The College Preparatory School
|The College Preparatory School|
"Mens Conscia Recti"'
A mind aware of what is right
Oakland, California 94618
|School type||Private, College Preparatory|
|Head of School||Monique DeVane|
|Student to teacher ratio||8:1|
The College Preparatory School (CPS), is a four-year private coeducational day high school in Oakland, California. The school's motto is mens conscia recti, a Latin phrase borrowed from Vergil's Aeneid that means "a mind aware of what is right."
The school's strict academics and small size have translated into an admissions rate lower than many American colleges and universities. In turn many students from College Prep go on to study at America's top universities, and approximately one-third of each graduating class matriculates into Ivy League schools, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or Stanford University.
College Prep has received a number of accolades for the quality of its faculty and its academic rigor. A 2007 Wall Street Journal article ranked College Prep as the sixth best high school in the world in terms of its students' "success rate" in enrolling in America's most selective universities, a statistic calculated by collecting information from college admissions offices records of their freshmen classes. In April 2010, Forbes Magazine ranked College Prep as the seventeenth best private school in the United States in terms of caliber of instruction, quality of facilities, and overall academic achievement.
College Prep was founded in September 1960, sited in a small, 19th-century clapboard house in the Claremont district of Oakland and Berkeley, California. The school was founded by Ruth Willis and Mary Harley Jenks. Jenks, a UC Berkeley graduate and former head of the Bentley School, wanted to create a school in the Bay Area that valued "high standards of scholarship and conduct." Unlike many university-preparatory schools, College Prep does not have a proper name, as the founders thought the name's directness reflected a straightforward, "unambiguous" approach to education. The five-room schoolhouse was built on recently constructed cement block structure and held just eight classrooms.
Because the school was non-profit, its limited enrollment and small size was not economical – furthermore, the small campus precluded expansion in the arts and athletics. The school's Board of Trustees determined that expanded enrollment and a larger campus was necessary, but did not want to sacrifice what they saw as an "intimate" and "intense" environment, that only a small campus could provide. In the early seventies, enrollment pressures began to increase as College Prep's reputation grew, and as a result of increasing discontent with California public schools (See: U.S. education crisis). In 1982 the Board began to plan a move to a larger campus, and it purchased sixteen portable wooden classroom buildings from the Oakland Unified School District placed on a six-acre parcel of land on Broadway Avenue. Many of these buildings are still in use today.
College Prep celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2010. To commemorate the event, decorative street-post banners were affixed at the Rockridge BART station. To celebrate, a special edition of the KALW radio show West Coast Live was broadcast from the College Prep campus, with guests, journalist Anna Quindlen and novelist Roddy Doyle. An "All-Alumni Reunion" was held in April, and a community-wide celebration was held in September.
The construction of the Broadway campus accompanied a concerted effort to bring to prominence the school's location in the "shadow-of Berkeley" by capturing the cultural heritage of the city. This approach included the creation of a large central courtyard that serves as the center of daily activity to create intimacy and a sense of community between students and faculty. In December 1982, the new campus was finished and the school made its official move. As enrollment grew following the expansion, a six-classroom building and music, art, and gymnasium facilities have been added. A concentrated science department was built with robust laboratory facilities.
The Broadway campus is situated in a eucalyptus-lined ravine near the Oakland Hills. It sits almost exactly on the western edge of the area burned by the 1991 Oakland firestorm, and narrowly escaped destruction in that disaster. After igniting the upper Rockridge neighborhood, flames advanced partway down a hill at the southern end of the campus before it was fought back by firefighters and local volunteers; two members of the Oakland Fire Department were later honored for their role in saving the school.
In 2008, the Board planned a new series of significant expansions to the school. The facilities plan includes a new World Languages building and English building, as well as a Performing Arts center. Ground was broken in June 2010, and the first phase of the construction wasbe completed in Fall 2011. The primary goal of the expansion is to modernize the school, and prepare students for "21st-century opportunities." Toward that end, new academic facilities will be equipped with SMART Boards and LED projectors to integrate technology into the learning experience.
Robert Baldwin, a former Head of School, described the duty of College Prep teachers to maintain an "authentic presence in the classroom", that promotes openness between teachers and students. A College Prep English teacher, when asked in an interview for the book "Conversations With Great Teachers", described Baldwin as seeking teachers who "give off an aura of someone who is in the right place", by nourishing interest in students. For that reason, the curriculum at College Prep is created with "creativity", "independent thought", and "ethical sensitivity" as its primary goals. Students are not distinguished between enrollment in "honors" and standard courses, as all classes are taught at the "honors" level, and are designated as such by the University of California. Students’ grade point averages are calculated on an unweighted 4.0 scale. Students are required to take three years of core curricular classes and an extra year of English.
In order to facilitate the discursive nature of College Prep's rigorous English curriculum, classes are conducted at Harkness tables: oval, wooden tables popularized by philanthropist Edward Harkness when he presented the tables to Phillips Exeter Academy in the 1930s. Harkness believed that the tables encouraged students to actively participate in discussion, and that they constituted a "revolution" in liberal arts education. Because the number of Harkness tables currently available for classes is limited, the second phase of the school's facilities project will put the tables in all English classrooms.
As freshmen and sophomores, College Prep students learn basic composition and analytical writing through close reading of works from the literary canon, such as Homer's Odyssey, J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, Kafka's The Metamorphosis, and the works of Shakespeare. Juniors and seniors then use these skills to conduct classes in seminar format, modeled after college-level English courses, interpreting texts through Socratic dialogue. One recent seminar is "Rebels With a Cause", an exploration of the motivations and convictions of literary protagonists "willing to die for a cause", and includes analysis of Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls, and Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Another recent seminar is entitled "Narrations Strange", and involves a close study of madness; Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five and Nabokov's Pale Fire are analyzed in order to understand the minds of unreliable narrators in celebrated literature. Because of the seminar format, formal Advanced Placement English courses are not offered, but many students still take the exam.
College Prep students must take courses in world history, western civilization, and United States history. As with the majority of College Prep classes, formal Advanced Placement classes are not offered, but the history department offers extracurricular preparation for interested students. After the mandatory history curriculum has been completed, seniors are offered seminar-format elective classes. These courses regularly include introductory economics, linguistics, and United States government. Recently, seminars have been offered involving critical study into the American Civil War and Reconstruction, American history after World War II, American protest movements, and comparative religion. Each year, a College Prep student is awarded the Myron Markel Prize, established by psychiatrist Bennett Markel in honor of his brother, to award exemplary critical analysis in writing about history.
College Prep offers five-year programs in French, Japanese, and Spanish and four-year programs in Mandarin Chinese and Latin. Advanced levels of all world language classes are Advanced Placement preparatory. In order to facilitate some degree of language immersion, at around the second year of study English is no longer used in language classrooms.
Advanced Spanish and French students conduct classes in seminar format, where students are immersed in particular aspects of their respective language's culture or literature through Socratic debate. Recent Spanish elective seminars include a class in advanced conversational skills, Spanish literature, and creative writing, including a study of contemporary Spanish literary movements like magic realism. Another Spanish language seminar explores Hispanic culture and involves close study of historical trends and current events in the Spanish-speaking world. A recent French seminar analyzed French literature and film, including Begag's Le Gone du Chaâba and Molière's L'école des femmes.
College Prep's Latin curriculum places emphasis on ancient Roman literature and history. For two years the Cambridge Latin Course is used extensively, before students advance to studies of Catiline and Cicero through Sallust's Bellum Catilinae and Cicero's In Catilinam. Advanced students study Vergil's Aeneid and write series of analytical essays in preparation for the Advanced Placement Latin examination. The Latin program participates in the local chapter of the California Junior Classical League, and all Latin students take the National Latin Exam annually.
The school's new Mandarin program seeks to provide a strong foundation in Chinese speaking and writing, with some study of Chinese culture. Students learn simplified Chinese characters before being introduced to the traditional script. As with all College Prep world language courses, Chinese becomes the only language of instruction, after two years of study. The Japanese program places greater emphasis on cultural aspects of Japanese language education. Japanese visitors regularly visit the campus to provide cultural presentations and serve as conversation partners. Classes focus heavily on Japanese literature and film, including the works of Hayao Miyazaki and Akira Kurosawa. The curriculum is compliant with the National Standards for Japanese Language Learning.
Instead of requiring the use of a traditional textbook, College Prep's math department writes its own practice problems and course materials, and conducts lessons primarily within a lecture and discursive format. College Prep breaks with the typical pre-college sequence of mathematics courses in the United States (See: Mathematics education in the United States) and follows an integrated curriculum that combines numerous topics and strands of mathematics throughout the year. For this reason, classes are generically designated Math I through VI. Despite the integrated format, each section does maintain a concentration on a core mathematical field; Math I (algebra), Math II (geometry), Math III (trigonometry), Math IV (applied mathematics and analysis), Math V (AB & BC calculus), and Math VI (multivariable calculus).
College Prep's mathematics curriculum combines visual, auditory, and kinesthetic instruction to learn concepts and skills. Classes are conducted in small, cooperative groups, and often involve introductory computational science through calculators and laptop computers. This format carries over to the schools' Math Club, which also competes in American Mathematics Competitions and often qualifies students for the American Invitational Mathematics Examination and United States of America Mathematical Olympiad.
College Prep's science program establishes a foundation in scientific principles by requiring interdisciplinary study. While most public high schools teach introductory biology courses to freshmen, College Prep follows the Physics First model of teaching basic concepts of physics to ninth grade students within an integrated laboratory format. After completing courses in chemistry and molecular and environmental biology, students often elect to take Advanced Placement Physics, Chemistry, and Environmental Science courses. Elective classes are offered in astronomy, science ethics, animal behavior, and organic chemistry. Members of the science department operate a "Green Council" devoted to environmental sustainability initiatives and facilitating the "greening" of the College Prep campus.
College Prep students are required to fulfill the University of California Visual and Performing Arts education requirement by completing two semesters of arts classes within two disciplines. The Arts department therefore offers courses in visual arts, drama, music and dance, and conducts collaborative productions between disciplines, such as musical theatre shows, and concert arts tours around California. A dedicated teaching space and performing arts center is planned as part of the school's ongoing facilities modernization.
The Visual Arts department teaches foundation- and advanced-level classes on creative and technical skills in drawing and design. College Prep also has a dedicated darkroom for photography students, who study film development and digital image making. Students who pass a portfolio review by the Visual Arts faculty are allowed to prepare individually for the Advanced Placement Studio Art examination.
The Drama program is centered around its Acting class and conducts two major drama productions each year, and is supported by stagecraft, drama tech, and digital video production classes. Drama at College Prep was recently recognized as one of the top drama programs in the country, and was invited to perform in the American High School Theatre Festival in 2007, part of the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland.
Students in the Music program often perform in instrumental ensembles, performing both standard and "pop" repertoire. The orchestra, jazz band, and chamber music group organize regular concerts and attend the biennial music tour of California with the other Arts programs. The school also has a dedicated chorus and vocal ensemble. Many students participate in the non-audition Chorus class, but advanced singers can audition for an Advanced Vocal Ensemble. Members of the A.V.E. are regularly selected to perform in the prestigious National Honor Choir organized by the American Choral Directors Association. Alumni of the A.V.E. also often participate in popular collegiate singing groups, such as the Harvard Din & Tonics.
Dance classes are offered at all levels, and students perform in high school dance festivals, senior centers, and in theaters throughout the Bay Area. The dance program focuses on modern dance with an emphasis on African American choreographers, and teaches the techniques of Lester Horton, José Limón, Martha Graham, Katherine Dunham, and Alvin Ailey. Guest choreographers regularly visit the school to teach students. Dance is highly popular at College Prep, and the program usually has around 70 dancers at one time.
In an attempt to combine technology and student life, the school operates three full-service computer labs and four classrooms fully equipped with laptop computers. Each faculty member is provided a laptop for classroom instruction. Beginning with the Class of 2014, every incoming student is provided an Apple MacBook Pro computer, with the aim of universally integrating technology into the curriculum. The program is financed by a supplementary "technology fee" to the tuition. Families may opt out of the school-purchase plan if they purchase their own equipment. When a student graduates, the computer belongs to them.
Academics center around an advisor system that matches each student with a faculty member who help students to organize their schedules and provide guidance, while serving as a liaison between students' parents and the school. Senior mentors help freshmen facilitate their transition into high school. College Prep also offers counseling and health education programs conducted by a full-time health educator and counselor, a trained child psychologist, who provides comprehensive support to students and conducts a mandatory health program for sophomores intended to introduce them to health topics and encourage them to make healthful choices.
College Prep has an intensive and individualized counseling process for college admissions - two counselors are staffed full-time, and students begin regularly meeting with their assigned counselor beginning in the middle of their junior year. Current college counselors have previously served as directors of admission at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University. Individual meetings take place weekly, and students are required to attend periodic workshops regarding the admissions process.
College Prep students have robust involvement in community service projects. Students participate in service efforts as a class - sophomores and seniors are involved in maintenance projects at Point Reyes, and juniors cooperate with Rebuilding Together to assist in various projects around the Bay Area. Students also cook for men and women's shelters in Oakland. In addition, schoolwide participation in Oxfam and Amnesty International is common.
The school organizes a number of special retreats for each class. Freshman retreat is conducted at the Headlands campus of the Yosemite Institute, north of the Golden Gate Bridge, and is designed to help students adjust to high school. Sophomores retreat on the American River and participate in a whitewater rafting trip. Junior retreat is an exercise in leadership training and involves extensive group discussion and activities on an outdoor ropes course. Seniors do community service at Point Reyes and discuss the transition from high school to college, providing an informal setting to say goodbye before graduation.
A Diversity Coordinator facilitates discussion of diversity among faculty, staff, and students. Students attend the yearly conference for People of Color in Independent Schools and stage regular events such as forums, guest speakers, and classroom discussions. The Diversity Center also heads a "Freshman Foundations" program that introduces students to challenges of diversity that occur in high school. Students also participate in the school's various cultural diversity organizations.
An Intraterm period takes place in the week before spring break, and consists of special courses, field studies and internships offered to students outside of the regular curriculum. Recent Intraterm classes include "U.S. History through 'The Enemy' in American Cinema," a study of 20th century American history through depictions of enemies in American cinema, and "Art on the Run," a field study of art and culture through trips to Bay Area museums and landmarks, such as the Gates of Hell at Stanford University and The Thinker at the Palace of the Legion of Honor. Juniors may opt out of Intraterm classes or trips in order to visit colleges. Annual participation in Intraterm is a graduation requirement.
College Prep athletics has a variety of interscholastic teams, though some field sports such as football are not offered because College Prep does not own a field. Because of the school's small size, and the school policy of exempting students from Physical Education classes during a semester of participation, the percent of students who join sports teams is exceptionally high; over 20% of Prep students were on the soccer team in 2007, for example.
College Prep is one of ten schools in the Bay Counties League - East. The school's mascot is the Cougar, and the school colors are blue, maroon, and white. The CPS rival is the Jayhawk of Head-Royce School.
As a separate component of the school's modernization and expansion project, the Board also negotiated the unrestricted use of the Tom Bates Fields, an athletic compound adjacent to the Golden Gate Fields, for use by College Prep athletics.
The school has a competitive policy debate team, which has reached elimination rounds at multiple national tournaments, including winning the national Tournament of Champions in 2003 and reaching the final round of the National Speech and Debate Tournament in 2004 and 2012. Alumni of the College Prep debate program have gone on to win the prestigious Rex Copeland Award for the top-ranked college policy debate team in the country as well as reach late elimination rounds of the National Debate Tournament. In 2010, the debate program qualified three teams to both the Tournament of Champions and the National Speech and Debate Tournament. College Prep's Lincoln-Douglas debate team also competes regularly competes at the Tournament of Champions, the National Speech and Debate Tournament, and the California State Championship. In 2008, a College Prep Lincoln-Douglas debater placed third in the California State Championship.
In addition to its debate team, College Prep hosts an annual round-robin policy debate tournament known as the "California Round Robin" every February, where top policy debate teams in the country are invited to participate. Rounds are held on the school campus and in conference rooms provided by the Oakland office of the Reed Smith law firm. The California Round Robin is unique from traditional tournaments in that the school invites experts on the year's resolution to judge the final round. Because the final round is held the night before the popular California Invitational tournament at UC Berkeley, it is usually well attended by the invitational's competitors.
The debate team is supported by an endowment from the Julia Burke Foundation, and the foundation offers a scholarship to both the "Debater of the Year" at College Prep and the Julia Burke Flame for Excellence scholarship at the national policy debate Tournament of Champions in memory of Julia Burke, a young debater who died in a car accident while a student at College Prep.
There is no official chess team as CPS. However, CPS has had several nationally ranked chess players, including the California State chess champion and the bronze medalist at the World Youth Chess Championship. There is a strong chess presence on campus, including several chess sets near the gymnasium that receive regular use.
Events and traditions
- The school newspaper is the "College Prep Radar", and the yearbook is known as Entropy.
- Every year the school features a large scale performing arts event, alternating yearly between a musical and music "tour", where the Chorus, AVE, Jazz Band, Orchestra, Chamber Music, and Intermediate and Advanced Dance classes perform around California. Also, there are music concerts, art exhibitions, and dance shows several times each semester on the school's campus.
- "Snow Trip" is a three-day all-school trip to Bear Valley in the Sierra Nevadas after semester finals in January
- "CPS Day" is a morning of alternative education and an afternoon of work assignments for the benefit of the school grounds
- "Intraterm" is a week in the middle of spring semester which affords students the opportunity to travel on an organized trip or take or teach alternative classes.
- Students participate in various community-awareness activities such as Oxfam and Adopt-a-Family.
- "Senior Ditch Day" is a healthy College Prep tradition where seniors decorate the school with elaborate signs and artwork, adhering to one unified theme. It generally takes place in the last few weeks of school, and is actually condoned and chaperoned by several faculty members, who remove content that is in poor taste.
Tuition and endowment
Tuition for the 2011-2012 school year is $32,580, with 24 percent of the student body receiving need-based grants.
College Prep's endowment is very low compared to other schools of its caliber. According to PrepReview.com, endowment is currently $11 million, or about $30,000 per student. The average endowment for the top 30 day schools listed on the site is $46 million.
The mean SAT Reasoning Test scores (on a scale of 200-800) for the College Prep Class of 2010 were 712 critical reading, 700 math and 700 writing. The most recent national averages were 501 critical reading, 515 math and 493 writing. In 2010, 146 students took 280 Advanced Placement exams in 19 different subjects with 95% of the scores 3 or higher.
- Cher Wang (1977), billionaire founder of smartphone company HTC (High Tech Computer Corporation).
- Chris Tashima (1978), Academy Award-winning filmmaker and actor.
- David Marchick (1984), former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and director of intergovernmental affairs in the Office of the United States Trade Representative under the Clinton Administration, currently Managing Director and Global Head of Regulatory Affairs of the Carlyle Group
- Edie Meidav (1984), novelist and recipient of the Lannan Literary Fellowship.
- Carol Chodroff (1988), United States Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch.
- Ian Agol (1988), mathematician and professor at the University of California, Berkeley
- Eric Robbins (1990), author of The Casual Conservationist
- Zachary Coile (1991), communications director for California senator Barbara Boxer, former editor at the San Francisco Chronicle.
- Christin Evans (1991), owner of San Francisco independent bookstore Booksmith.
- Johanna Fateman (1992), zine editor and member of feminist post-punk rock band Le Tigre.
- Miranda July (1992), performance artist, writer, and filmmaker.
- Romesh Ratnesar (1992), World Editor and member of senior editorial staff at TIME magazine.
- Siobahn Carpenter (1993), international correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.
- Kat Foster (1996), actress.
- David Pruess (1999), International Master, U. S. Chess Federation.
- Justin Rosenstein (2001), former Facebook and Google software engineer, co-creator of Asana with Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz.
- Elliot Tarloff (2001), aide to former Vice President Al Gore and researcher for An Inconvenient Truth.
- Samuel Shankland (2009), Grandmaster, U. S. Chess Federation.
- "America's Best Prep Schools" Forbes, 29 April 2010
- "How the Schools Stack Up", Wall Street Journal, 20 November 2007
- Becoming A Real School 1960-1990 : The Story of The College Preparatory School by Robert Baldwin, Jr. Berkeley, California: Regent Press, 2004.
- "History of CPS"The College Preparatory School, via Wayback Machine, 5 January 2007.
- Radar Special 2.pdf "College Prep Celebrates Turning Fifty With Local Publicity and Exciting Events"The College Prep Radar, April 2010
- "Our 50th Anniversary"The College Preparatory School,no date.
- "Science" The College Preparatory School, no date.
- "Social Response to the 1991 Oakland-Berkeley Firestorm" Doreen Jeffrey, Cal State University - Long Beach.
- "Facilities Projects" The College Preparatory School, no date.
- ["Conversations With Great Teachers"] by Bill Smoot. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2010.
- "Academics" The College Preparatory School, no date.
- "English (Overview)" The College Preparatory School, no date.
- Christophe G. Courchesne, "'A Suggestion of a Fundamental Nature': Imagining a Legal Education of Solely Electives Taught as Discussions", Rutgers Law Record 29, no. 21 (2005): 26.
- "English (Seminars)" The College Preparatory School, no date.
- "History (Overview)"The College Preparatory School, no date.
- "History (Electives)"The College Preparatory School, no date.
- "History (Markel Prize)"The College Preparatory School, no date.
- "World Languages"The College Preparatory School, no date.
- "Spanish (Spanish IV/V)"The College Preparatory School", no date.
- "Spanish (French IV/V)"The College Preparatory School", no date.
- "Latin (Overview)"The College Preparatory School, no date.
- "Latin (Latin IV/V: AP Vergil)"The College Preparatory School, no date.
- "Chinese (Overview)"The College Preparatory School, no date.
- "Japanese (Overview)"The College Preparatory School, no date.
- "Math (Overview)"The College Preparatory School", no date.
- "Science (Integrated Lab Science)The College Preparatory School, no date.
- "Science (Electives)The College Preparatory School, no date.
- "Where to Begin..."CPS Green Council, 17 November 2008.
- "The Arts"The College Preparatory School, no date.
- "Visual Arts"The College Preparatory School, no date.
- "Drama"The College Preparatory School, no date.
- "2009 National Honor Choir Concerts"American Choral Directors Association, 7 March 2009.
- "The Harvard Din & Tonics"The Harvard Din & Tonics, 2009-2010.
- "Dance"The College Preparatory School, no date.
- "Technology" The College Preparatory School, no date.
- "College Counseling" The College Preparatory School, no date.
- "Community Service" The College Preparatory School, no date.
- "Retreat Program" The College Preparatory School, no date.
- "The Diversity Center" The College Preparatory School, no date.
- "Intraterm" The College Preparatory School, no date.
- "National Winners"National Forensic League Rostrum, September 2004.
- "Copeland Award for Top First Round At-Large Team"National Debate Tournament – American Forensic Association, no date.
- "Field Report: TOC"Victory Briefs Daily, 16 April 2010
- "College Prep Debate Team"Give Youth a Voice, 2010.
- "State Tournament"California High School Speech Association"
- "Pine Crest, Glenbrook North in California Round Robin Exhibition Round"Victory Briefs Daily, 21 February 2007.
- "Julia Burke Foundation". Julia Burke Foundation. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
- "The College Preparatory School: About College Prep » School Overview". College-prep.org. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
- “With Smartphones, Cher Wang Made Her Own Fortune” ‘’New York Times’’, 26 October 2008.
- "David M. Marchick" The Carlyle Group, no date.
- "Carlye Group Names David Marchick Global Head Regulatory Affairs" Fierce Finance, 26 September 2007
- “Carol Chodroff” ‘’Huffington Post’’, no date.
- "Zachary Coile, other familiar names exit San Francisco Chronicle" San Francisco Business Times, 8 April 2009
- "Kat Foster" Superior Pics, no date.
- "Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz leaves for start-up" Los Angeles Times, 3 October 2008
- “College Preparatory School Spring Newsletter”, 2007
- "Shankland Nears GM Norm in Berkeley!"