Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Big decisions

I just got a call from Hamza, he has landed in Dallas, so only one more leg of the trip left before he is home. I can't wait to have him back with us, this has been a looooong two weeks!

As I have mentioned before, Safa has been at the Alabama School of Fine Arts during eighth grade. Well it has been a grueling, but very productive year from her, and after some initial hiccups in the first semester she managed to get very good grades by the end of the year. But recently there has been some friction between the Executive Director/ Board of Trustees, and the faculty, students and parents, mostly of the Math and Science department. Certain AP courses are being eliminated, and although this itself would probably not adversely affect Safa in a really bad way, it made us think about other school options for a while. Now some decisions at the school are final, and personally I feel that the Math and Science department will remain pretty strong, although within the next couple of years some of ASFA's best know science faculty members are retiring. But who's to say they might not end up getting replaced with teachers that are even better for our kids? So I feel pretty confident about ASFA as a whole.

Now on to those 'other options' I just mentioned. We know that Safa does not want to go back to Hewitt for several different reasons. And I wouldn't be thrilled about putting her in private school; frankly I'd rather put that extra money towards her college education. Another option we have been looking at is one we didn't really consider until just now. Jefferson County (where we live) is home to one of the top public high schools in the country. Last year it's didn't make it to Newsweek's 'best high schools' list, not because it wasn't good enough, but it fell into another category above this list, as the 'elite' of all public high schools. Overall Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School has consistently ranked among the top four schools or better for the past several years. According to Newsweek's 2010 list of America's Best High Schools, JCIB is ranked number 2 in the country among public schools. The IB curriculum is quite different; more integrated that a conventional high school curriculum, and a lot of emphasis is placed on reading and writing, as well as a requirement of 150 hours of community service before you can graduate. Both ASFA and IB require a senior essay/research paper for graduation. Well, the more we discussed it, the more Safa felt that she was missing out on all the extra curricular activities she had been involved in before ASFA. So she applied, and got an acceptance letter in the mail within a few days. So after even more discussion of the pros and cons of each school, she has decided to switch and join the IB program from ninth grade onwards. So from one excellent school to another, very different, but just as good school. Let's hope she made the right decision!

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