How to Choose a High School

Good grief, where did the time go? Not so long ago I held him in my arms, our second bundle of joy (boy), and in a few months time he will be off to High School.

The school of our choice held his Open House on Tuesday – we joined in and wanted to be reassured of our choice ( i.e. swept off our feet).

The first time I attended an Open House was back in Holland. Over there we had our personal guide, a young men neatly dressed in school colours, clipboard in hand. He accompanied us through the massive building with well rehearsed explanations and answers to our various questions.

That was then, this is now:

Instead of the above we experienced creative chaos – and we both loved every minute of it! Upon arrival we were briefed and instructed on what was going on at what time. Complete with floor plan in hand we set out to find our way through the maze called Garibaldi High School.

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Let me tell you, they wowed us. Our son was so impressed by all the fun, noise, exhibitions and lockers, he thought he landed in an act straight out of “The High School Musical”. Here’s a way to sell your school: sing, dance, be merry and make sure the staff is not only friendly, but ueber- friendly. To me, every Garibaldi student that night did their own personal best to let their school shine in the brightest light!

Have you ever been serenaded by guitar players on route to peek into different class rooms? How about coming across the choir on your way to the lab? If music wasn’t enough to lure us, their chocolate truffles -made by the schools own chef- did it for me. For good measure I accepted the Japanese tea plus a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Our son was also smitten by the idea of getting proper cooking classes (finally!). The teacher let us taste oven warm pretzels and reassured him that “Girls like boys who know how to cook!”  Well put lady!

With our tummies full of food and hot beverages we watched a dance performance, listened to the jazz band,and watched a play rehearsal. In the biology department our junior got acquainted with a stick insect and fiddled vital organs back into the dummy.

Did we have a good time? You bet we did. When we had to leave I was so psyched, I wanted to put my name down to start High School all over again!

You see, unlike Germany or Holland, High Schools in North America are differentiated only by their main focus points e.g. IT, sports, drama and arts, French emersion, and not by their academic levels. We in Germany have three different types of High Schools: One for the academically challenged (Hauptschule), one for the middle of the road attendees (Realschule) and one for the future elite (Gymnasium). A nationwide test at the age of 10 seals our fate as future labourers, office clerks or possible university graduates.

Not here! Our son only has to worry about if he wants to graduate from a High School known for their fantastic arts and drama program! .

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To apply or not to apply depends on two basic, easy questions: How far is the school from our home and is there a school bus on offer?

For us, the answers are ‘not too far’ and yes’! Therefore: He will apply! Why make the decision harder than it needs to be?




8 thoughts on “How to Choose a High School

  1. You said it. Love america high school. Here in holland after elementary school a child has an academic label already. Have fun in high school I sure did.!

  2. Dominic couldn’t believe our system either, but as always, there are good and bad things to say about each system. Here, the teachers don’t believe in holding a child back- i.e. to let them repeat a grade! Go figure! And thanks, I am pretty sure our son will have fun!

  3. Our son needed to re-do second grade. His reading skills were not where they needed to be. He was devastated at 7 years old. He is now 35 and a very respected Engineer, having both BCIT and UBC degrees. Makes more than I do.

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