Great teachers, amazing curriculum, incredible music and arts offerings. Ability and achievement based groupings by subject. My high ability children found a peer group that helped them feel normal in school and working hard to achieve. A gift every child deserves. No reason the way school is done at Capitol Hill could be replicated in every other school. For example, all students take math at the same time so that they can go to whatever level of math is appropriate for them and proceed at a pace that is comfortable with like students. Other differentiation strategies are used in other subjects to ensure students are continuing to grow academically. Students also are taught about civic responsibility and making a positive contribution. Community is highly valued. Parents are involved.
My daughter is in 1st grade at this school. I love love love how passionate and real the principal is. He's always smiling, warm, and welcoming. He makes it a practice to know everyone by name! You will often find him in the hallways or outside before and after school greeting and sending off students/parents. His presence is felt throughout the school and at all school events. No question who the leader is in that school! My daughter's teacher also is great. Both have great communication. Weekly newsletter from the principal, Mr. Bryan, and the teacher are sent via email. It keeps me as a busy parent in the loop. The office staff is also excellent! Always there to help and is so welcoming!
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!