This isn't a bad school. Some teachers are great, some mediocre, and some are awful. There is a huge drug culture that the administration likes to pretend doesn't exist, but there are plenty of people who don't do drugs, and they're not hard to find. The new library is dark and kind of pathetic, and I expected better from a school system as wealthy as APS. The gym is really nice, and there are extensive gym facilities, like a state of the art weight room and a nice auxiliary gym. There is a team for practically every sport, too, and a ton of clubs for nonathletic people, so the extracurriculars are great.
"You'll find druggies at every school you send your child to." Yes but of all the schools my kids attended while I was in the military- schools in California, Texas, North Carolina and Virginia- the only time I ever witnessed a 40 year old PARENT light up it was when my kid went to Yorktown. If you throw your kids to the wolves there, don't count on the other parents acting like parents.
Yorktown is an okay high school with some great points and some horrible ones. I've had some teachers who changed my life for the better here and others who almost ruined my learning career. Though drinking and drugs are a problem here, I would not suggest sending your kids to private school as an alternative. Yorktown is very diverse in terms of what kids do in their free time. It's possible to avoid illegal activities and still have many friends. YHS has a LOT of school spirit and great theater/music programs. There is a club for everyone. This school is not perfect, but if you look hard enough you can find some wonderful students with ambitions and values to match your own- and that will make up for everything else.
The irony is that parents send their kids to this school because they feel it will keep them away from drugs when the fact of the matter is the school is composed of mostly rich kids who can afford it. Sending them to private school doesn't help because it's the same situation. And honestly the APS program far surpasses the local private school education and is way more diverse. You'll find druggies at every school you send your child to.
I decided to give it several months before I posted a review of this school. Now that my child has been attending another school in a different state for almost all of 2012, I can safely state that Yorktown is NOT a good place for your child to attend school. As other parents have noted, the staff is unapproachable and condescending. They do not listen to your concerns. Some teachers are outright incompetent. For instance, in Chemistry my child had a D when he transferred out of there and by the end of the spring semester in the same subject he had an A at his new school. And drugs are a HUGE problem at Yorktown. The kids just have too much time and money on their hands. At all costs, if you have to live in that area, try a private school or home school your kids.
We bit the bullet and purchased in the Williamsburg/Yorktown district based on what we had researched when moving to the DC area. With respect to Yorktown, we could not be more disappointed. Our personal experience revealed a prevelant attitude that the kids should be treated as adults, that the school knows best and the parents are idiots. Some of the staff were outright condescending when I questioned the total lack of communication. There are some very,very good teachers who clearly struggle against the "teach to the SOL tests" instruction, as well as school overcrowding issues. And there are some horrifically incompetent teachers. For example one teacher failed to grade assignments for a month, lost at least 1/2 doz of my child's assignments (thank goodness for archived emails) and rarely returned my calls/emails. Parents - keep on top of your kid(s)' progress and keep in consistent communication with the teachers. We hired tutors to shore up those classes where the teaching was subpar.
As one other reviewer noted, there is a huge emphasis on testing (so they can claim to be a Blue Ribbon School) to the detriment of actually ensuring the students learn the material. Students are overwhelmed with assignments and homework. Some teachers are unresponsive and then dig their heels in over subjective grading policies and will not allow assignments to be made up even when absences ar excused. Kids walk out of school after the end of the day with frowns, not smiles. Drugs are prevalent. The three stars are for the fact that they have a great extra-curricular program with opportunities for every student to participate.