Our daughter is currently a junior in HS and has attended Convent since Kindergarten. We love the school and feel like it strikes an excellent balance between high academic achievement, teaching appropriate values to the girls, and valuing each child for their individual qualities. As part of the larger Sacred Heart Network, it has a strong, well-defined set of values and it tries to live those values as well as it can. There are some issues with "affluenza" among the students and parents, and I think there is some cattiness and bad behavior among all middle school and high school girls, but I do not feel like the school perpetuates or reinforces this in any way. It tries to counteract this by really living its values. It is going to get through to some kids more than others, in large part, to the extent those values are also taught at home. I am quite certain any parent would be lucky for their child to get a Sacred Heart education.
This school graduated 2 girls to Harvard for 2011 and this speaks to the faculty and the admissions department who selected strong girls that withstood a huge shift in administration their senior year. The community changed dramatically in 2010-11. Many families were caught off guard as policy's changed and some of the best faculty in the city hung on bravely. The new guidelines for students, such as using a ruler to measure between partners at a school dance, and lowering the hemline of the uniform are now priority items. The last week of school many school students left campus in tears when the secret was let out that a much loved employee was told to go quietly. Students and alum posted with over 700 members on a Facebook page during this crisis over the staff member being let go, but similar to Nero playing the violin when Rome burned, nothing was done to help the students or their parents. I would like to respond to previous post about drug use there. The drug use is present, as is alcohol, but in the type of drugs and frequency of use, it's less than other schools in this category. Now with little emotional sensitively to these young women, not so sure what will happen.
Although the academics at CSH are above average and ensure access to some of the best Universities, I do agree with one of the previous posts concerning the ethics and conduct of the students. When I attended CSH elementary and high school there was no drug use or cheating; however girls treated each other abominably and the administration did not condemn this kind of behaviour as reprehensible in fact some faculty even mirrored these actions. This was due in a large part to the enormous wealth of many students and the yearly donations made by their parents to the school. Today the Bay Area now offers a wider choice in academic excellence where civility and consideration for others is fully integrated into the curriculum.
Our daughter graduated in 2006 and is now a junior in college. She had struggled in public middle school. At Convent, which she attended by her preference, she got the mentoring she needed to go from academic mediocrity to being a fine student. The breadth and depth of her academic coursework was superior. The setting was inspiring. She took advantage of many extracurricular opportunities. She finds college easy after Convent. Her professors praise her work ethic. She chose her friends wisely. I would not deny the dark side described by the previous poster exists at Convent but I am not aware of any high school that does not have a dark side for those who are drawn to such things. The dark side did not represent the majority in her class.
Academically I was pleased and surprised by the quality and classicism of the education my daughter received here. She finds college to be easy, her study & writing skills superior, and her general academic knowledge to be comprehensive. But there is a significant and disturbing downside to this school. The ethics and conduct of the students were appalling. With a few exceptions, girls treated each other abominably, engaged in heavy drinking and drug use routinely, cheated on tests and work. The administration is impressive but did not rein this in. The conduct of the students was reprehensible. The enormous wealth of many students seemed to go hand in hand with disinterested if not completely abdicated parenting, ready access to drugs & alcohol, and despite the uniform dress code, out of control focus on designer clothing, jewelry, and accessories.
A CSH education is invaluable. While other private schools offer a solid education, CSH ensures that its students learn various subjects and are exposed to many extracurricular activities whether it's athletics, arts, student government, campus ministry, or the school paper. As an alumnus, I look back on my years at CSH with pride and affection because there is no place quite like CSH.
My children have attended CSH for well over a decade, and I couldn't be more thrilled with the school. My friends are, frankly, disappointed that they made different choices for their teenagers because they were initially put off by the all-girls environment. The 'brother' school, Stuart Hall High School, provides coed interaction in drama, music and sporting, yet my daughters have not been distracted by boys during the school day, helping them to become highly successful students who were accepted to the colleges of their choices through early admissions. I do not agree with the last comment that the quality of students has diminished as I see the opposite to be true, judging from my daughters' friends and the school's extensive Advanced Placement course offerings. Read the school newspaper. It is not only excellent, but it gives you a good sense of the quality of the students, teachers and program.
The academic program in this school is excellent and challenging. Girls who have graduated from this school notice how much more general knowledge they have than their peers who also attended private schools. The curriculum is outstanding. This is a wonderful school, great faculty and beautiful campus with breathtaking views. Although it is a single-sex school, there are constant opportunities to be with the boys and girls of the sister schools that share campus facilities. Biggest drawback is the socio-economic and ethnic lack of diversity. The majority of the students come from the best and richest families in the bay area. When the students leave this privileged setting, they might have to face the real world (or they might just move into another sheltered environment with their college selection). I highly recommend this school.