This is my daughter's first year at Challenge (2nd grade) and so far we are so glad she was accepted into such a great school. I read some of the reviews about the application process and that it is unfair. I did not find this to be true. We applied for K and 1st grade. My daughter scored well on the tests and did not get a spot, but when there is a limited number of spots available, it happens. This year we were put on a wait list again, but a spot became available and we "won" it in the lottery pool of qualified applicants. It can't get much more fair than that, in my opinion. So far our kiddo is doing really well and her teachers have made sure she is comfortable and adjusts well. The opportunities given to expand young minds in the extracurricular activities, mini courses, and immersion weeks are just wonderful! I love that there are required family service hours to keep us all involved as part of a school community. Really excited for our future at this school!
A school for the highly gifted and/ or highly motivated, academically advanced student, K-8.... I have 3 sons who have attended this school spanning the past 11 years. I appreciate that the Challenge School has worked with each of them on an individual basis so as to allow for them to reach their highest potential in math, science and language arts. The science and math teachers are second to none!!
I felt I had to enter my own review after reading some of the responses here. I have had two children (a male and a female so I got to see both perspectives) go through Challenge from K-8th grade. I can tell you for a fact that I did not have enough money to offer a "donation" bribe, and feel that although rigorous the application process is fair and understandable. Challenge was a fantastic experience for both kids, and provided a great foundation for their future. My eldest is graduating from the International Baccalaureate program this Spring, and felt that Challenge provided the good habits and academic background necessary to achieve this goal. As far as the "bullying" and "self-harm", I have been a member of this community for 13 years and through multiple principals and team changes, and have neither seen this as a major problem nor ever experienced a time when the staff was unresponsive to serious issues. No school is perfect, but the times when I have seen issues come up they have been handled promptly and professionally. Challenge has been a real blessing for my children, and provides a unique opportunity for gifted students. I wish the school continued success.
My child entered this school in 5th grade as an extremely advanced, self-assured individual. In four years time this well-adjusted young adult fell to modestly advanced/proficient (according to TCAP scores) and became severely emotionally distraught. There was tremendous pressure at this school on many levels (not just academic). I would liken it to a pressure cooker. As a result, there was a significant problem with self-harm, especially in the higher grades (fortunately, my child did not resort to this) which was all but ignored. Bullying was also a major problem but is much more insidious and manipulative than you will find at most middle schools (these are gifted children, after all). My child was bullied excessively and sought help from teachers and the administration on many occassions (to no avail). When my child fought back physically (after months of abuse) she received a ridiculously harsh punishment while the perpetrator received a slap on the wrist. Does this school provide challenging curriculum, yes. Will it be the right fit for every gifted learner, most definitely not. Please just do your homework and ask lots of questions before you commit to this school.
I am a parent to three current Challenge students and we have been a member of the Challenge community since 2006. I can gauranteed you that we have not made or been expected to make any sizeable donation to the school. Challenge is a unique and special community and admission to the school is not purely based upon test scores. I believe that Challenge embraces its standing as an IB school equally with being a gifted school. In my opinion, in order to be accepted, you must fit well as a gifted learner and an IB learner. The staff is wonderful and they try to do what they believe is best for the students. Unfortunately, based on size and popularity alone, there would be no way to accept all the students who wish to attend.
I agree with the parent about unfairness of the application process. It is very unclear who gets in. Gossip around town is that you have to offer a good donation to be considered. I tried to get my two children in 4 years apart. They both scored high in IQ tests, got in in advanced kindergarten in two districts, early entrance in one, admitted to another gifted school in Aurora, but not in Challenge. No wonder I asked the question how that is possible.
Re: 2/1/2013 post about application process: As a teacher who is part of the application process at Challenge each year, I have to say this post is incredibly inaccurate. Teachers spend literally hours examining the entire application, and test scores, work samples, student and parent questionnaires are all given a thorough examination during the process. No one part of the application means more than the others. Please consider the efforts expended by staff to make this process transparent and fair, as we are all working for the best for each student. Challenge is an outstanding school, and I am proud to be part of such a dynamic and hard working staff.
When u apply to Challenge they go by the teacher's recommendation(most teachers don't have the time to fill out a 4 page application that is pretty long ). They filter the candidates and select the ones with a good recommendation. In my opinion it is not a fair process, every child should be interviewed and tested for their talent. The child's future is in the hands of the recommending teacher and in most cases the teacher recommending may not even check the questions on the form to see if the child knows it.. Even though they say it is overall scoring i thinks its disappointing when they don't even give your child a fair interview after u spend hours filling out an appplication and getting the recommendation letters. I am not happy with the selection process. Its just not fair!
I am so blessed to have found this school for my children! We were paying private school tuition until we found out there was a public school doing better work for kids than our private school was - and without all of the silly politics you find at private schools. We are grateful to the outstanding principal and staff for such a wonderful school for our children.
I am an eighth grader at Challenge, and this is my ninth year. I have loved every second at this school! The atmosphere is great, the students are excellent, well-rounded people (contrary to some inaccurate allegations, incidents of self harm and bullying are almost nonexistent, even among the older kids), the teachers are intelligent and caring, and the academics are challenging and fun. The courseload and homework are manageable and simulating. The Challenge school environment is unforgettable, and i would recommend it for anyone who likes to learn.
An incredible learning environment for the academically motivated child! The faculty quickly learned each of my 3 children's learning styles and 'challenged' them to succeed. I love that they are graded on the whole child, and that their self esteem is bolstered in every way. The principal is amazing, as she began her Challenge School career as one of the first teachers. I sleep well at night knowing that my children are getting everything they need during the 7 hours they are away from home!!
good school with good location. close to home and work. my kids go here and will stay here until 9th grade.
I am so very fortunate to have had 2 children obtain their education at this school. It is truly excellent!!
Challenge school has been great for me I have learned so much. However, I never really learned ti spell, the only clubs are chess and math clubs, and your with the same 50 kids all of your school. Since I started in kindergarden, I am looking forward to highschool. Challenge school is a great school.
We have an 8th grader at CS. We have loved it from day one. From the nurturing environment to the excellent curriuclum, we have but raves for this school. Yes, sports activities are sadly absent, but I would enroll my other children any day at CS.
I am a 7th grader and I have gone to this school since kindergarden, I must say that I love it. All of the teachers are incredible and my fellow students are kind courteous. Sadly, there are no extra-curricular sports activities.
This is a great school! I am a 7th grader and I've gone here since 2nd grade. I am ahead in all of my classes and this school has helped me so much throughout the years. Most students don't enjoy our school because it's not like a normal middle school but socially it's not bad. Going to high school will be a big change but it's worth it because the school is just wonderful.
I am a parent of 2 in the Challenge School and I love it as well as my 3rd and 8th grader. It is an incredible school. The teachers are the best! They are caring and they know every student well, they get to have them 2 consecutive years. The students in the whole school get to know each other, too. Because of the mini courses and the immersion week, every fall and spring, very fan program, where you get to choose what you want to study for a week. If you like to be challenge and have high goals and expectations; as well as an interest on been involved with their education, you'll love this school. The staff and students are like a great big family. The principal knows everyone's name. They have a great spirit and they care for the community. Your kids will love!
I just finished 8th grade at Challenge. It's an excellent school academically. The math program is great. As a member of the math team, I can say we do very well in math contests on a regional, state, and national level. However, the school is really small. Our graduating class of '07 only had 73 people. You don't get very many chances to meet somebody new. The lack of PE, Art, Technology, and Music classes is also a minus. The 7th and 8th graders don't get any of those, and the 5th and 6th graders (to the best of my knowledge) only get PE and Art. Even though I have been critisizing it, it's a great school. It's very safe, you learn a lot, and it's fun.
Challenge School truly sets the standard for others to follow. My kid is a chess whiz, member of Mensa, and craves challenges. He's been at Challenge School for 3 years and loves it! When he entered kindergarten there (already reading books before entering), it was nice to see that the rest of the kids were all at his level. Each and every kid was already reading, just like him, so he wasn't held back so that others could catch up, learn the alphabet, phonics, whatever. This included math and number sense as well. In all subjects, the kids are at least 1 grade level, if not 2 grade levels ahead. This school is a perfect fit for any parent who has a child who is ahead of their game. Challenge School is a magnet school and a public school at the same time. I cannot say enough good words about it.
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