I attended Principia K-12, went to a state school for part of college, and finished at Principia College. The K-12 education, its level of excellence and emphasis on integrity and character education were profound. I have nothing but gratitude and admiration for my time there. Like many other places, Principia is not completely perfect, its faced many of the challenges we see society at large grappling with. But it has an important part to play in the education of better thinkers for our world.
The kids are awesome - BUT, the people who run the place, as well as many of the parents, are narcissistic ego maniacs who have turned their back on "the purpose" and have in many ways done more harm to the religion it purports to serve than any other event/organization. The group running the school are self-centered and inept. Open and truthful dialogue is not only discouraged, but if your opinion differs from the "upper echelon" - places your job in jeopardy, and will quickly get you banished socially. The recent events surrounding the school are outward evidence as to how far this school has fallen under the past 20 years of incompetent "leadership" at the highest levels, but especially at the Board, CEO, President and Head-of-School levels. Competent teachers are far and few between, since the pool of candidates is so small, and the working atmosphere is so abysmal. The decline of this once "Shining light" would make for an exceptional case study on how to destroy an institution through cronyism, inept management, incompetent board oversight, and management-by-intimidation. The truly worst part of this is that the ones who suffer the most are the kids -
I attended Principia's Upper School and I can only say that I had a fabulous experience. When people talk about "cliques," I'm not entirely sure what they mean. There are cliques everywhere but, in my experience, the cliques at Prin were less odious than the norm. For what it's worth, I was not one of the "popular" kids and yet I made great friends there...including "popular" types. As for the academics, no complaints. My Principia education secured my admission to one of the most competitive colleges in the country (undergraduate acceptance rate < 9%). I wonder if some are particularly hard on the institution because their expectations are so high. There aren't a lot of Christian Scientists out there, after all, so they might feel doubly let down when their encounters with fellow church members fall short of their expectations. To that I say, yes, they're human and Principia is not some kind of utopia. But it's a a lot better--a lot friendlier, a lot more welcoming, more supportive, and, yes, better intentioned--than a lot of other places you'll go...I'll venture to speculate most places. Really, I'm hard-pressed to say anything bad about the place.
I use to be a student here a few years ago from my sophomore to junior year in the upper school. Looking back on it (as another reviewer mentioned) gives me mixed feelings. They put on a very welcoming and warm facade to the public and to prospective students/parents, but this changes once you're a student (especially one living in the dorms). The community is very cliqueish and all the talk of the 'Prin family' where all students are given the opportunity to pursue their own interests and grow in a positive environment is overly exaggerated. I was often told not to pursue things that interested me in favor of what they wanted me learn/do with my time. The administration shelters the students from any influences or information that may contradict Christian Science and this is reinforced through the summer camps and finally the college. I feel like I wasted one and half years of my life here, not only did it not enrich my life in any way but I was pretty much alienated from all the other students/staff who pegged me rather quickly as one of the untouchables. I really do feel that I threw away what should have been the best years of my high school life, I regret not leaving sooner.
I attended Principia from 7th grade through high school, even graduated from Principia College, but I have mixed feelings. I admit that my Prin experience kept me out of trouble. On the other hand, I feel like I missed out on better opportunities that could have opened up for me if I had gone to a public university or public high school. One thing about Prin, both campuses are beautiful, which gives students the impression they are exceptional. However, most people have never heard of "Principia" so to have such an expensive college degree or high school diploma from there doesn't command much respect in the real world. You have to come from a family with connections or know someone who can get you a decent job. Principia is a VERY cliqueish community! Once you're branded or labeled by others in the Prin community, that's it, you're finished. You get one chance. Prin can be VERY unforgiving and cruel, ironic considering that Mary Baker Eddy promoted kindness, forgiveness and generousity in everything she wrote. Bottom line, expect to turn into a snob and shun those beneath you if you really want to fit in at Principia. It can do you more harm then good in the long run.
Principia School centers around character education. Principia successfully brings in high profile speakers and surrounds its students with unparalleled leadership opportunities and individuals of an extremely high caliber.
All 3 of my children went to Principia from preschool thru high school, with some time at public schools. All 3 valued the education, especially in high school, felt that they had the skills they needed to be successful in college, have retained strong friendships from this time, even if they don't continue the religious path that was laid out. All 3 continued to have strong mentoring relationships with teachers from this time.
My children had been at The Principia and I pulled them from the school this year. The school is not very accepting if you do not conform exactly and my children were miserable. I also found the communication from the teachers to be lacking and very cliquish parents.
The Principia School improved my parenting skills and helped to answer countless questions when my child was in the infant/toddler program. Now my son is in nursery, and looks forward to every day at school. He is growing more independent, thoughtful, and tolerant all the time. The teachers have been supportive and communicative. The director has been accommodating and embracing. And the program has been full of opportunities for my child to expand his horizons, from spanish class to horseback riding.
Our three children have had first rate educations at The Principia School. They've been challenged, cherished and supported in their academic endeavors as well as in all the extra curricula activities they've been involved in. Teachers here care enough to call when a student is home and stay late, beyond the after school conference period to work with a student. Teachers come to games to cheer which has never been part of their job description. The coaches are passionate about winning but just as committed to character education. Our children have made lifelong friends and so have we as parents.