My three kids graduated from CHS. Not only is it academically rigorous (my husband and I have ivy degrees, so we feel we can assess this pretty well) but it is also a place where all sorts of kids thrive: artists, filmmakers, robotics teams, journalists, math geeks, dancers, jazz musicians, athletes and on and on: all are the cool kids here. There is socioeconomic and racial diversity, and so these kids learn how to work with everyone. It has been instrumental in the success of our kids and their friends. It is an extraordinary place.
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
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.