ICS was once an amazing school, I will say this. When I came in as a 7th grader, the education I received by far surpassed that of my elementary school peers, who were attending Kirkland Middle School. Unfortunately, I can no longer say this. In the past six years, there have been three different principals. The current principal is utterly incompetent. The staff used to be fantastic, but they've hired so many new teachers over the years who simply aren't cut out to be invested in ICS's unique six-year program. I'm not saying the school is a complete bust. If you are willing to put in the time and effort to achieve at ICS, then go for it, but know that in your junior year, you and your peers will consider five hours of sleep to be an amazing accomplishment. I did go through ICS, and I did succeed, but in hindsight I do not think it was worth it. You will have a limited social life, an extremely limited STEM education, and you will have to do sports at your home school. Keep in mind that the school will not care if you have sports obligations which require you to take time off school. Getting into an ivy league school as an ICS student is actually more difficult that applying as a student from a regular high school. You will have to explain your lack of extracurricular achievement in light of the amount of time and effort you put in to simply maintain a GPA of above 3.7.
ICS is an amazing school with very good teachers and focused in the Academic Life. They have no sports, no P.E. They have orchestra, band and theater. I have a Junior student at ICS and she loves it and is very involved with the school. Homework hours are immense, group works are challenging and the student must make his life gravitating around school. My student was a procrastinator before heading to ICS and he had to work hard to change his behavior towards learning and scheduling his life. We had a conversation that if the stress was too much he would leave ICS and go to another school, but he was able to adapt himself. ICS is (according to US news) the best high school in WA State and the 13 best high school in the Country. It is challenging, it is stressful and it is not for everybody. It demand family involvement with the student life. If you have doubts about the school quality go to the school and check the board that shows the Universities where the students head to after their Senior year. Keep in mind: excellence has a price to be paid.
I am the parent of a student with a learning disability. The experience we've had at ICS has never been anything but positive and supportive. My child is now in 10th grade: our 4th year here. Never have I felt that because my child wasn't naturally a top achiever that we were less welcome than any one else. Furthermore, the skills and abilities that my child currently demonstrates are far beyond what I would expect from a large mainstream high school. They taught her not only to achieve but to persevere and excel. I'm not saying it's been easy! The struggle, however, is worth it because of her love for her school, her pride in herself, and her genuine accomplishment. I have no doubt that she will go on to the college of her choice well prepared both academically and socially. If you win this lottery, be prepared for some pain, as your child struggles to learn to organize, study, and work hard. Be confident that the counselors and principal are in your corner as they have been in ours. Do not believe the reviews that claim that only kids "who could teach themselves from books in a forest" succeed here! I happen to know otherwise!
Before you decide to put your children in ICS open your eyes and listen carefully to what the school openly admits. 6-7 hours a night of homework, it is stated clearly on the reader boards in the school! One parent said it is education by brutality. The kids are slammed with busy work and stressed constantly to get it all done. There is a high incidence of anxiety and depression among the students to which the school states is normal. Think carefully before you put your child here, just because you win the lottery doesn't mean you really won!
My child attended this school last year. My child isn't attending this year and we are so grateful to have our lives back and our students life back. Be careful if you think you are "winning the lottery ticket." Are you really? Does your child have any struggles at all currently because they will be amplified greatly. My child struggled from anxiety and depression during his second semester at ICS. My child was so slammed with busy work from school that there wasn't any free time to do outside activities. We even postponed vacations so he could do homework. Some of the teachers were understanding about my child's new issue of anxiety and depression in addition to other issues we had already dealt with but most were not! A word about homework from my informal polls was that most did about 6 hour of homework per night. I only heard of one child of all the people I talked to that required only 2 1/2 hours. Is it worth it? Check out their attrition rates! Talk to other parents not just one or two, poll a lot.
I'm a student at this school and have very ambivalent feelings about it. This school drives students hard. Students will be prepared for college. My biggest complaint is that the school does not look after student's mental health. The faculty sees students struggling with depression and anxiety and tells them that it's part of the experience. This is absolutely unacceptable. Secondly I very much believe in the power of hard work, but this school takes it too far. It is VERY important to distinguish between work that helps students learn and grow and work that is given for the sake of giving work and of living up to a reputation. Pointless busy work has no place at an excellent school. Lastly, a third of the teachers are OUTSTANDING but there are a few completely inept teachers that weigh the school down. I dealt with an incompetent and frankly unstable new teacher this year and knew I would be ridiculed if I complained. Overall, you will get an incredible education at this school but think hard about whether or not it's worth the toll on your mental health and if you're willing to deal with some crazy stuff and be told that it's the price you made the choice to pay.