My experience with Palo Alto has been a very positive one. I've had my 3 children attend there. I have no complaints. All 3 of my children have received a good quality education. My eldest left there an honor roll student and went on to receive her IB diploma from HS. My middle child, also an honor student who loves to participate in any and every after school activity like NJHS, chess club, tennis, swim, and football, had multiple clubs to choose from and he will be attending Early College High School in the fall. This was my youngest son's first year there, he is also an honor student. All 3 of my kiddos always received advance performance/commended on STARR which is proof positive that for the students who want to receive it the opportunity for a great education is definitely there. The staff is always very courteous and demonstrate genuine concern for each and every student who attends their school.
Excellent teachers, the teachers really care about their students and their education. My daughter has gone to Palo Alto for the past three years and I am very happy with the education she has received here. I would recommend this school to anyone.
I had more homework as a student, but my daughter is overwhelmed sometimes. This is due to her own poor time management skills and provides another lesson to learn as she grows. The current trend to reduce homework loads for students is misguided and misrepresented at best. So far, her teachers have gotten it right.
The incessant focus on the importance of tests and projects (for the GT students) can create too much stress and develop a sense of hopelessness. Too many teachers and school systems fall into the institutional problem (hence the debate about standardized testing- with teachers being against it!). Palo Alto tries to mitigate this with Pep Rallies and other activities to 'defrag' the students' minds. More could certainly be done, but Palo Alto does address those opportunities.
Although I don't see specific programs similar to what our Elementary Schools focus on, I do see the personal interaction between the teachers and students and the emphasis on being a 'good Patriot'. Between great examples and individual recognition, this school provides a constructive atmosphere to learn those traits.
I see daily the efforts that Principal Widacki and his faculty take to make this middle school a fantastic place. Despite a horrible reputation in the community (including when my wife went there soon after the school was opened), it is one of the best schools in the area. That reputation is wrong. The surrounding area is quite nice and the school itself takes great pride in preparing students and working with them personally on a great number of subjects. Most importantly, they offer plenty of opportunities for my kid, including Science Club, Swimming (I didn't know they had a pool!), and varsity sports and activities (volleyball and choir are my kid's choices). Palo Alto is a great school and run by a Principal and Faculty that truly care.