My daughter came to Capitol Hill as a seventh grader, five months ago. She is thriving and absolutely loves it. She's made friends easily and is very happy. The teachers are good, especially the exceptional history teacher, David Howard, and the orchestra teacher, John Middleton. Homework is very manageable. Good diversity. Yes, it would be nice if classes were smaller -- but that's not the school's fault, it's the fault of a district that doesn't value gifted & talented kids for anything other than bringing up test scores.. The only real negative here is the principal, Patrick Bryan. He is totally out of touch with parents -- won't return phone calls or emails. But the middle school administrator, Tim Williams, is great, and elementary parents rave about Grace Raymond. Good sports and lots of other opportunities. We're pulling our younger daughter out of her (excellent) school next year and sending her to Capitol Hill.
My middle-schooler is not highly gifted, like some of the kids here are, but she is excelling here. The arts classes are exceptional and so are most of the basics. The seventh grade English program is a little weak -- kids should be writing much more. There is a dynamic parent group and while they aren't real welcoming, they are very involved and work to make the school a community. Sports are good and the kids are mostly friendly to newcomers. The administration, most notably the notoriously unreachable principal, has a ways to go in order to assist the great teachers in succeeding. This year the administration really harmed History Day, a school tradition, by scheduling tons of testing in the computer lab, which meant that the kids had a tough time doing their research. Principal seems more interested in being front and center when something's successful than he does in getting down into the trenches to support the teachers and make sure the kids come first. He's very unfriendly to parents and no one really knows what he does all day! The school district is not blameless either -- they don't give the school adequate staffing, hiding behind a myriad of excuses.
This is a strange, disconnected, cold institution. Little to no sense of community. Kids shuffled around like cogs in a machine. Emphasis on producing work and projects, but very little attention to quality or mastery. My kids are pushed along with the sea of students here, but I find that they have major skill gaps in math, grammar, reading comprehension, and writing. Specialist courses in the lower grades are of very low quality. Accelerated opportunities in math are misleading. The classrooms, busses, and cafeteria are overcrowded. Teachers are NOT supported by the administration. After many years here, very few adults in the building know my kids or recognize their strengths or weaknesses. All this adds up to a poor, unhappy, and at times even uncivil learning environment.
Interesting reviews here. I have two children at this school. While I agree that being at CH is a relief compared to being at other SPPS in terms of academic levels and for my kids to be surrounded by other G/T kids, the downsides are very real. Overcrowding in the lunchroom, busses and classrooms creates stress and a prison like environment. The administration takes a very "us against Them" approach to the parents who try to advocate for their children. I agree with the other reviewers who don't entirely trust the principal. He does not respond to email or phone calls. He does not hold himself accountable. Parents are tired of the uphill battle. CH is seen as an elite school and yet it is one of the least funded schools in the district. A parent had to provide a printer for the 6th grade so, they could do their history day work. Junior high is another story. 40 plus kids in classes. The principal is growing the school as fast as he can which translates to insane stress levels as they race through the halls, skip lunch (no time) and fend for themselves socially. This school, like the other SPPS schools breed aggressive, disrespectful, stressed out kids.
I'm amazed by the number of negative reviews posted here. To those individuals that don't appreciate the fact that their children have been accepted into this highly-selective school, I say this: pull your children out of CH to make room for families that are on the waiting list, because there are lots of families that would be thrilled to send their kids here. My child was flagged G/T in kindergarten, yet wasn't selected to attend CH until 3rd grade. In that time he languished at a mainstream SPPS elementary where he wasn't allowed to work to his ability (he was much more advanced than his classmates in a few subjects, and the G/T services there were pathetic), thus he was bored and hated school! After getting into CH, his life changed: he is finally doing challenging work in a fast-paced environment, he is finally allowed to work to his ability, and he loves learning! CH isn't perfect, but compared to what mainstream elementary is like for G/T students in SPPS, it's a godsend! If you are a parent of child that qualifies for CH, then you really ought to put CH as your first choice - don't bother with a mainstream school because it cannot offer to your child what CH can offer!
Capitol Hill Magnet/Rondo the rate of this school has highly dropped since I last rated this school. The school has way to many students crammed in there to the point where it is not a safe place when the students in middle school travel through the hallways. If you are considering picking Capitol Hill as your child's school i would say don't pick the school unless your child is starting at 1st grade, because if you don't start your child at first grade entering the school will be difficult because all the kids there have entered at first grade and you are quickly thrown into the outcast.
I've had three children attend Capitol Hill. The school maintains a rigorous pace using a parallel curriculum in all subjects. If your child can maintain the pace within this type of curriculum, it's great. If not, forget it, gifted or not. Classes are large and there's no room or time to slow down for anyone. For those who can maintain the pace, this is a good school. For those who cannot for any reason, much of the value of the curriculum is lost. Homework is excessive in all grades from most teachers. As a parent, prepare to be very involved in getting it done. Don't bother to inquire about the amount, you'll be told to buck up and get used to it. From experience, I can tell you that the homework does not really prepare your student any better for high school. The current principal is an unusual man who does not respond to parents or to reports of bullying. The District is adding students to the school to keep them (and the dollars) in the District and the total population of the school (grades 1-8) is now over 1100 students. Classes range in size from 25 -32 students. The school offers lots of enrichment opportunities after school
My 6 YO got tested in to Capitol Hill and I was debating if I should have him stay at his French Immersion school so he can be fluent in french by grade 6 or go to the GT school. My son has ADHD and I'd get calls from his teachers on how he was misbehaving. I am so glad that I chose Capitol Hill. His new teacher is AMAZING and caters to his behavior trying new things with him to help him learn and focus. Great school and great teachers (Ms.Brzinski)!
Capitol hill school is amazing school with amazing teachers, when my son was little behind in his reading at 2nd grade. Ms. waskosky was behind him in every little step he took. How is going to 4th Grade as a good Readers. Thanks a Lot !!!!
The Principal doesnt give you a very good feeling of your child being safe when being bullied. 2nd grade teacher (mrs young) pushes the kids too hard. She gives stop and think sheets for everything, EVEN for not finishing your work in class. Once she finds a kid to pick on-she really rips on them. The ONLY GOOD THING ABOUT CAPITAL HILL was 1st grade with Ms Brizinski! SHE IS AN AMAZING TEACHER!!!!! THANKFUL I was finally able to get my child out of that school. I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND THIS SCHOOL SOLEY FOR THE PRINCIPAL alone.
My daughter loves this school. Activities are helpful and encouraging to the kids. School reports making is good and I could know the level my child.
We were lucky enough to come to Capitol Hill just as the new principal, Patrick Bryan, did. I have seen a strong effort to take an honest appraisal of where the school is at, where it needs to do some improvement, and where it can really aspire to national leadership. An early focus on community and positive student behaviors have instilled a great deal of trust. I still find some pieces that turn me off a bit in terms of the community--do we, for instance, really need to tolerate the exclusive, class-demarcated stuff here like "gala" fundraising, just to make those certain someones feel OK about not choosing private school? I also think the default use of the district math curriculum is stunningly disappointing, in the early grades at least. If I hear one more time that it doesn't matter if my kid masters basic facts, I am going to tear out 7 hairs, six times, and my son will be lucky if they are all from my own head. Aargh. Those two qualms aside--and in which school in St. Paul would I fail to have some similar gripes?--I do think of Capitol Hill as a 5 star school. With the new sibling preference policy, we will definitely be sending our youngest here as well.
Our son is currently in 6th grade. It has been the ideal fit for him since entering the school in first grade. Even though the classrooms have been large (30+) his teachers have taken the time to get to know him and have done an excellent job motivating him. We recently discovered our son is twice gifted. His teacher did not hesitate to make accommodations for his needs. Things were a little rocky while they went through a principal transition. However, the new principal, like the teachers, seems to have a good grasp of the needs of gifted learners. Parents are very proactive. They are the lifeblood of the school and show it by volunteering for various activities throughout the year. We are looking forward to the Capitol Hill for junior high experience.
It seemed to me upon observation for enrollment, that there was a high disproportionate number of kids with Aspergers. Not that this is this is wrong, but I do question what real overall affect it has on a classroom as a special need. I also saw children with impulse issues and at least one child who had severe mental health issues and wanted to pinch, cut or hurt other children. The teachers did not seem empowered by admin or SPPS for that matter, to address the concerning parts of their classroom's composition, relying on parent complaint as method. (!) The hallways and atrium spaces should be filled with child color and joy, & were not. Social needs of kids through song and community seemed ignored. Enrichment (visual, tactile...) is very different than accelerated coursework (cognitive). Did not see integrated & child centered enrichment. My daughter's comment was that it smelled like Band-aids and I think that pretty much sums up my impression! Its not just about advancement, its about an innovative approach to the curriculum & a democratic feeling of ownership & authentic learning. Kids here would do well do have some Montessori and Waldorf pedagogy wrapped in.
I have two highly gifted (99th percentile) kids that attend CH. Both of them love the school. Every kid has subjects that are stronger with a wide variety of personalities and learning style. This is also true of my two children. G&T kids have an even larger spectrum (high & low end) abilities than what you typically find in a classroom. The teachers at CH are trained for this and do an amazing job of "customizing" the curriculum to fit the kids. They also work very hard to match learning styles to teaching styles (with parental input.) I find the creative freedom is well balanced with structure - even for my free spirit child. An important aspect of education that is often overlooked for these kids - social development. For the most part, they are in classes with children of their age rather than several years older than they are. The staff and parents are recently, putting much more effort and creativity into building a better sense of community for the school families. This and the spirit and dedication of the new principal are proving to strengthen what was lacking in the school. I would be surprised if even the best private schools could consistently offer all of this.
Capitol Hill has many strengths. Many strong, caring teachers and staff. Great resources for music and art. The other kids here are really neat, plus the parents are really interesting and caring about their kids' education. That being said, I have the sense that this school is resting on it's laurels. Coasting on reputation. I see a lack in creativity, inspiration, and unified school vision and goals, community building is poor. And leadership is almost non-existent and invisible. I see a community chomping at the bit to boost this school's dynamism and it is not being met with similar enthusiasm by administration. It's worrying. The curriculum is accelerated, but I don't see a lot of enrichment or complexity. I do sense the teachers are under a lot of pressure to get through things quickly. Probably some more than others. It also feels somewhat unwelcoming and cool...not so warm and kid-friendly as I'd like to feel in a K-8.
This is a rigorous school. Most classes are challenge classes. Bright kids and kids who like structure and school will do well. However, there is some rigidity and inflexibility. Some of the teachers were unnecessarily tough on kids (not academically speaking, just in how they ran things). Some teachers were wonderful. Some very bright kids at this age will have trouble with the rigidity. I was disappointed in how the school responded to some harassment issues.
Love the teachers who are committed, dedicated and work hard with every student, love the parent community, love the students who contribute their creative, thoughtful, bright ideas in many different ways on a daily basis.
I loved the environment, the teachers, the students. The smaller class sized helped the learning environment. Being a Gifted and Talented is self-explanatory.
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