The academics are great if you want them to be tough, but they also have many levels of each subject for different levels of students. The arts are amazing, the Athletic facilities are new as well as a newer science wing and many other improvements after a big remodeling project. Also the school actually has some diversity found in the real world unlike other schools on the North Shore. From low income to high, some English as a second language students, some children of military families..Other families are professionals and business leaders from Highland Park.
There are many issues with HPHS. #1 is finding a group to be included in if you move to the area in high school. Coming from one of the most diverse schools in Chicago the adjustment was brutal. You do not have a chance at athletics in Highland Park if you are new because it doesn't matter how good you are, if you have not been playing in Highland Park since you were born you will not play. I participated in 2 sports here only to remove myself from the team due to lack of effort by the coaches and the team. There is close to no diversity in the high school. People who have been here their whole life live in a HP bubble and believe the whole world is like Highland Park. There is not one day that I wish I was back in Chicago where I was pushed to be a better student and athlete and loved going to school.
As a college student i look back at my HPHS days and realized this is a very good school. Many teachers are very concerned with students of all levels succeeding. The principal, brad swanson, is a very hands on principal but doesn't force the issue. He will observe teachers and check to make sure if they are feeling overwhelmed, and actually involves himself in the school day. At our graduation he painted an image of my entire senior class by naming students and things he would see them do at sporting events, in the halls, public events, etc. The think that muks the system up however, and why I give the school 4/5 is a small group of parents and their children who will always exist in the community. These people often believe their child is the best and their child believes it too. This leads to some very elitist attitudes in the school and sometimes kids get marginalized and bullied by these kids because they either don't agree or are viewed lesser by the "richer" families. Bullying is a problem sometimes, these kids will often pretend to be friends with other kids and start to rag on them, especially in student feedback sheets on project these kids essentially call them stupid.
The Special Needs department struggles with identifying autistic asperger children. Teachers are not well versed in handling autistic asperger children and the child is the one that suffers. My child was placed inappropriately in classes that were beyond her reach and it took my all to get that changed mid year. The damage had been done though emotionally and now my daughter suffers from high anxiety as a result which further impacts her grades and confidence. During the IEP meetings if I voice concerns as a parent, they are not taken seriously. I would say if you do not have a special needs child, this school is great, otherwise you will need to work hard to get accommodations for your child.
As a student, I was not as impressed as parents. The money to teach and the extracurricular activities from excess funding is at HPHS. However, when I went to university, I viewed some Chicago High School Grads as having more discipline. There seems like more peer pressure in hte suburbs that can distract. Maybe this is normal. However, there are both under-reported aggression (fights) and moral discipline challenges. Maybe, the city selective enrollment has had the same. I felt that I found better role models, elsewhere.