If your child is 'gifted" in math and science, then Scholars is a good option. When our son began at Scholars in 2006, the school was smaller, well-rounded, and embraced the education of all types of gifted students. But over the years, there has been a definite push for the school to move in the direction of math and science. I wish we would have realized this sooner and not kept him there for middle school.
Firstly, let me say that I'm a Scholars alumna who attended all the way from kindergarten through eighth grade. It was an interesting experience, and I think that I'm better off for having gone to Scholars.
The thing that has benefited me the most is definitely the accelerated classes. I'm already taking Chemistry, English II and Pre-Calc (which is mostly Algebra II review, ugh) as a freshman, much to the surprise of some of my classmates. I'm actually finding high school rather easy, even though I'm in the IB (International Baccalaureate) program. The intense (and occasionally superfluous) workload at Scholars certainly makes 9th grade standards seem lax.
Other than a homework load that suffers from spasmodic bouts of absurd excessiveness, the other thing I disliked about Scholars was the social atmosphere. Although it was gratifying to be with peers who were (generally) equally as committed to academics as myself, the unrelenting torrent of utter "geekdom" could get tiring. As an extension of this, the academically oriented atmosphere generates a lot of competition and a huge amount of arrogance in those students who consistently achieve high marks. Furthermore, because of small class sizes and little introduction of new students, the social situation quickly becomes stagnant. If you want to learn how to make new friends, don't go to Scholars.
All in all, Scholars is a decent school with rigorous standards when it comes to the amount (and generally quality) of work one is expected to do, but it students generally suffer from sever social awkwardness by the time they manage to free themselves from the quagmire of nerdiness that is Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy.
TL;DR Scholars was usually academically challenging, which I appreciate, but I shed no tears when it was time to graduate. I shed like negative five tears (which isn't physically possible, but just go with it for the sake of the metaphor).
Sometimes, you get so much work that your brain (figuratively) leaves you a resignation notice and squeezes out of your ear to vacation in Malibu. Sometimes you get no homework at all. Most of the time, it's the former rather than the latter.
All in all, Scholars isn't a big place for lying or cheating. The students generally consider cheating the "unintelligent" way to get a good grade and prefer to study instead. Considering the utter lack of street smarts that Scholars kids have, I doubt they'd be able to pull off cheating anyway.
When we first applied to Scholars Academy for our son, we really didn't have a plan B for him. He is gifted, but he also learns differently from other kids. Not every moment has been perfect. The curriculum is challenging and moves very fast. There are times that he seems to be falling behind even though he is learning because he fails to keep up with the workload. This is frustrating for him, but as he grows, he improves and it teaches him a lesson about the value of hard work. This is an important lesson for a gifted child because they are used to "getting" things quickly without much work. The world can be a cruel place for someone who isn't used to working.
The most surprising benefit to this school has been watching our son make friends who share his interests. He hasn't really been able to do that in any other setting.
This school is often played up to be an amazing school, but it simply isn't like what it used to be. My child has had a teacher who had taught them nothing for three years in a row, which has significantly impacted her. The work ethic of the kids who attend has drastically dropped in the past few years, and the teachers teach at the pace of those who don't care. Overall, no better than public school.
We have several children at this school (one of which has "graduated" to regular public high school.) Scholars is AWESOME---especially comparing my child's readiness to his high school peers. Great parents, accelerated llearning, diversity, lack of private school "affluenza" and the companionship of other smart kids. The beauty of this school is how smart kids feed off each other, support each other and make each other better. My high schooler still considers his Scholars' friends his closest buds.
This could be an excellent school that has been lacking direction in curriculm, best practices, and teacher leadership. Its excellent scores are due to the hardworking nature of the students. I rated it above average because of the students and how they interact. Parents eyes are now open and they are eager to be able to finally advocate for their children. I hope that the teachers who are excellent will continue to flourish (and there are some really good ones) and the teachers who are constantly yelling at the students will be dismissed.
We love the Scholars' Academy. It has been such a blessing in our lives. Our child wakes up everyday excited about school. The teachers are great, their knowledge of gifted children is phenomenal. They know what these kids need. Love it!