East is the most challenging public high school in the state. The stress level is unbelievable and most people say they put forth more effort here than they ever had to in college. If you don't take honors and AP classes, then you are looked down upon by peers, teachers and the administration. Very rarely do students take more then 1 standard class a year. It is very uncommon for a student to graduate with less then 5 AP credits. The rigor is unbelievable and most students are up all hours of the nigh doing work. Teachers are excellent and are reachable almost all hours of the day and night. If you aren't willing to put forth the effort of a rigorous college student, then this is not the school for you. As for the social aspect, Chapel Hill is a primarily wealthy town college town. So the preppy attitude is expected. With that the party atmosphere is not small. The school is very safe with 1 police officer, 3 security guards, and a key card system. If you want to put forth the effort, and used to the demanding social and educational atmosphere, then east is a great school for you.
As a parent with a child who graduated in 2007 and a child who is a current senior, I can say this school has dropped significantly in quality. Test scores may be as good as ever but the principal and counselors are terrible. Getting the principal to return a call, let alone set up a face t o face meeting is nearly impossible. The athletic director plays favorites among teams. He let the high profile football (who quit after 2 years) devastate some of the other teams such as wrestling because the football coach bullied the kids into playing ONLY football. My son's counselor doesn't seem to care and gets very defensive when you ask questions. My older son a true relationship with his counselor. She checked in with him. Knew what he was involved in and was a great asset during junior in preparing for college. My current son's counselor will write him a college recommendation without even even knowing him. On a positive note - their are some outstanding dedicated teachers and my son has been lucky enough to have a few of these. The ones that not only share their knowledge but instill passion for curiosity.
East Chapel Hill High School is nationally recognized in the highest designation as "Honor School of Excellence" with at least 90% of students at or above grade level. The majority of students take the SAT entrance exams and the schools average scores have been nationally recognized for high achievement for decades. Our family moved to so our then elementary age child go eventually go to high school here. He recently graduated And is now in college at the school of his choice. ECHHS is an excellent school with excellent teachers and Guidance Counselors who go the extra mile to get help your child.
Mostly wonderful teachers, extremely challenging. My son has worked harder at East than I ever had to work during college or graduate school. For him it has been great - he needs the challenge. Stress levels can be high however - it depends on the personality of the student. East has many councilors, all of whom are great resources for the college application process.
East is misunderstood as a school that is "highly rigorous." I have two students there who are both excellent top of their class students, and both have been miserable and generally unsupported during their time at East. The problem is that the school is so large, with very little security or discipline, and tremendous pressure on the teachers by the administration to rank high on testing that everyone is stressed out. Teachers and administrators take ages to get back to parents, if they do at all. Concerns are met with hostility. Creativity and critical thinking are not valued. This school creates automatons who score highly on tests - not future leaders of America. In short, I do not credit my kids' success academically to the academic rigors of East CHHS.
This is an excellent school. Teachers expect you to work very hard and by junior year you need to take about 5 AP's to maintain a competitive edge. However, I would say that while it is extremely stressful to maintain that course load and do a lot of extracurriculars, this is truly what real life is all about. There is a lot of competition and especially for people looking into ivy leagues, you ought to strive for academic excellence at all times. East isn't for everyone (especially not for those who like to slack off more often than not) but if you work very hard and strive for excellence you will find your niche. The teachers here aren't always understanding about the stress students are having but many do understand and are sympathetic to your concerns.
We have had a student at East for 2 years and as parents have noticed: *Excellent, dedicated teachers who (besides knowing their subject matter): - Integrate real world facts with academic instruction - Provide cooperative group experience *and* individual projects - Use the internet creatively and professionally - Organize extracurricular field trips - Assess learning outcomes intelligently - Help students learn to take responsibility *Fellow students encourage one another to study but have fun together, too *International and multicultural student body *Students are comfortable conversing with adults as beings of the same species *Availability of challenging academics for those so inclined *Phenomenal drama dept. *Music program, student newspaper and numerous clubs *Sports ethos supporting young women athletes as much as its young men *Nurture and challenge as appropriate. East provides a good foundation for college where students must be self-directed to take initiative and ownership of their own lives. It is a big school built upon the hearts of many caring individuals.
This school is full of amazing teachers and has perhaps hundreds of groups for whatever you like--clubs especially are in abundance. Teachers are very involved, and there are many great teachers, not so many bad ones, and though I have run into some, I doubt it's a major problem. I do have to note that the competition at this school is very high. If you do not take AP classes your sophomore year, your class rank suffers dramatically, and extracurriculars come in the triples, often each of them asking your total dedication. You will find yourself staying up past midnight if you take your stuff seriously. But this school is highly enjoyable to go to; everyone finds their niche, bursts out, and has the freedom to enjoy whatever they want to. I will be sorry to leave.