High School Admissions Process: A Natural Culmination of High Point’s Kindergarten-8th Grade Journey.

By Gary Stern

High Point Academy takes great pride in preparing its graduates for success both as scholars and citizens as they embark upon their journey in high school and beyond.  For fifty-three years, offering a strong Kindergarten-8th grade foundation has been our tried and true mission—to awaken the joy of learning in each student. Critical to the success of our mission is nurturing the development of the Total Child: cognitive, social, emotional, ethical, and physical.  Ultimately, we instill within each student the ability to think critically, view the world through multiple perspectives, and to work collaboratively with others.  Success includes empowering each student with the organizational, study, and time management skills to effectively navigate the delicate balance between academic, personal, and extracurricular pursuits and responsibilities. At the heart of our mission is to value, above all else, the development of good character and a genuine compassion and empathy for others.

Where does the K-8th High Point journey ultimately lead?  Every graduate has a unique journey and destination for high school that reflects their ever-evolving interests and talents.  High Point graduates earn multiple acceptances and matriculate to a wide variety of exceptional independent high schools.  More importantly, our graduates ultimately matriculate to high schools that are the very best fit for who they are.  As such, our graduates thrive in high school—academically,  as leaders, and as collaborators, consensus builders, and pillars of character who make their mark in countless ways.

2018 marked another banner year for 8th grade High Point graduates in terms of high school acceptances and matriculation. Our 39 graduates are attending a total of 16 different high schools.  High Point students earned a 100% acceptance rate at the following high schools: La Salle, Maranatha, St. Francis, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, and Mayfield Senior representing a total of 53 applications.

Over the past four years, two-thirds of High Point graduates matriculated to one of four high schools: LaSalle, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, Flintridge Prep, and St. Francis.  Another 23% attended Loyola High School, Poly, Maranatha, Mayfield Senior, or Westridge. Of the remaining ten percent, three percent went to Harvard-Westlake and Webb, and the remaining seven percent are spread among the fine public high schools in our area, including Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACSHA), California School for the Arts (CSArts), and San Marino, La Canada, South Pasadena, and Monrovia High Schools.

Remarkably, our 2018 graduating class was offered 20 merit-based scholarships with a combined value of more than $700,000 over the course of students’ high school careers. These scholarships are based on academic prowess and performance.  Over half the members of a local high school’s academic decathlon team that competes across the  globe, are High Point graduates.  Another high school’s student council leadership team is heavily represented with High Point alumni.  These results do not occur merely by chance and happenstance.  They occur because our students, teachers, staff, and community live and breathe High Point’s mission.  These results are above all else a testament to our students’ commitment and hard work and to the dedication, caring, and instructional talents of their teachers at High Point.  These results demonstrate the coming to fruition of High Point’s kindergarten-8th grade commitment to academic excellence and character.  These results unequivocally show that the journey at High Point is the perfect foundation to help our graduates excel in high school.

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Finding the best fit high school requires a collaborative partnership and a deliberate and an ongoing process of communication between High Point and each graduate’s family.  Cultivating a deep understanding of each graduate from a holistic perspective–academic, social, ethical, and physical–rests at the core of this process.

High Point provides a number of significant points of contact to help guide families throughout the process, beginning with an informational overview meeting for parents in the spring of the seventh-grade year. This informational meeting is conducted by the 8th Grade Dean, Colleen Zeiss, who diligently and capably oversees the high school guidance and admissions process, and myself (Head of School).  Colleen Zeiss and I share our pearls of wisdom and years of experience in high school placement and knowledge of the local private high school options.  Importantly, we also invite two consultants with over fifty years experience in private school admissions and placement to discuss such topics as the admissions timeline, how to select best fit schools, the high school application process, standardized testing, interviewing strategies and techniques, financial aid, and making the final matriculation decision.

Early in the fall of the 8th grade year, the 8th Grade Dean and I hold a follow-up informational meeting with parents to discuss the high school admissions process in greater depth.  At this time, the two consultants on private school admissions and placement once again share their expertise and valuable insight with 8th grade families.

I invite parents of graduating families to meet with me individually to discuss various high school options.  As Head of School, this connection point is pivotal in helping me gain a deeper understanding of each child that only a parent can provide, particularly as I prepare to write letters of recommendation designed to capture the uniqueness and essence of each graduate. During this meeting, we discuss important topics such as student’s academic strengths and passions, extracurricular interests, distinguishing qualities and talents that make her/him stand out as someone special.

Significantly, parents and students meet individually in early November of the 8th grade year with the 8th Grade Dean to further discuss, clarify, and solidify the high school options that could be an optimal fit for each student.  High Point students are highly sought after.  High Point’s administration and 8th Grade Dean maintain a strong, long-standing professional partnership with the admissions offices at the excellent private high schools in the community.  We are fortunate that admissions officers, accompanied by recent High Point graduates from over fifteen local private high schools, visit High Point in the fall (September, October, and November) to provide a compelling overview of their schools.

High Point carves out time during the school day (called Common Time) for these high school presentations.  Additionally, Common Time is utilized to enable 8th graders to practice interviewing skills, work on high school applications, hone their essay writing, and to help prepare for the high school entrance exams (the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) or the High School Placement Test (HSPT)). Beyond this preparation at school, High Point eighth graders are invited to attend special visitation and shadow days at the various local high schools.

Confident.  Caring.  Capable.   Three words capture the essence of a High Point graduate.  The high school admissions process represents a culmination of High Point’s kindergarten-8th grade journey.  At the end of this process, all of our graduates matriculate to high schools aligned with who they are both as a scholar and a citizen.  Every High Point Eagle graduate is prepared to be the best version of themselves, to carve their own path, to create their own unique definition of continuous fulfillment and success, and to soar ever higher in high school and beyond.

For further details about High Point matriculation, please click here.

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