There is a lot of peer pressure, bullying and not a lot of self respect. Students do not respect school some teachers have very poor boundaries with students. School staff can be understanding at times but, there are other times in which they accuse students of doing things they didn't do . The school staff don't always check the facts.
The faculty and staff are as good as my best college teachers. The homework actually solves real-world problems, such as curing cancer or improving soil quality in response to acid rain, making students feel empowered to change the world for the better.
The principal hires excellent teachers who use the problem-based curriculum. My son is currently working on the following two homework assignments. The 9th grade science teacher has each student run three, actual, real-world cancer cure experiments under his guidance. The science teacher was a laboratory researcher for many years before deciding to teach, so the students are actually running real-world cancer cure experiments in class. The AP Human Geography teacher assigned teams of three students to create case studies such as the following: The soil is too acidic in Mali due to acid rain. Improve the soil quality to avoid crop failure. My son's team is working on ways to solve the problem. Once the report is done, some teams will present the findings to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. If the findings are useful, they will be put into place to solve the actual problem. These are just two of my son's current homework assignments. Similar expectations and quality of instruction run throughout his classes in English, and Chinese language. Research, analysis, problem-solving and presentation of real-world challenges form the basis of education at Sammamish High School. The social environment is also very accepting and diverse. My son feels accepted, welcome and comfortable here. We feel lucky that our kids get to go to school at Sammamish High School.
Talented and caring teachers understand the range of student needs at this school, from kids bound for top colleges all the way to those struggling to stay in school and graduate. Staff and students create a culture of acceptance that is remarkable and one that will serve students well in their adulthood. Totem pride is amazingly high, despite having sports teams that struggle and a high level of poverty. SHS is full of opportunity to challenge oneself academically as well as in extracurriculars. A full range of AP classes is available to all, including those who need financial assistance. Frankly, the Athletic/Activity Director is out of touch with community needs, but one way or another that is going to improve with parent involvement and open communication. This isn't stereotypical Bellevue, so it may not be the right fit for those uncomfortable with economic, cultural, and social diversity. The building is in the midst of a major remodel and will be a beautiful state of the art facility upon completion in 2016. Hopefully the amazing school culture will remain intact as district boundaries are re-drawn and families pursue that fancy new building.
Sammamish is special with a broad diversity of students and needs. The school responds with programs such as Jumpstart and AVID to a plethora of AP classes plus College at High School and Running Start. Additionally, school spirit is very strong with the State's biggest high school fundraiser, Walk for Aidan. The principal is working tirelessly to improve the school, its teachers and its offerings.
Sammamish High School was rated #48 in the nation by Newsweek magazine for the 2008 school year. My daughter has flourished there and I couldn't be happier with our home neighborhood high school. By the way, all of the six high schools in Bellevue made the top 100 list in Newsweek and five of them were in the top 50.
As a parent of a student at SHS, I have found this school as having brought a well-rounded and strong academic experience for our child and future Totem. As a leader in the fine arts, math, and science depts., my kids will have a step up in their future academia world of college. The teachers actually care about their students and they hold the kids accountable for their actions. Tom Duenwald, current principal, works tirelessly in his efforts to hold the standards level high for the staff and the kids. The school spirit is much higher than other Bellevue high schools. SHS represents the real world of high school life.