Our son started GCA in the 7th grade. He is now in 9th grade. He never tested into an honors class in elementary school. We are happy to report that he is flourishing at GCA in academics, athletics, and socially.
At GCA, he is part of a tightly-knit, small group of hard-working children; learning how hard work can help them become successful young adults. GCA prepares them well for any type of university they may attend. After all, they complete the equivalent of more than five high school years in just four years at GCA.
The first semester WAS definitely culture shock. The amount of homework WAS discouraging and overwhelming. It takes a family's support to get a child through unless that child is exceptional. The second semester seems easier because of Winter break and having climbed the learning curve. Each year becomes less of a challenge. When the chips were down, we would offer to move him to another school...but he would refuse.
Yes, this school is for disciplined children; but the parents have to be disciplined as well. Our experience with teachers and staff has been superb. Our son is totally deaf, and "hears" through cochlear implants. That is a challenge unto itself, but each teacher seems to have adapted to his needs well (including wearing a microphone when he's in the class).
If you want a school that offers your child the opportunity to have an "East Coast", first-class, private school education and experience, by all means enter the lottery and see if you can get in. The worst you can do is withdraw and go to a "normal" school, where your child will then be ahead of the game
The amount of busy work there was overwhelming, and I fell behind very quickly. The teachers publicly humiliate you if you do something wrong. I now have a much lower self-esteem and a bad case of paranoia about my teachers hating me if I do one bad thing. Thanks, GCA, you ruined my life, and I am now even more neurotic than I was before I went there. Thank goodness I left.
My daughter just completed her second year at GCA and we absolutely love it there. Before GCA she attended another GPS school and was in the honors program there as well, which technically is the same curriculum. However, the learning environment is so much better at GCA. Teachers are available daily to assist before and after school with concepts and homework. I never had to wait more than 24 hours to hear back from a teacher. At the other school it usually took more than 2 weeks and even then they were not available for help. My daughter has been very happy and we enjoy the small school atmosphere. I don't believe every child would excel at GCA, but they are given the opportunity. If you child is focused, goal oriented, and disciplined this school will be a perfect fit. The only drawback is the old campus and facilities that are not meeting the needs of the school anymore.
Pretentiousness over rigor. A lack of cohesive policies among teachers who add homework online at night and assign un-vetted online programs: poor planning and lack of organization among people we are meant to trust with our brightest students. Successful here are those best prepared to jump through unnecessary hoops, teach themselves (the math department is a particular mess), and stay up late deciphering the vagaries of the latest program (not due to the material but because the program was neither tested nor modeled). Such students succeed anywhere. Especially laughable - despite taking only honors/AP classes (this being "normal" at GCA), students' scores are not weighted like their counterparts elsewhere. GCA students receive lower GPAs than those taking identical classes in the same district! 1:1 technology is more trouble than it s worth and does nothing to alleviate textbook burden. Having technology vs. using it to efficiently support education is not a distinction GCA has mastered. Music/sports are bright spots. These coaches encourage the kind of spirit expected from the education GCA lauds, perhaps being more prone to care about growth of the whole student.
I am a student at this school and I would describe the school as not as good as they advertise it to be. I am a good student and wanted to get a head start when starting college so I enrolled in this school. Most teachers are decent but some teachers are terrible. For example one of my teachers corrects homework while we are teaching notes which sometimes leads to us not finishing our notes and having to do homework we haven't been taught. Everything about this school is above average but not any better than a decent public school. What sets this school apart is the fact that student are given lots of homework and the student's there are exceptionally smart. Many parents put smart kids in this school because it is a "good school". Also tons of kids who can't deal with the homework leave after 8th grade to go to another school. This smart kids left inflate GCA's test grades. You could easily get an education similar to GCA's by giving your children tons of extra work. If you are thinking about this school I think you should look somewhere else.
Good luck with this school, basically every student cheats on the 3 hours of homework they get. Additionally as of this year, the students are forced to eat inside the cafeteria so as to limit the amount of trash left outside. If your kids go here, they will be treated like kindergartners who have to be monitored constantly, they will all be crammed into a room, even if the maximum occupancy of the room is reached. The students are told that they are "exceeding" in all subjects, however ,when you compare the AP test scores of all the other schools in the valley, i'ts easy to see that they aren't any better than the neighboring high schools. This review doesn't even really matter because the school will probably be closed by the end of the 2015-2016 school year, if not earlier. I took my child out of this school because its is just ridiculously over rated. If you plan on putting your child in this school, I'm begging you to reconsider.
Our hopes for a "classical" school were dashed. We expected Latin education, the Socratic method used through much of the instruction, history taught four years in high school, and rhetoric. Unfortunately, you don't have the opportunity for Latin in high school. Latin 1, 2 are only offered in junior high. History is not taught in 9th gr. Socratic method was scarcely used. Group projects were overused. The school appears to be high performing, but it's not due to the material they present or how they teach. Instead, the school benefits by being full of students who would normally excel at any high school.Students who endure the ridiculous amount of unnecessary homework succeed. It's normal for students to spend all day in school and all evening doing homework.There's a false assumption: many assignments plus many hours of homework equals success. This school model is not conducive to long term retention of the information learned, nor is it "classical". The administration was not open to feedback. Most disturbing is the "Springboard" English program. The student's literary experience no longer includes reading complete novels, just segments of books. This is not classical education