school endowments approach $20 and $30 million respectively, according to school administrators.
Mirman is in the process of building its endowment, but school administrators there did not have any figures to release at this point.
Harvard-Westlake currently has an endowment of more than $40 million and is working on expanding that figure, according to the school’s Advancement Office.
Gregory was cautious when discussing the schools policy on using the ability to contribute financially as a factor in admission.
“We will take risks on students for whatever reason, so long as they are willing to work hard and commit to a rigorous college preparatory program,” she said.
“We don’t get to choose students who are from families that are able to contribute financially to Harvard-Westlake, they choose us.”
I first met Michelle Chiklis when a mutual friend posted a link to her fabulous lifestyle blog, Carpool, Couture and Cocktails on Facebook. Clicking onto her site, I was immediately drawn into her optimistic but honest posts about motherhood. Her beautifully photographed posts cover fashion, travel and entertaining, mixing high end and budget-friendly options. Michelle is married to the actor Michael Chiklis (The Shield, Vegas, currently filming When The Game Stands Tall), so their life is filled with glamour. They have two daughters, Autumn, a recent graduate of Harvard-Westlake and Odessa, who attends a private K-12 in Los Angeles. Both girls attended Stephen S. Wise Elementary School. Michelle is completely down-to-earth and writes about her ups and downs as a mom of two daughters, fashion obsession and life as a writer (yes, a traffic cone got caught on her car and she dragged it over Coldwater Canyon).
Recently, I invited Michelle to a lunch for L.A. mom bloggers at my house. I was so glad she came. We ended up talking for more than an hour after other guests left. Last week, Michelle and I met for a working mani/pedi and had the best time chatting about everything from our nail color (OPI, of course) to helping our daughters transition to new schools to taking our blogs to the next level. Michelle is beautiful, warm and witty, someone I feel like I’ve known all my life. I consider her a new friend and reading her blog, you will too!
Checklist Mommy plays hooky from major PTA volunteer jobs at Temple Israel of Hollywood. (Checklist Mommy)
To Redshirt Or Not For Kindergarten? (Abcnews.com)
What if your kid doesn’t like soccer or baseball? Here’s a wonderful piece by Betsy Brown Braun about really getting to know your kid. In her piece, a 5th grader defied the sports trend and plays the bagpipes! (Betsy Brown Braun)
Here’s a really good overview of popular social media sites for kids. I’m a big user of social media…Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, You Tube, Vine…but, I don’t think anything good can come from kids asking anonymous questions on some of these sites. (What Is Privacy)
I adore this kid’s book by Garcelle Beauvais. Here’s my review of I Am Mixed (Momangeles)
Private kindergartens are cropping up in China–and, the competition for students is turning deadly. (L.A. Times)
Check out this amazing piece on bizarre buildings your kids will love to see, like The Dog House, The Happy House and one with gigantic bright green octopus tentacles coming out of it. (Timbuktu)
(Top photo credit: www.theprivateschoollady.com)
Have a great weekend! -Christina
Here’s a piece I co-wrote for The Daily Truffle. If you have a kid in L.A. private school (or you plan to), expensive summer camps are part of the scene. This is the first year my daughter will attending one of these camps, but some of her friends started in 4th grade. – Read the piece to see where she’ll be going. Christina
From space camp, to Swiss camp, to Jewish (culturally-only Jewish, of course) camps, LA is about to send off the kids for the summer months and some of the destos are just as pricey and fierce as where they will be summering themselves.
Gone are days of knot tying, archery and s’mores – those aren’t even on the agenda. Those low-key (and low cost) traditions enjoyed by past generations have been replaced by a list of first-class activities.
To continue reading, click on The Daily Truffle
Arriving at Westridge School in Pasadena on a cloudy morning, I was immediately struck by the serene beauty of the school, which sits on a cul-de-sac on a quiet residential street. Westridge is an assemblage of a set of 17 graceful, elegant Craftsman style buildings, interspersed with mid-century modern structures. The 9.5 acre campus is filled with trees and has the feel of a small college campus, appropriately scaled for girls grades 4-12.
Helen Hopper, director of admissions and Monica Menez, the school’s communications director, welcomed me graciously to the office where we talked before setting off on a campus tour. Helen has been with Westridge for 26 years and Monica joined the staff almost 10 years ago. They are both lovely. Helen is the type of administrator I immediately connected with. I trusted her invaluable experience. She’s so friendly and articulate, with knowledge of both the big picture of the school and the tiniest detail. Monica is young and fun, a role model and someone the girls can identify with.
Sitting in Helen’s office, I asked about the overall educational philosophy of the school, which Helen described as a “progressive, college preparatory girls education.” Westridge begins in 4th grade because, as Helen explained, “Research shows that’s the age when girls benefit from a single sex education.” Under the leadership of head of school, Elizabeth McGregor, Westridge will celebrate its Centennial next year, an amazing accomplishment.” Founded in 1913 by Mary Lowther Ranney, a noted architect and teacher who had been denied the right to vote, Ms. Ranney opened the school in her home so that girls would have the right to be fully educated. The school has based its programs on girls’ developmental stages of learning with qualities like confidence and critical thinking demonstrated by girls, for girls, forming the central tenet of the school. The rest is, quite literally, history, as the school enters its second century!
Simply put, Westridge is astounding! The breath of programs and the warmth of the school are impossible to overlook. It boasts some formidable advantages, including very robust, state-of-the-art signature science and arts programs, a college preparatory curriculum, and top-tier faculty, many who have advanced degrees.
In the Lower School (Grades 4-6), there are about 100 girls. The language arts curriculum is integrated to connect the study units with what the students are leaning in science and other subjects. Math, performing arts and Spanish offer immersion into these subjects with a focus on collaboration, group work and hands on learning. This style of education underscores the school’s progressive approach.
The Sciences Are Front and Center
As I walked around the campus, not really wanting to leave the quaint oasis, we entered the incredible new upper school science and math building, a 14,000 square foot, two story space where students “do science, not just study it.” (Westridge School). It is filled with chemistry labs, math classrooms, physics labs, technology and a data center to support the school’s 150 laptops. The eco-friendly quality of the building (it is a Platium LEED-certified project) allows for teaching about green technology and environmental education.
Art With Panache
Equally as impressive as the school’s science programs are its performing arts programs. In the Lower School, choral music in all three grades is emphasized, adding string instruments in 5th and 6th grades. Art, drawing, painting and mixed media are offered in all three grades and ceramics is added for 6th grade. The Performing Arts Center, a 600 seat, state-of-the-art theater is the home for numerous theatrical productions, concerts, dances and more.
As Helen, Monica and I crisscrossed the courtyard to reach the Lower School, Helen stopped to ask a group of girls to chat about the school for a few minutes. Eager to share their Westridge experiences, the girls told me about the ease of making friends, the great teachers and their enthusiasm for coming to school every day. The quiet of the campus is filled with girls’ laughter, a lot of pink and purple backpacks and khaki-skirted uniforms. Helen pointed out that Westridge has human development programs, student council and a full-time nurse and counselor on staff, with courses to help girls navigate the social and health issues of tween/teen years in a safe, non-threatening place. Some of these life skills courses are offered in the after-school enrichment program for grades 4-8 that is included in the tuition. Clearly, Westridge has sharp insight into what girls want and need!
According to Helen, the main entry points for admission are 4th, 6th, 7th and 9th grades. For 6th grade, the school adds between 8-10 students and about 1/3 of the students are admitted for 7th grade (about 20 new students). Incoming students are admitted from both public and private schools. Families from the San Gabriel Valley, Los Feliz, Silverlake, Atwater Village and other areas attend Westridge. The total enrollment, 4-12 grades is 480 students, with an average class size of 14 and a student/faculty ratio of 6:1. Tution for 2012-13 is $25,550 for grades 4-6. Financial aid is an important part of the school’s mission, with approximately 1/3 of the current students receiving some financial aid. Awards range from a few hundred dollars to full tuition. Tours are ongoing by request.
Westridge is proud that in the past six years, it has produced 22 National Merit Scholarship finalists. The Class of 2012 gained admission to Brown, U.C. campuses, University of Chicago, Claremont McKenna College, Johns Hopkins, USC, Stanford, MIT and many more.
Westridge School’s past has informed its present in a remarkable way. It’s impossible to miss the impact and contributions of the school’s founder and its alumna over the years. Yet, Westridge has embraced state-of-the-art science, art and technology in a truly modern way.
Westridge School is the belle of the ball…and of the world!
Sometimes, it seems like kindergarten is the new 2nd grade. Depending on where your child will be attending school, the kindergarten of 2013 at many L.A. private schools is a lot more accelerated than in years past. So, if you’re looking for a summer program that incorporates fun-based learning to ensure your child will be prepared for kindergarten, check out Academic Achievers’ KinderPrep Program!
I truly enjoy working with Janis Adams, the lovely and talented CEO/founder of Academic Achievers. Janis has been a sponsor of past Beyond The Brochure speaking events at Kidville in Brentwood, she’s written very informative guest posts for our blog and she’s the proud mom of 3 kids who have graduated from Village School, Harvard-Westlake, Loyola and Harvard University. Janis knows what’s required at L.A. private elementary schools and she’s created KinderPrep to meet the needs of students who will be entering kindergarten!
For more information, visit, www.academic-achievers.com/kinderprep
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Academic Achievers. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Academic Achievers.
Wow…amazing! Architect designed kindergarten buildings from around the world! Check out #7. The World’s Most Beautiful Kindergarten Buildings. (Timbuktu)
A private school K-12 education can cost as much as a year of college and parents are racking up debt to pay for it. Private School Education Worth The Cost? (Foxbusiness.com)
A profile of the long-time head of H-W who recently stepped down. Thomas Hudnut Leaves A Legacy of Excellence at Harvard-Westlake (Los Angeles Times)
This article is hilarious! One mom’s comment is very entitled. I’ve never seen this happen at our kids’ school, but I’ve heard it does occur in L.A. too. Stop Sending The Nanny. Expensive Manhattan private schools want parent volunteers, not nanny volunteers. (NY Post)
New head of school at Poly. Polytechnic School, Pasadena names John Bracker as Head of School for 2013-14. (Polytechnic website)
My friend, blogger Jessica Gottlieb, likes what the headmaster at her kids’ L.A. private school has to say about parenting in the age of parental anxiety. (JessicaGottlieb.com)
(click on flyer to enlarge)
Have a great weekend!- Christina
When you’re checking out school websites or touring schools, its easy to get distracted by seemingly important issues and quickly decide a school isn’t for you. Or, you may be willing to ignore an issue that should be a red flag.
Here are 5 reasons you should (or shouldn’t) cross a school off your list.
1. Don’t reject the school if the parent leading the tour is rude or not well informed about the school’s curriculum or which math program the is used. This happens and its up to you to excuse this one parent if you like the school. I’m not saying don’t make a mental note of it, but he/she is only one out of many parents at the school. Leading tours is a coveted volunteer gig and there are many reasons why parents are selected for this job. You can always attend another tour and hopefully it will offer different tour guide. Disappointing? Definitely. Dealbreaker? No.
2. Don’t reject the school if the school’s website is outdated or disappointing. Yes, we assume a private school in L.A. should have a great looking, informative website, as well as a Facebook Page and even a Twitter account. Well, that’s not always true. Don’t cross a school off your list just because its website falls short of expectations. There are many reasons for this and as the saying goes, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” You might be surprised to learn that some schools are behind the technology curve by a few years. Maybe you can be the volunteer who changes that!
3. Do reject the school if the distance will make you crazy. For kindergarten, if a school is too far from your house, delete it from your list. What is “too far?” This is different for every family, but with young kids a long drive too and from school can be difficult on everyone. Carpools are unpredictable with little ones and its best to assume you’ll be doing a lot of the driving. Try driving to and from the school during morning and afternoon on a weekday.
4. Do reject the school if you are on a tour and you don’t like the way a teacher is speaking to the kids, that’s a red flag. If a teacher seems disinterested or is snappish with the kids, this could end up being your child’s teacher. Of course, there are different teaching styles and educational philosophies, and some schools are stricter than others. But, if you hear or see something that doesn’t sit well with you, it might be because it’s the wrong type of school for your family.
5. Don’t reject the school because you dislike the behavior of families on the tour. Obnoxious questions and over-the-top-bragging are overheard on too many tours to let it influence your decision about a school. Remember, these are parents who are touring, but that doesn’t mean their child will be attending the school.
Getting your first enrollment contract can be exciting and daunting. As you may have noticed, tuition isn’t the only cost of private school. Now, I’m not complaining, I’m just saying…its something to think about. The reason I’m not complaining is that I think private school is worth every penny. I really do! Even so, very few of us are immune from the stresses of the family budget and the hefty price tag associated with a good private school education.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the fees you can expect. Tuition is the big expense, but it’s not the only one. This is not based on one school, but our own example of what an L.A. private elementary school might cost.
EXAMPLE OF FIRST YEAR COSTS
Tuition: $24,000 (can be paid in full or using a monthly payment plan which charges interest and requires tuition insurance)
Facility Fee: $750
Class Trip Fee: $200
Parent Association Fee: $75.00
Field Trips: Many field trips are free, but overnight trips can cost several hundred dollars.
Hot Lunch (optional). Many schools offer hot lunch and the cost will depend on the school and how often your child orders hot lunch, but it can cost about $6.00 per day.
Enrichment Classes (optional): These afterschool classes like cooking, art and sports generally cost about $100 per class. You should note that many kids take more than one enrichment class per session. There can be two or three sessions per year.
Teacher Holiday Gifts/Gift Fund (optional)
School Bus: $2000/year
School Uniforms: $500/year
Aftercare Programs/Extended Care: Many schools offer afterschool enrichment classes and aftercare for parents who work. Every school is different, but the cost of after school care can be substantial and is definitely something you should budget for if you need it.
Spring Break and Summer Camps: Some schools offer their own camps during vacations. If your school has a camp, it’s convenient and a good way for your kid to be with their friends. The costs for school camps start at about $350/week and may include lunch.
The other costs like Annual Giving, school fundraisers, classroom charitable projects and bake sales, moms night out are worthy of a separate post (coming soon).