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Junipero Serra High School

Private | 9-12 | 856 students


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Living in San Mateo

Situated in an urban neighborhood. The median home value is $609,000. The average monthly rent for a 2 bedroom apartment is $1,860.

Source: Sperling's Best Places
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4 stars

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18 reviews of this school

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Posted December 5, 2013

We sent our 3rd son to Serra and wish we'd sent the other two. The oldest attended another all boys school in San Jose and our brilliant middle attended a rigorous public high school on the mid peninsula where he as neither challenged or held to a higher work ethic. # 3 is neither an athlete or a huge honors student, but he still is getting the attention he needs and the school is very proactive about communicating their high academic expectations in a supportive way. In the last four years, Serra has worked very hard to up its academic game and frankly it's nice to be at a school where family wealth and who is flying in a private jet are not the primary topics among the students, teachers and administrators. Our neighbor had the choice of attending any of the private high schools on the peninsula and San Jose and he chose Serra because he thought the kids were the most down to earth. And believe you me, he is challenged in his honors classes. Don't listen to the naysayers. Check it out yourself.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted August 6, 2013

If you are not an athlete on the Football, Baseball or Basketball team or they haven't decided you are an Honors student you will be treated like a second class student. The parents are really cliquish. If you are not in the "in crowd" you will be ignored.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted May 30, 2013

The Good: Serra has a committed athletics program to the big booster sports and a loyal following. Now for the bad - Serra's academics are sub-par. I've sent a few of my boys through this school and it's changed. They are helping me write this review as it's gotten really bad at Serra. First of all, they are about a decade behind in technology. Have you seen their computer lab? One-to-one devices? They are lagging behind even the public schools let alone private schools. Their leadership administration is stuck in the past in their old ways. Michael Peterson cared about the growth of the school even if he himself was old school. But the new Dean Strange and the principal Thornton are all talk, all politician, and no substance from my time spent talking with them. I talked to a few teachers and they are MAD at these folks. I have a few friends who have taught and coached my sons and they all say that it's not a great place to work under these clowns. Now, boys are taking video up teacher's skirts here? No respect for Serra anymore. I transferred my son to a public school....he said it's much tougher academically! Don't overpay for Serra's just not worth it.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted May 22, 2013

Excellent high school! I received a great education here and grew as a young man. Everything they offer - academics, campus ministry, athletics, etc. - was top notch. I am a proud Serra alumnus and I recommend it to everyone who has boys considering Catholic high school.

Posted March 15, 2013

sorry excuse for a high school. the teachers staff and adults who are in charge mess young men up
—Submitted by a teacher

Posted September 15, 2012

The overall quality is not too bad, teachers are rather friends. But it might not be a prior choice for students who are strong in academic. Over restricting students for possibly lowered pass rate. Required "elective" courses waste a lot of time. However, it's also a place to learn time management and improve self-study skills for students who are really self-motived. The rate is for course-selecting system.
—Submitted by a student

Posted August 13, 2012

The tuition is an incredible amount of money for the academic and extra-curricular experience Serra provides. Local public school provide a better academic experience. The athletics programs appear to be driven by deep pockets and alumni connections rather than on each student's skills and talents. Looking forward to having my child move back to the public school system.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted March 5, 2012

Excellent high school which has a fantastic Academic Resource Center for those boys who have been diagnosed with learning differences. The boys are taught to advocate for themselves and are given accommodations to level the playing field. The most common learning difference is dyslexia. While having dealt with the horror of the public schools which sweep everything under the rug, Serra actually tries to help all students be successful. I give them an A+ for helping the LD students. I would highly recommend this school to any parent of a child with language based learning differences.

Posted August 25, 2010

Junipero Serra High school is a one stop education investment for your children. Excellent academic standards; combined with unequaled arts, music and sports program; and backed by strong faith and spiritual foundation. From the principal to the maintenance staff, the discipline and care for children are astounding. A school that supports the less privileged, but deserving students. I am very glad that our family is a part of this community.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted February 17, 2010

I went to Serra. I hated it. The local public schools offer a more academically rigorous program. Serra only cares about its atheletes and donors.

Posted July 28, 2009

Worked hard to send my boys to Serra. Paid off. They learned early that if you want something you will have to work hard to get it. Wish all kids could go to Serra.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted January 17, 2009

Rather overrated. My kids spent two years at Serra, went to Carlmont and had difficulty with the rigor of the curriculum.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted July 19, 2008

Outstanding academics, extra-curricular activities and camaraderie. The editor of the New York Times went here, as well as Tom Brady, Barry Bonds, Lynn Swann and many other great athletes. But beyond the victories and championships, what it most important is the sense of brotherhood and sportsmanship taught by such men as football coach Patrick Walsh. The spirit of the students is unique and passed down from generation to generation - it is unsinkable and awe-inspiring at times. The faculty and parents go the extra yard and then some to help make this a special place - as facility upgrades in recent years have proven. There is nothing like being a Serra Padre ... for life. I still follow the school's athletic fortunes on and

Posted February 28, 2007

Excellent character development. Outstanding athletic and extracurricular opportunities. There is a sense of pride about the school that ties generations of alumni together. Serra is a rare place in today's education market.
—Submitted by a former student

Posted March 10, 2005

Excellent academics and sports programs.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted January 28, 2005

Great school I'll send my kids there!
—Submitted by a parent

Posted April 26, 2004

I attended Serra as did my 2 sons & 2 nephews. Dynamic character building school stressing ethics and friendship among fellow students. Good college preperatory where you'll make friends for life. Extremely competetive athletic activities & high level of school spirit. 2 Superbowl MVP's & Barry Bonds among others.
—Submitted by a former student

Posted August 10, 2003

I attended Serra High School for, four years. Great education, great enviorment, and an amazing staff.
—Submitted by a former student

Community ratings and reviews do not represent the views of GreatSchools nor does GreatSchools check their accuracy or verify the reviewers' identities. Use your discretion when evaluating these reviews.

About these ratings

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.

We currently do not have any test score information for this school. Unlike public schools, private schools are not always required to report data about their schools or not required to take the same tests as public schools. Many private schools take different standardized tests; however, that information is often made available only to families of enrolled students. We strive to acquire additional private school data whenever available.

Student ethnicity

Ethnicity This school State average
White 65% 26%
Two or more races 11% 3%
Asian or Pacific Islander 10% 11%
Hispanic 10% 52%
Black 2% 6%
Hawaiian Native/Pacific Islander 2% 1%
American Indian/Alaska Native 0% 1%
Source: NCES, 2011-2012

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Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM)

School facilities
  • Computer lab
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School basics

School Leader's name
  • Dr. Barry Thornton
  • All boys
  • Roman catholic
  • NCEA


Specific academic themes or areas of focus

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  • Religious


School facilities
  • Computer lab
  • Library
Partnerships with local resources and organizations
  • Archdiocese of San Francisco
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451 West 20th Avenue
San Mateo, CA 94403
Phone: (650) 345-8207


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