I graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School in May of 2004. Despite what alot of people may think, the curriculum is extremely challenging, but it is also not overwhelming. There are people -including fellow students-there to help you with anything. The number one problem that I see is that people are embarrassed to get help with their studies because they think they are automatically supposed to 'get this stuff'. The truth is, most of the kids here get some kind of help or tutoring, especially from the Satarday Tutoring Program. There is phenomenal extracurricular participation, and kids can participate in anything that suits their interests. They can even petition to form their own clubs (as MANY have)! Contrary to popular belief, everyone 'fits in' here. You will never be without friends. Also, there is a BIG focus on college here, so be prepared to get into some of the BEST colleges in the country (including Harvard)!
This is the best high school in New Orleans. Not only is it academically advanced, but it is a safe haven for children to be themselves. There are many extracurricular activities for students to explore, and parents are more than welcome to share in their children's learning.
Academic program is rigorous yet acheivable. My daughter was fluent in french by the time she entered college, thanks to a Lyon, France native teacher and a connection with an overseas program through the high school as well. Other areas, math, science, excellent!
I graduated from Franklin in 2000, and I count my blessings that I got to attend this school. I had a terrific experience. There's a good sense of community and school spirit. The school's not big, so after a few years you are at least familiar with everyone you are taking classes with. Most students were friendly and easy to get along with. Most, although not all, of the faculty are great teachers and convey sincere interest in the students. The curriculum was challenging enough to keep me interested but not overwhelming. The study habits the school fostered were of great use in college--many of my peers had not had to study in high school and were lost. I'm in law school, and I know my time at Franklin was instrumental in me getting here. Bottom line: if you have the opportunity to go to Franklin, jump at it.
Our son just completed 9th grade, so this review is limited to the Freshman year. His teachers ranged from truly outstanding to moderately boring, with the majority being interested in teaching and willing to work with him. The courses were rigorous, with a lot of memorization and challenging exams. If a student has a 'why do I have to learn all this junk' attitude, he will not fare well. But one with some self-motivation who enjoys the company of other bright (and often quirky) kids will find BFHS to be an oasis in the desert of New Orleans public school education.
We sent our child to this school expecting an exciting curriculum that would serve as a catalyst for student learning. Alas, we got a rather mediocre curriculum and very traditional. Our child was quite bored with this approach and did not fare well. In my opinion, the faculty are 'behind the curve' in terms of technology and current pedagogical practices. This was probably a great school 10-20 years ago, but it hasn't grown well into the 21st century. We saw no holistic approaches to learning and a very 'compartmentalized' school in all respects. I would not recommend it unless your child 'fits in well.' It is not a school that nutures or fosters individual thinking--it is quite elitist and uncaring.
I graduated from this school in the eighties, and it was a tough curriculum, but never so tough that I couldn't handle it. One advantage that I've had is that I get a lot of doors opened for me, simply because I graduated from Ben Franklin. The classes were small and everyone knew everybody, at least by sight if not by name. Many students had an elitist attitude, but more often than not, the students just wanted to learn and wouldn't tolerate other students interfering with their studies. It was a stressful environment, having to maintain a 'B' level GPA, but not un-do-able, and as long as the parents are supportive, a child shouldn't internalize that pressure. It is definitely not a school for the weak, but the timid can find themselves there.
I graduated from Franklin a few years ago. It was one of the most miserable times of my life. It is elitist, stifling, and only students with a particular learning style and personality are encouraged, while the others are practically berrated for not fitting within the 'norm.' How pathetic that Franklin is the best New Orleans has to offer!
My daughter recently graduated from Ben Franklin in 2002 and she has greatly benefited from her studies there. The teachers were always willing to go out of their way to help students even beyond their time in the classroom. Highlights: challenging academics, inclusive sports, arts programs, advanced technology, clean, safe, and supportive environment, excellent parental envolvment, and a wonderful school to prepare your children for their futures.
I graduated from Ben Franklin in 1991 and I can say that my experiences there definitely prepared me for college. It was a wonderful school with excellent teachers who actually enjoyed what they were doing and it showed! Mr. Catalano inspired me to become a teacher as well. Hats off!
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