Old Orchard School was a wonderful community for both of my children. The challenging academics in a nurturing environment enabled my children to thrive socially, emotionally, and academically. My children developed excellent study habits, confidence in sports, public speaking and presentation skills. They were well prepared for high school testing into honors classes, including Honors III Spanish. They remain close friends with classmates even several years after graduation. I highly recommend this school.
The two positive stars are for the upper school. Most of the kids at Old Orchard get into their first choice of high school and they manage it without the high pressure you get from many other private schools. If your child is well behaved, checks all the right boxes and can teach themselves to read then they will probably do well. However, the lower school is another story and receives 2 negative stars. There is quite a lot of ineffectual homework given - same math and spelling worksheets every single day. Reading is barely taught (to the point that parents are now introducing a parent led and paid for reading supplement in order for the kids to at least be listened to read each day), unqualified teacher, inexperienced lower school principal. Employment at the school seems to be based on who you are related to or know, rather than who is best for the job. At the tuition level they charge you should expect the best qualified and experienced teachers you can get..not so at Old Orchard lower school. The last negative star is for the lack of facilities in the lower school where any improvements are paid for by the parents in addition to the high tuition. Unsafe campus.
Pro: Mostly excellent teachers, high academics, parent community is welcoming (although most aren't around much as most of us have to both work due to tuition cost). Good after school options Con: High tuition, inexperienced lower school principal that doesn't seem to like children, terrible grounds that can't really be improved upon as it is rented from church, areas that can be improved is mostly paid for by parents (playground resurfacing, mimio's in classroom), some unqualified teachers, unsafe campus in that anyone is able to walk onto or off the campus from campbell avenue.
My kids started here this year in 2nd and 3rd grades. The entire school and parent community was extremely welcoming. We have been so happy with the academics -- and the creative way that they teach subjects to make the content more memorable and interesting. In addition there is excellent art and drama classes. A wonderful, well-rounded education and warm, supportive environment. What more could you want?
I have had two kids go through Old Orchard and I have been beyond pleased with the results. One highlight is that the classes stress interdisciplinary learning. For example, in first grade each child writes an "I Have a Dream" speech in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King. After about a week of working on their speech and painting a watercolor portrait of Dr. King, each child gets up and delivers their speech to the class. So they are writing, doing public speaking, learning art techniques, and learning about civil rights - all at once. In fourth grade the kids learn about California history and go panning for gold. In older grades, the kids learn about fossils and bones and go on an archaeological dig. They also take classes in video editing and robotics and programming, and each child programs their own Android app. Talk about good career training! Finally, the teachers are top-notch and the classes are small, so each child gets loads of personal attention. I highly recommend this school.
I transferred my 2 children into this school from another private school. It's academically head and shoulders above the others. They're both at the middle school now and they LOVE it, even with a heavy workload. The teachers clearly enjoy what they do and care about each child. The only real "drama" that occurs is in their excellent drama program. The children who come through Old Orchard are confident, well spoken, very well prepared for HS and very kind to each other. We're so thrilled to have made the move and grateful that this kind of education is available.
I have 2 kids at Old Orchard. What I like most is that the school offers an excellent education in an incredibly warm environment. The academics at the school are top notch, yet the school is very "whole child" focused. The kids have drama, art and music several times throughout the week. Same with PE. And they get Spanish daily. Some classrooms even have gardens where the kids plant fruits and veggies. There are also lots of field trips - to see plays, to go to museums, to go to farms, etc. In the older grades, the kids go on an archaeological dig. There is also a strong character development component to the school. The kids learn, from early on, how to be good citizens of the world. The school also has a strong anti-bullying program. The parent community is very kind and open and welcoming. There are no cliques. There are plenty of opportunities to help out at school, but you don't have to help out at all if you don't want. There is no fundraising, and no mandatory service hours. Basically, you can be as involved or univolved as you like. Finally, the afterschool program is amazing. Classes include piano, dance, drama, sports, video production, playwriting, and robotics.
Academically, this school is well above others. My child transferred to this school after attending another private school and the curriculum was 6-12 months ahead of the other school. Socially, it is a bit of a manufactured environment in that the school is very small with only high functioning bright children attending. There does not seem to be any bullying, fighting or drama and all the children are polite and well behaved. If you child starts Old Orchard early enough to get used to the fast pace of learning, they will be successfull. However, if you are transferring in, you should be prepared for an adjustment in expectations. This school gives an enormous amount of feedback to the children and the homework at the Upper School level is very intense and may be stressfull for some children if they are not used to the volume.
My kids love this school. I remember not wanting to even go to school, they can't wait. It is a very small school where everybody knows everybody, which I think really helps the kid's self esteem. The academics are advanced but that is what private school is for. Totally recommended!
I LOVE Old Orchard. My kids go there and they love it, too. What a wonderful community!
This is a gem of a school with a warm, wonderful community. Academics are solid, and they're rounded out by an amazing enrichment program with art, music, theater, Spanish, and computers. Great teachers and staff who really know the kids' individual personalities and offer tremendous support. The only downside is tuition, which is awfully high.
The school is absolutely amazing. My kid is second year in this school. She has picked up so much on her confidence. She keeps bring us surprise not only on the academic side, but also the social skills. I have talked quite a few parents with kids in different grade. We are all amazed. How can the kids learn at such a unbelievable speed without feeling any stress? My girl loves to finish her light homework everyday. This is absolutely an excellent school with reasonable price.
Small personalize school with an academic focus. Both of my children have thrived at this school where the teachers know every child by name. In addition, since it is small, they have participated in the after school sports programs where they likely would not have at a larger school. My son graduated from the school in 07 and found the transition to a large private High School very easy - academics were what he was use to and easily made new friends. I highly recommend this school.
Old Orchard is a warm, parent and student friendly school. I love their approach to education - very high academic levels achieved through an exciting and engaging teaching style. I agree that education isn't (and shouldn't be) all about fun but if the students are engaged and find the subject matter fascinating (due to teacher's attention-grabbing presentation), if the teachers are enthusiastic about what they are doing, the children are more likely to truly enjoy school. My 1st grader LOVES school (including homework!). The teachers are highly experienced, very well educated, and love to teach and it shows. The only minus I find with the school is their tuition which keeps rising from year to year. It would be terribly unfortunate if we are forced to leave Old Orchard.
Parent input does not count at this school. Unless you have the money, then your child get free reign in the class and the playground. There is no consistent application of rules. Most subjects are not taken seriously by the teachers.
This is a great school --- both academically and in social development. The teachers and administrators pay special attention to small details and although the tuition may be high, there is no mandatory fund raising. The children learn to do fund raising for a humanitarian need, such as undeveloped countries, St. Jude's Children Hospital, Cancer/Leukemia, etc.
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The Community Rating is the school’s average rating from its community members (e.g., parents, students, and school staff). The highest possible rating is five stars; the lowest is one star.
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