Polaris K12 absolutely amazes me.
It's not often you find a school this tight-knit, and it's definitely not often you find teachers that teach so well. The staff takes a different approach on learning- everybody is treated with the sort of peer-to-peer interaction, even the teachers, so everybody gets the opportunity to learn and teach. I must say that having no grades in elementary really hinders more than it helps, since students aren't sure what to work on, but it's made up for by the dedication the teachers have and the creative, innovative way of teaching.
Students here are friendly and involved in both community service AND events around the school. You'll see quite a few gifted students, students that earn prominent awards, AMAZING writers, and kids that are more mature than their ages suggest. Of course, with every school, there are a few bad apples- but Polaris is open and tolerant to most every person.
Students also get to learn at their own pace! If a class is too easy, a seventh grader could potentially move up to a high school class, provided they have the skills and the time. If a class is too hard, the teachers WILL make sure the material given is well understood.
This is a gorgeous school! My time here has been AMAZING and I intend to stay until graduation.
My children have been at Polaris for over ten years. We've been very happy with the small, family type atmosphere. Middle School starts in 6th grade, giving a year of "practice" which was good for both my kids. My eldest was a pro by the time she hit 9th grade! The academics are advanced, in part due to the six weeks of intensives for the secondary students. I believe that the intensives are well worth it though, with my children learning to do things that I could not have taught them (backpacking, kayaking, vaudeville plays, mosaic-making, biotapp) There are no official school sports, however, kids join other school teams, and can pick the school they want to play for. This is a great way to expand their social circle. The parents carpool, and when kids get licensed, they often drive themselves. Sometimes a staff member is hired who doesn't quite "fit", sometimes we lose an excellent one. Parent involvement ebbs and flows. The staff really care about the kids. With eight "hours" of class each day, plus intensives, there's a possible total of 8 1/2 credits earned per year. Most kids are college-ready by the end of 11th grade. We have the best graduation ceremonies!
I first entered Polaris as a kindergartener in the fall of 1999, in the old building. As a lifelong Polarian I have had a very sheltered life from regular, larger public high schools, which I have never regretted. The academics are rather advanced and intensives have always been fun. In elementary we never got grades, which I always looked at as a plus. We had portfolios in which we put samples of our work in and evaluated ourselves on a number of things from our work ethic to our relations with other students. Our teachers would also evaluate us. Usually with a system of numbers 1-4; 1 being needs improvement and 4 being excellent. When middle school starts one starts getting grades, and they work well for the older students. There are only so many teachers, though, which means that you get your basic courses and a few speciality courses and a very accelerated math program. Quite a few students such as myself must take math courses at other schools to fit their needs. Polaris has a superb drama department, which I have been an active member of since seventh grade. And though there is no organized sport, we do have a fabulous ballroom dance club.
Polaris K-12 is an extremely hands on type of learning. It involves high levels of participation from the parents/ guardian. Being a student there I have to say that the teachers are a bit difficult and require a lot of one on one confrontation with students and parents. The school does not offer sports, but you can enroll in an alternate school sport program. It s not a bad school but I don t seem to like it. It s not for me but can be a perfect school depending on how you deal with academics. The learning program is an advanced program with advanced curriculum. What would be pre-algebra there would be algebra A-B at another school. You still learn the material that s required but Polaris has a high standard and it may not be for you. Its high pace. Three times a year Polaris holds these things called intensives that last as long as two to three weeks. These intensives focus on one area to learn such as history backpacking kayaking, science art, dance, etc.
It is like a family, guiding, teaching, and giving wonderful learning opportunities, both in the classroom and in the wider community and the world to students, teachers, and parents. Parental involvement is high. Our goal is to promote lifelong learning among all members of the community.
Have a step son in polaris and my husband and I are VERY disappointed in Polaris all around. He gets NO grades to be able to determine his progress. His homework papers come back with nothing checked and wrong answers leaving our son believing his wrong answer is correct. The entire school is very narrow minded to blended familys. People come and go with no problems. A person can enter the school take a child and not be stopped or even noticed. Our son is only going there because we can not pull him out. His mom quotes the same thing we heard at open house 'Polaris is the number 1 school'. Open house felt like a sales pitch.
My children attended Polaris for many years but within the past couple the feel of the school has changed. The 'new' school (remodeled) is very nice and comfortable but the overall leadership has shifted. There is a much more punitive than in the past and sometimes seems that there is an over-reaction to situations. The principal is good but involved in lots of external events leaving the running of the school to the VP. School has lost a lot of it's former flexibility and creativity. It is becoming more of a regular public school just smaller with less curriculum choices and no sports. Polaris has begun to lose it's uniqueness. Even the students don't appear as cohesive as they once were.
I started at Polaris when I was in 8th grade. My first day was during intensives, and I was automatically welcomed to sit at a table with people I did not know. I was very happy, and I made so many new friends in only the first few days at school. I do think the math program could be worked on a bit, and there can be quite a lot of homework assigned, but the teachers are very helpful if you are having trouble understanding an assignment. At Polaris, you have so much freedom, unlike most other schools. The intensives are wonderful, as well as the occasional picnics, carnivals, and dances. I am very glad to be at Polaris. It is a fantastic school.