Town Square

High School Options

Original post made by New Mom, Foothill High School, on Aug 21, 2012

We are new to the area. We have a high schooler and middle schooler.
We are really disappointed in the high school for many reasons, but most importantly the issues of scheduling and teacher quality at FHS.

We'd like to look at other high school options for a freshman next year. What are some good options for high school? Is the scheduling at AVHS any better? What are some decent private options in the area?

Thanks in advance for your relevant, appropriate and thoughtful responses.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2012 at 9:57 am

If you think the quality of either P-town high school is substandard, then you need to re-set your expectations. These are among the top schools in the region. Perhaps you should try to become involved instead of whining about a system with which you're clearly not familiar?

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2012 at 11:15 am

We know people in private schools, and their kids are not doing better than the kids in the public schools here in Pleasanton. In fact, one of the kids we know (from a top private school) is now going to a community college! (nothing wrong with that, but why pay all that money just to end up in a junior college, when we have FHS and AVHS students getting accepted into top schools like MIT, Princeton, UC Berkeley, etc)

Both AVHS and FHS are very good schools.

If you must go private, look at De La Salle (for boys) and Carendolete (de la Salle's sister school). But again, we know a student from one of those schools who is now at the community college, and we know students from FHS at Princeton now....

And most private schools are catholic and/or christian, requiring bible studies for graduation.

Some private high schools in the south bay: Harker (non-religious), King's Academy (christian, 6-12, requires bible classes for graduatioin), Bellarmine (boys), Presentation (girls), Mitty (not as good, catholic)

Most catholic private schools give preference to kids from catholic families (and whose families give donations to the church) as well as kids who come from middle catholic schools)

Pleasanton is a very good school district. Yes, it has problems like all districts, but it is very good overall, and in many ways, academically much better than private schools. (one of our kids started out in a private school, and we quickly realized our mistake)

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Posted by C-Student
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Aug 21, 2012 at 1:42 pm

dear delusional:

you might need to be a little more specific as to your criticism
of the local public schools in order to get appropriate responses from this group, otherwise I suggest:


Good luck, please report back in 4 years.

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Posted by Tango
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Aug 21, 2012 at 3:46 pm

I have one grandchild that did very well at FH and is going on to Collage. I have another grand child at FH he is doing fantastic and loves the school. Every school has problems . I think that you will find that scheduling is a problem everywhere.

Cholo I see you are back and nastier then ever. Why don't you crawl in a hole and pull it in after you? Goodbye and good riddance.

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Posted by Barbar
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Aug 21, 2012 at 4:38 pm

New mom, Our kids started out in private school, but we switched to public. Both graduated from Amador. I don't know that much about Foothill, but I don't believe there is that great a difference between them. I can only speak for Amador, but there are dozens of ways for your kid(s) to excel and gain extracurricular experiences. And there are many, many AP courses offered that will allow them to receive college credit and get a head start on their college degrees. My son was able to get a double major due to this boost.

Really, the sky is the limit here, but your kid(s) have to be motivated to do well. They can easily end up in the best colleges in the nation.

Good luck! Remember, it's not all about the quality of the school. It's about the quality of the human being and learning to do well and enjoy life at the same time. Chill!!

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Posted by go private
a resident of Amador Estates
on Aug 21, 2012 at 5:10 pm

we yanked our children out of the pusd and went to a private school. ver happy with the higher level in academic quality at our private school.

however it all depends upon the child. if sports are more important than academics, then that is a different issue.

for hs, i would encourage you to look at...

quarry lane (note they have an IB program)
livermore charter prep
valley christian
college prep

i hope this helps below.
Web Link

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Posted by Tim H.
a resident of Castlewood
on Aug 21, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Most P-town parents can afford the $150-250 'donation' for their kids. But Brown shouldn't attempt to raise taxes, because I'm certain all the lower-income parents around the state are also perfectly capable of coming up with a couple of C-notes for their kids' schools.

Also, our state's government is a tragedy and the state's public works system is a travesty. We need competent leadership from the private sector -- like Castlewood's Country Club Board -- which would bring about a lot of change.

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Posted by Amador Parent
a resident of Las Positas Garden Homes
on Aug 22, 2012 at 7:54 am

Amador definately over Foothill...!!!!

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Posted by Tami
a resident of Country Fair
on Aug 22, 2012 at 8:39 am

After four kids and 20 years in Pleasanton, we have experienced local private school and both Amador and Foothill. The private schools cannot give the science and AP options and the administration at Foothill is awful now. We enjoyed Amador and my kids were successful there, they all got into UCs and were well prepared to do well.
With such large schools you are going to have some disappointing teachers but overall we found them to be very good at both schools and I do not know what you are concerned about with scheduling. Weren't you complaining about registration last year too? Hmmm.....

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Posted by Farrah
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Aug 22, 2012 at 8:51 am

My daughter is a junior high at amador valley and she's doing fantastic. It really depends on the child and how much you as a parent challenge them on weekly basis.

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Posted by Foothill Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2012 at 8:58 am

New Mom,
I know it can be unsettling to enter a new school district but I want to assure you that your freshman will have the opportunity to receive a top-notch education at Foothill High School. I have three children that are Falcons. My oldest is now studying at a prestigious university and the other two are thriving in school. Yes, there are a couple of sub-par teachers at FHS. The same holds true for AVHS. But for the most part the teachers are very good. And yes, scheduling is an issue at both schools because we are dealing with huge budget issues that limit class sections. That is sign of the times.

I hope you will stay at Foothill and join the parent groups that are working to raise money for our school. You will not find a more fun, kind, and hard-working group of parents and these qualities are reflected in most of the student body as well.

Good luck!

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Posted by Dear Tami
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2012 at 9:04 am

Dear Tami - "administration at Foothill is awful now" is an interesting statement given the recent VP swap due to funding decisions. Amador now has Foothill's most senior VP and Foothill has Amador's ex-English Dept head as their VP. The Foothill community had an opportunity to meet Leslie the past 2 days. She's completely engaged and she made a GREAT first impression.

The reality is that both Ptown high schools are excellent and have proven track records when it comes to producing college ready kids. Each has their niche. Each has their challenges--especially under the current budget situation.

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Posted by Luanne
a resident of Heritage Oaks
on Aug 22, 2012 at 9:43 am

Tami, I think the previous comment "Foothill Admin is awful now" applies to the recent past years. As a parent of a '12 grad I must agree that the Admin has been less than desirable. Although my grad is now a freshman at a prestigious private school, I credit her and "a couple" good teachers at Foothill. I also have a sophomore at Foothill and am VERY EXCITED about a new VP! Things could ONLY improve!

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Posted by ccon44
a resident of Castlewood
on Aug 22, 2012 at 9:45 am

I have one child at Amador and one at Foothill ..... and one in elementary school. Both my older kids started at a "private school" and transferred in to PUSD in late elementary & middle school.

My daughter, who was in the small advanced academic program while at the private school goes to Amador and continues to thrive in public school (never skipped a beat). My son who was an A-student in private school 'mainstream classes' definitely came in to the public school system behind in his foundational skills. He struggled to catch-up his first few years.

All this to say I echo the predominant message of above commenters: The public school system in Pleasanton is stellar. Yes, it's riddled with budgetary woes which have taken it down a notch however, plenty of kids are thriving and getting into top-tier 4 year colleges. My daughter is scheduled for 4-AP classes this year (her junior year) and is involved in a plethora of academic clubs and school activities as well as sports. My son, at Foothill, has just as many opportunities at hand, yet doesn't have that same over-achieving spirit as my girl, thus hasn't taken advantage of all the same opportunities at Foothill (aside from the team sports, that is).

Most scheduling conflicts will get worked out....ESPECIALLY if they carry academic implications and/or were the school's error; not that of a child or parent that changed their mind and/or didn't pay attention/ attend the informational meetings. As a general rule the schools will give priority to changing schedules if the class in question is academic and may hinder student's college app. viability. A school is less inclined to change 'electives'.

My guess is if you got resistance to a scheduling change request, some of the fault lies with you/ your kid. With budget cuts the number of classes available is tight and leaves little wiggle-room for the administration come late August; staffing is down to a science- they don't have the luxury of having half-full classrooms to appease every fickle kid or ill-conceived schedule !!

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Posted by Adelle
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2012 at 9:54 am

I am soooo tired of hearing "budget constraints" used as an excuse in this school district. My family has been in this school district for 13 years, K-13. What does the budget have to do with a Kindergarten teacher absent at least 1 day a week all year, teachers who don't even like kids teaching elementary school, and a high school with an AP teacher arrested in a drug sting after the admin knew for years she was using. How about teachers who stop teaching Seniors in April and show movies or encourage you tube for the last 8 weeks of school? The problem is THE TEACHER'S UNION and until teachers can be fired like the rest of us, nothing will ever change.

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Posted by Pleasanton Neighbor
a resident of Foothill High School
on Aug 22, 2012 at 10:00 am

Wow, if you are not happy with the highs schools in Pleasanton then you must come from either Mission High in Fremont or a school in

Private school is not the answer. We have 3 kids and over the years had them attend various different "Christian" schools. We found the favortism shown to the families that were big spenders and attended all Christian functions was overwhelmingly unfair. Most of the awards went to these kids; they got to be first string in sports. Heck at one 8th grade graduation the pastor's daughter was allowed to wear a mini dress (not allowed) with spagetti straps (also not allowed) that other girls were not. When one of our son's was in soccer apparently somebody did not order enough trophies, so, you guessed it, my son went without while the teacher in charge made sure that her son did get one.
On top of that the teachers are not accredited.
We are done with the non-existent "Christan" attitude". They are some of the most prejudiced people we have encountered.

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Posted by Barbara
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Aug 22, 2012 at 10:19 am

I have nothing bad to say about Pleasanton schools but if you are looking for a quality Private School, check out Head-Royce in Oakland. I know this personally because I spent eight wonderful years there. It is on Lincoln Ave below and across the street from the Mormon Temple. It is a bit of a commitment to drive your children there from here but well worth it!
And again, I'm not putting down Pleasanton schools, just giving you a private school option.

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Posted by V.Venkatesan
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2012 at 3:50 pm

My two daughters went to FHS , received 1600 SATs, attended Stanford and Duke undergrad, UCSF and Duke Med. schools and are Dermatologists now. You get what you put into it. Parents need to be heavily involved in the process. My daughters have done better than any private school students that I know of. They were also at the top in their undergraduate and medical school classes. It is definitely possible and they had a very happy education with lots of friends, activities such as sports and Band. I can't think of any place that would be better.

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Posted by g
a resident of Amador Estates
on Aug 22, 2012 at 4:02 pm

congrats. curious, what were your daughters' class ranks at fhs. my guess is that they were the exception and not the norm at fhs.

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Posted by V.Venkatesan
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2012 at 4:22 pm

They were both valedictorians. My daughters will kill me if they knew I was posting. I just wanted to let the lady know that it is possible. They were exceptional but ultimately it is hard work and the involvement of the parents as much as the school. You need a decent school but you don't have to pay $25K as in Harker. I know several Harker students (In fact all the ones I know) that have done much worse.

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Posted by Handzadabi
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 22, 2012 at 8:51 pm

If you are going to talk about De La Salle or Carondelet number one --Fist learn how to spell the girls school AND number two-Carondelet is NOT the sister school of DLS! different religious organizations run each school. I can say-I would never send my kids to either one (my sibling and I both attended each school). my daughter attended Granada. she learned more at Granada then I ever learned at CHS or DLS. Many students at public school (Granada and Livermore) have received full ride scholarships at Ivy league schools including Harvard, Yale and MIT) yes kids from Livermore, CA are smart

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Posted by member
a resident of Foothill High School
on Aug 22, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Two of my four children are FHS graduates and are currently students at UCLA and UC Irvine. We are pretty much a moderate income, average Joe family, whose kids have been sparked by some great teachers and supported by family and FHS friends. I have great respect for AVHS as well. Both schools have flaws, as all do, and as anyone your children will work with/for in their futures may. It's life lessons. We're getting a very good shake here in Pleasanton. That's why our family chose this town 14 years ago. Good luck, and become involved if possible (complaining isn't the only option).

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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Aug 26, 2012 at 9:53 am

Sandy is a registered user.

Hi, New Mom from Foothill, thank you for asking your question in a respectful way. I hope that you are able to glean some useful information from all the comments you have already received.

I know very little about private high schools in the area. The two I have not already seen mentioned are the Quarry Lane School, with a high school campus in Dublin which offers the International Baccalaureate as well as two other "tracks" for grades 9-12; and the Athenian, in Danville, grades 6-12 with option for students to board from 9-12.

I do know Pleasanton schools fairly well, but don't have any kids old enough to be in high school already. I have some concerns that the high schools are very large (each is over 2000 students, I think) but I am not worrying about it too much before we get there.

If I understood you correctly, your high schooler has been at Foothill for one year, and your middle schooler is starting 8th grade this year. It might be useful to connect informally with other parents of middle schoolers who also have high schoolers or recent graduates from both Foothill and Amador. Also, some of the teachers at the middle school may have children who are in high school now (either at Foothill or at Amador), and might be willing to share their personal impressions.

It is possible to transfer from Foothill to Amador, and it is also possible for an 8th grader headed for Foothill could "open enroll" at Amador for 9th grade. The best way to learn the official process to do this is to speak with a staff member in the district office. Try calling the Educational Services office at 426-4332 and ask who the best person would be to explain the process to you.

If your 8th grader is at Hart or Harvest Park, you could email me if you want help finding other parents with older students in high school (piderit at me dot com). Board member Joan Laursen has children who attended Amador, and board member Jeff Bowser has children who attended Foothill. Their contact info is at this webpage:

Web Link

I hope this helps!

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Posted by Been there
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2012 at 12:04 am

All I can tell you is that all my kids went to Amador and have done very well..

Our friends in Boston sent their kids to a very prestigious private school, costing 35,000 a year (they did this for TWO kids!). Their oldest child went to Santa Clara, majoring in electrical engineering, right after our daughter graduated from Santa Clara. The way I look at it, we saved 35K a year for 4 years of high school. That's 140K that the other family spent that we did not. Now, that's a lot of money for the same result.

Our youngest son will graduate with honors from 'the' major university in Chicago. We paid 34K a year for his tuition/board but....we did not pay for a private high school.

Amador is a great high school. I'm sure Foothill is great as well. It's all what you put into it.