Columbia High School Thoughts?

birdwatcher

Like so many others, we fell in love with Maplewood and hope to move there so our son can start HS in the fall. We are concerned that there is an "interim" principal that started just a few months ago, who said in an interview that she will be in this position for only a year before moving on. Does anyone know what the plan is for next year (and if there is a long term plan) ? Are parents/students concerned about the lack of a permanent principal? How has this year been going with a temporary replacement?  It's such a big school- it needs someone great (and long term) leading it. Thank you.


susan1014

Since we just hired a new superintendent, a number of key roles were left in the hands of interim personnel to allow him to lead the hiring of his own team.  I’m sure a CHS leader is at the top of his list.

Others will have to answer how it is going at CHS, as I don’t currently have kids there.


Mom270

I have two kids at the high school.  They say they never see the principal.  It is a big change from Elizabeth Aaron, who was very visible and enthusiastic.  There are a lot of interim administrators, including the head of guidance and athletic director. The music program is great and the school plays are outstanding. There are a lot of AP classes if your kids want more challenge.  Unfortunately the elimination of labs and Level 5 science has been really bad for kids who don’t want to take AP science and has made for very dull classes.


birdwatcher

Mom270 said:

I have two kids at the high school.  They say they never see the principal.  It is a big change from Elizabeth Aaron, who was very visible and enthusiastic.  There are a lot of interim administrators, including the head of guidance and athletic director. The music program is great and the school plays are outstanding. There are a lot of AP classes if your kids want more challenge.  Unfortunately the elimination of labs and Level 5 science has been really bad for kids who don’t want to take AP science and has made for very dull classes.

 Thank you for the reply. I have heard many good things about the school from parents with kids there. My only concern is not really knowing what we would be getting in the fall. The amount and significance of the interim positions is a bit alarming- the ones you listed ate soooooooo important in HS. Can I ask what "labs" is?  

Thank you. 


yahooyahoo

The interim principal has been in place since summer 2018.


ctrzaska

This is to be her last year as far as I know, and I would feel comfortable assuming that there will be a permanent replacement in place for 2020/21 and beyond.  Given that, it’s hard to opine on leadership in the current year as any proxy for the future.  


Mom270

Birdwatcher, one of my kids took Level 4 chemistry.  The district eliminated labs, i.e. experiments with beakers,etc. so it was very unlike the chemistry I took in high school and was just memorization.  I think there are labs for AP Chemistry but kid had 3 other AP classes and did not want to take 4 in a year.  It was a very dull class and almost none of the Level 4 chemistry kids took AP Physics the following year.


birdwatcher

Mom270 said:

Birdwatcher, one of my kids took Level 4 chemistry.  The district eliminated labs, i.e. experiments with beakers,etc. so it was very unlike the chemistry I took in high school and was just memorization.  I think there are labs for AP Chemistry but kid had 3 other AP classes and did not want to take 4 in a year.  It was a very dull class and almost none of the Level 4 chemistry kids took AP Physics the following year.

 Thank you for your response. It sounds like you have very bright kids! Overall, have you been happy with the school?


Mom270

My kids seem pretty happy.  They have played sports and enjoy tutoring/mentoring elementary age kids through the Achieve Foundation.  My daughter really likes the diversity of the students.  We have had a mixed bag of teachers from excellent to bad, but that is probably true of many districts.  A highlight of my son’s experience was the music department trip to Disney World last year.  It happens every 4 years.  Many CHS students go on to very good colleges, so that is a good thing.  There are classes in TV production and photography.  I think some of their complaints are mice and bad temperatures in the rooms (too hot or cold). The building is old and many other districts have nicer buildings (i.e. Livingston and Basking Ridge).  Crime can be an issue. 


ctrzaska

Mom270 said:

I think some of their complaints are mice and bad temperatures in the rooms (too hot or cold). The building is old and many other districts have nicer buildings (i.e. Livingston and Basking Ridge). 

Can’t speak to the mice being an issue any longer (haven’t heard either way), but the building itself inside and out including its HVAC systems, plumbing, etc are in line for major repairs in the coming 1-2 yrs. 


iangrodman

Birdwatcher, we have experienced interim administration for a number of years now throughout the district which of course is a concern. We now have a permanent superintendent, and I expect that other interim administrative positions will be filled with permanent replacements over the course of this school year. That being said, I have a college student who attended CHS and another child who is a student there now. CHS has been a good experience for our family. MOST teachers do a good job and are very committed despite an old infrastructure and interim administration. And of course the community support for our students, our teachers, our extracurricular activities, our administration, our athletic teams, etc. are probably second to none. Thats probably why you and your student will both be happy at and thrive at CHS.


DaveSchmidt

birdwatcher said:

It's such a big school- it needs someone great (and long term) leading it.

Yes, it’s big, and one of the common observations on MOL when we moved here with a seventh grader was that Columbia High was excellent for self-motivated students but less attentive to the kids who could use some inspiration, some kind of lift out of anonymity. Years later, with our son now in college, I’d say those comments were pretty accurate.


sac

I’m always interested to hear CHS described as big. The (very highly rated yada yada) high school I attended in a suburban Houston district in the 1970s had about twice as many students and it was the smallest in our school district (which had six high schools total.) Have average school populations gotten smaller over time or is it a characteristic of NJ having so many small districts, that the average size is so much smaller?


DaveSchmidt

Everything’s bigger in Texas.


birdwatcher

Mom270 said:

My kids seem pretty happy.  They have played sports and enjoy tutoring/mentoring elementary age kids through the Achieve Foundation.  My daughter really likes the diversity of the students.  We have had a mixed bag of teachers from excellent to bad, but that is probably true of many districts.  A highlight of my son’s experience was the music department trip to Disney World last year.  It happens every 4 years.  Many CHS students go on to very good colleges, so that is a good thing.  There are classes in TV production and photography.  I think some of their complaints are mice and bad temperatures in the rooms (too hot or cold). The building is old and many other districts have nicer buildings (i.e. Livingston and Basking Ridge).  Crime can be an issue. 

 Thanks for the reply. I am concerned about your reference to crime. In our current district's schools, crime is not much of an issue. I want to make this move so much, but don't want to put my son in a dangerous spot. When you say "crime can be an issue" can you let me know what you mean more specifically? THANK YOU.


max_weisenfeld

Petty theft from gym lockers, mostly


yahooyahoo

sac said:

I’m always interested to hear CHS described as big. The (very highly rated yada yada) high school I attended in a suburban Houston district in the 1970s had about twice as many students and it was the smallest in our school district (which had six high schools total.) Have average school populations gotten smaller over time or is it a characteristic of NJ having so many small districts, that the average size is so much smaller?

Columbia High School is the 41st largest public school (all grade levels included) in the state of NJ out of over 2200 public schools.  It's the 38th largest public high school in NJ.  I found one site that said there are 612 public high schools in NJ so ours is in the top 6% in terms of enrollment.

https://www.publicschoolreview.com/school-size-stats/new-jersey

https://high-schools.com/directory/nj/#:~:targetText=There%20are%20866%20high%20schools,of%20total%20number%20of%20schools.




Mom270

birdwatcher said:

 Thanks for the reply. I am concerned about your reference to crime. In our current district's schools, crime is not much of an issue. I want to make this move so much, but don't want to put my son in a dangerous spot. When you say "crime can be an issue" can you let me know what you mean more specifically? THANK YOU.

 One of my kids was mugged outside of the school.  Not injured, thankfully.  I will say there is crime everywhere.  I remember watching the news after a school shooting in Oregon and a family had moved there from the Bronx thinking Oregon would be a safer place.  You just never know.


birdwatcher

Mom270 said:

 One of my kids was mugged outside of the school.  Not injured, thankfully.  I will say there is crime everywhere.  I remember watching the news after a school shooting in Oregon and a family had moved there from the Bronx thinking Oregon would be a safer place.  You just never know.

 I am sorry to hear that this happened to your child! Was it another CHS student or someone from the outside? Would you say the kids, in general, feel safe at the school? 




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