My daughter graduated from CHS in 2012, and we have many friends whose children are still there. It was a great experience for her all around. She had many excellent teachers, and a few were superb. It is a school where teachers value intellectual curiosity and enthusiastically encourage critical thinking. The arts are superb. She is now at an excellent, large university with an international student body and she finds that she has been unusually well prepared both academically and because of her experiences with the diverse community of Columbia High School.
While there are many positive aspects to my son's experience at this school (2010 graduate), we made the decision to move out prior to our daughter starting her freshman year. We were paying very high taxes and for that expected an excellent school. If you ask the teachers themselves, they will tell you there are too many admins doing little to earn their keep. My daughter now attends Ridge in Basking Ridge and there is no comparison. She has rocketed to honors and raves about the quality of teachers. Leveling students is in my opinion a very bad idea. It's one thing to have an honors class but another to be ranking kids early on. Many kids need to be around better students in order to improve. Middle school/high school kids don't need to be publicly labeled in that way...they've already got enough pressure. It's sad to see the Maplewood S. Orange schools going downhill. There are lots of good things about the community, but seeing the contrast in schools made us realize our tax dollars were not well used. Now we pay less than a quarter of what we paid in Maplewood with a public school system that is ranked nationally. Columbia isn't even ranked in the state. Sad!
This is a good school with tons of A.P class options and extracurricular activities. Inside the classrooms, I feel very safe and in a good learning environment. The hallways, however can be overwhelming at first, and I sometimes expect to see fights breaking out. If you get involved and stick with the right people, it is a great school. There are so many activities to get involved with: tutoring younger kids, sports, community service clubs, marching band, yearbook, improv, photography, etc. This school lets you try out many different things to see what you want to do in college and the rest of your life.
I have two sons who have graduated from CHS and a third who is completing his second year. I am an active parent and have always been very pleased with the academic and extra-curricular programs. Both of my older sons got accepted to the colleges of their choice and are progressing well and ready to leave their mark on the world. I haven't always agreed with everything decision made by school personnel, but have always been made to feel that I had a forum with which i could express my concern and even appeal a decision. CHS, unlike private schools, takes all students who walk in the door and provides them with the tools to be successful.
My son graduated from this school, completed college and is now working in a wonderful job. In addition to academics he grew because of the diverse environment. He is proud to have know so many people with so many race and/or religious foundations. He also learned more the love of knowledge and the desire to explore. Columbia High School has a lot to offer
In 1967,68 and 69 it was a fabulous school. I am not familiar with its qualities now.
Full of opportunity, Columbia High School can provide an incredibly positive environment and atmosphere that allows talented and determined kids to grow. Rich with AP courses and a diverse array of extra-curricular activities, the school can provide a structure that sets students up for future success, if they are motivated self-starters. Students who do not get admitted to Honors, Advanced or AP classes may find themselves in challenging learning environments, but the school is very open to mobility paths (especially after parental involvement.) Students that are not eager learners be warned, the school structure, teachers and students are not welcoming of those that do not put forth consistent, rigorous effort. These students do in fact fall through the cracks and receive very little support and encouragement to succeed. At the end of the day, Columbia provides limitless opportunity for those students willing to capture it.
Columbia is a great school for anyone who wants a diverse, intense education, with a supportive arts and sports program.
This school has loads of character and history the community is great and the kids in the school are so friendly
Columbia has changed greatly in the past 3-4 years, because when I started there it was very chaotic especially when a lot of freshman had study halls. But I have seen the change in the amount of people wandering the hall the now lack of distraction to enhance the educational learning experience. A lot of the honor and ap classes are not as diverse but there are plenty of educators that are willing to teach at the level, because the teachers care about what happens to there students. Coming into this community from a non-diverse to this one really opened my eyes to see how everyone is a very cohesive unit and involve everyone in intellectual conversation and sharing of ideas. At the moment the principal leadership is at average, but it should be raised because we have three great principals that kept well run school
yes there is a lot of student involvment in this school but if you aren't a honor or an AP student then the quality of the education really diminishes. Some of the classes are too big and I think the majority of the staff is too based on disipline rather than education.
Columbia is a vibrant, diverse school that refects the surrounding community of politically active, accomplished and creative citizens. This means that conflict occurs, voices are heard and the system is challenged. Aside from adult inflamatory actions which have taken advantage of the student body in recent years, the level of conversation and debate in the school has been a positive thing for both of my kids. Seniors who graduate from CHS are prepared for life in a much more practical way than they would be at more protective schools that only emphasize test scores. Many graduates attend top notch schools, many teachers go way beyond the call of duty and many parents agree that they are thrilled to have their kids at CHS!
The quality of the academic program is great if your child is a non-minority honor student. The teachers are outstanding but morale is extremely low. They have been working without a contract and the administration treats them very poorly. For extremely talented students the music program is great. Sports are competitive and the number of activities is high. Parental involvement is moderate to high. Right now the climate of the school is volatile. There have been student walkouts and protests. Great diversity in the student population but way too many students. Guidance counselors are overwhelmed with caseloads exceeding 250 students. Freshman failure rate is a very serious issue that I have not seen addressed. This school badly needs some restructuring from the top down. It has a lot to offer and is at a turning point now. Either it will take a turn for the better or continue to deteriorate.
Inspite of the principals insistance that there are not 2 schools, merely children who want to learn vs children who do not want to learn - the atmosphere in Level 3 is not conducive to learning, even for the children who want to learn. Unless your child is already achieving, CHS is not the place for them.
I was eager to attend Columbia but when I got there I was disapointed. Some of the teachers are not great teachers and some of the staff discriminate against certain students.
school system is very good there. the teachers take their time to teach and leave the school knowing that you have learned something.
good town, not that great a school. always fights errupting. students not challenged enough.
School contains a wealth of academic programs including many AP courses. Faculty is top notch and genuinely care about the students' progress.
Very poor communication between school and parent. We were never warned about our child's status and only found out how poorly she was doing when we got her report card. Teacher's seem overloaded and inaccessible, not to mention, uninterested in her success. She hasn't had any teacher that's made an effort to motivate her. School may serve self-directed students, but certainly fails in reaching the student who is struggling. In addition, it is like living in the dark ages, there is no email access to teachers, or to school. No cyber options. It's as if the computer has not yet been invented. This in a school in an affluent community, just half an hour from NYC. Shocking!
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The Community Rating is the school’s average rating from its community members (e.g., parents, students, and school staff). The highest possible rating is five stars; the lowest is one star.
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