The College Preparatory School

The College Preparatory School (CPS or College Prep) is a four-year private non-residential high school in Oakland, California most known for its placement rates into elite colleges[1] and its speech and debate program. The school's motto is Mens Conscia Recti, a Latin phrase adapted from Virgil's Aeneid that means "a mind aware of what is right".

The College Preparatory School
6100 Broadway


United States
Coordinates37°50′54.41″N 122°14′23.89″W / 37.8484472°N 122.2399694°W / 37.8484472; -122.2399694
School typePrivate, college preparatory
MottoMens Conscia Recti
(A mind aware of what is right)
Head of SchoolMonique DeVane
Enrollment370 (2020–21)
Student to teacher ratio8:1
Team nameCougars
NewspaperThe Radar

History edit

Founder Mary Harley Jenks at the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Broadway campus, 10 May 1980

Founded in 1960, College Prep's first campus was located in a house in the Claremont neighborhood of Oakland/Berkeley. The school was founded by Mary Harley Jenks, former head of the Bentley School and Ruth Willis. Miss Jenks, the first Head of School, envisioned a school that valued "high standards of scholarship and conduct."[2] In 1983 College Prep moved to its current campus on Broadway.

College Prep has received accolades for its academic excellence. A 2007 Wall Street Journal article ranked College Prep as the sixth best high school in the United States.[3] In 2010, Forbes magazine ranked College Prep as the seventeenth best private school in the United States.[4] In 2016, ranked College Prep the fourteenth best private school in the nation.[5] For 2020, ranked College Prep the fourth best private school in the nation.

College Prep's Heads of School have been Mary Harley Jenks (1960–1969), Robert Baldwin, Jr. (1969–1990), Clint Wilkins (1990–1994), Janet Schwartz (1994–1999), Murray Cohen (1999–2011), and Monique DeVane (2011–present). [citation needed]

Campus edit

College Prep campus, April 2020

At the current campus, a large central courtyard serves as the center of daily activity to create intimacy and a sense of community between students and faculty.[2] Major projects have been the Scott MacPherson Stapleton World Languages and Cultures Building (created and dedicated in 2011), a new campus master plan (completed in 2014), and in 2020 the school began work on the Hill Project,[6] a new array of buildings on the upper left of campus. In addition, during the COVID-19 pandemic they leased space at a nearby training center named Seneca[7] and began to host some classes there.

As of January 2022, the Hill Project has been completed, and the Seneca campus lease has ended.

Curriculum edit

English edit

A Harkness table being used in a College Prep freshman English class

In the first two years of English at College Prep, students are sorted into classes that all read similar (or the same) books and have no specific focus. In student's Junior and Senior years, however, they are allowed to select seminars with specific focuses (for example Russian literature).

In order to facilitate discussion, classes are conducted at Harkness tables: oval, wooden tables popularized by philanthropist Edward Harkness. Harkness believed that the tables encouraged students to actively participate in discussion, and that they constituted a "revolution" in liberal arts education.[8]

History edit

The first three years of history have a preset focus. Freshmen take Asian Worlds where they look at the history of India and China from its founding to the modern day. Sophomores take Atlantic Worlds which explores the development of the European and American history from the conclusion of the crusades through the end of the Enlightenment. Juniors take American Worlds to learn about the history of the United States as a nation, in part building off of the work the previous year in Atlantic Worlds. In their Senior year, students take seminars similar to those in English.

Mathematics edit

College Prep follows an integrated curriculum that combines numerous topics and strands of mathematics throughout the year. 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).[9] In addition there are advanced classes for each of the math classes. Math classes are assigned based on skill entering the school and students in multiple different grades in one class is quite common. At the start of the year, freshmen take a placement exam, where they are placed into either Math I, Math II, or Math III (very rarely are they placed higher).

Science edit

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 Freshmen within an integrated laboratory format. After completing courses in chemistry (Sophomores) and biology (Juniors), 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.[10]

World languages edit

Latin students win first place at a California Junior Classical League Convention.

College Prep offers four-year programs in French, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and Latin. Students are placed into level 1, 2, or 3 when they arrive depending on skill level and after level 3 they are allowed to take seminars. Seminar levels of all world language classes are Advanced Placement preparatory.[11] Students are required to take three years of one language or two years of two languages each.

College Prep's Latin curriculum places emphasis on ancient Roman literature and history. All Latin students take the National Latin Exam annually.[11]

Honors and AP edit

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.[12] Many formal AP classes are not offered but students are given extracurricular preparation if they are interested.

Arts edit

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.

The Visual Arts department teaches foundation- and advanced-level classes on creative and technical skills in drawing and design.

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.[13]

Students in the music program often perform in instrumental ensembles, performing both standard and "pop" repertoire. 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.[14]

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.[15]

Student life edit

Clubs edit

On-campus clubs usually meet weekly. Though each has a faculty advisor, they are mainly student facilitated. Clubs range from hobbies and interests (Volleyball Club, Creative Writing Club, Chess Club), to activism and social justice (Chinese Culture Club, Black Student Union, CPS Against Human Trafficking) to academia (Science Olympiad, Math Club, Latin Club, Gimkit Club, Conlang Club, Quiz Bowl, Space and Rockets Club, Computer Science Team).[16]

Community service edit

College Prep students participate in service efforts as a class, wherein 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 do outside of school community service such as cooking for men's and women's shelters in Oakland. School-wide participation in Oxfam and Amnesty International is common.[17]

The Radar edit

The school has a student-run newspaper called The Radar.[18] The Radar regularly publishes students' art and article submissions to its website and in its newsletters to the student body, which includes the regular "Humans of CPS" and "Artist of The Week" features.[18] The Radar's website is

Technology edit

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.[19] Each faculty member is provided a laptop and each incoming student is provided an Apple MacBook Pro laptop. 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 students graduate, the computers belong to them.[20]

CPS Campus is a student created app, supporting only with iOS and macOS and enables tracking of easily customized school schedules.[21] The app is integrated with other programs such as the Clubs Calendar.

Advising edit

In their first year, students are put into a CAP (compass advising program) advisory group aimed at helping ease the transition to High School. Senior mentors in CAP help freshmen facilitate their transition into high school. After that, students are put in another advisory which they stay with for the remainder of their High School experience. The second advisory groups are aimed more at helping students with any troubles they might have than a rigorous curriculum.

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.[22]

Retreats edit

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 discuss the transition from high school to college, providing an informal setting to say goodbye before graduation.[23]

Intraterm edit

An Intraterm period takes place in the week before spring break, and consists of special courses (such as pottery or Dungeons & Dragons), field studies (examples include trips to New Orleans and Area 51), and internships offered to students outside of the regular curriculum. Juniors may opt out of Intraterm classes or trips in order to visit colleges. Annual participation in Intraterm is a graduation requirement.[24]

College counseling edit

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. Individual meetings take place weekly, and students are required to attend periodic workshops regarding the admissions process.[25]

Diversity edit

Data are based on the 2020-2021, 2019-2020 and 2018-2019 academic years.[26]
Race and ethnicity Total
Asian 44.1% 44.1
White 44.1% 44.1
Two or more Races 35.7% 35.7
Black 12.4% 12.4
Hispanic 8.4% 8.4
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 2.4% 2.4
American Indian/Alaska Native 0.8% 0.8

A Director of Equity and Belonging facilitates discussion of diversity among faculty, staff, and students. A delegation of 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 mission of the Office of Equity and Belonging is to teach bias management, cultural competency, and servant leadership.[26] Students also lead affinity spaces on campus, including the Asian American Association, Black Student Union, Feminist Union, Gender and Sexuality Awareness Club, Jewish Club, LatinX Club, Muslim Student Association, South Asian Alliance, and Students with Interracial Lives.[27] The Student Equity Action Team is a coalition of student leaders across affinity clubs that organizes events like Community, Pride, and Spirit Day. No Place for Hate Coalition and Showing Up for Racial Justice are student organizations that focus on training bias management, allyship, and facilitation skills.[27]

Speech and debate edit

Public Forum Debate edit

In the 2020-2021 season College Prep's public forum team earned seven bids to the national Tournament of Champions,[28] a JV team came in second place at the Western Novice & JV National Championship, and a team went undefeated in the qualification tournament for the National Speech and Debate Tournament. In addition, at the 2021 national Tournament of Champions, a team placed 8th in the country, making it to the quarterfinal round of Gold Public Forum.

Competitive Speech edit

College Prep's speech team earned five bids to the national Tournament of Champions in the 2020-2021 season and sent several competitors to qualification tournaments for the Tournament of Champions, National Individual Events Tournament of Champions, Extemp Tournament of Champions, California State Championship, and National Speech and Debate Tournament. In the 2020-2021 season one competitor in Extemporaneous Speech qualified for all five championship tournaments including a double qualification to the National Speech and Debate Tournament. In past years several speech competitors made it to championship tournaments as well.[29] In the 2021 season students placed in the semifinal round of the California State Championship, and quarterfinal rounds of national championships.

Policy Debate edit

College Prep has a competitive Policy Debate team, which has reached elimination rounds at numerous 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.[30] In 2014, a novice CPS policy debate team won the Western Novice & JV National Championship.[31] 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.[32]

Lincoln-Douglas Debate edit

College Prep's former Lincoln-Douglas debate team used to regularly compete 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.[33]

California Round Robin edit

College Prep hosts an annual round-robin policy debate tournament known as the "California Round Robin" every February, where top policy, Lincoln-Douglas, and public forum 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.[34] The California Round Robin is unique from traditional tournaments in that the school invites experts on the year's resolution to judge the final rounds. 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.[34]

Julia Burke Foundation edit

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.[35]

Athletics edit

College Prep has a variety of interscholastic teams. Because of the school's small size, and the school policy of exempting students from Physical Education classes during a semester of participation, the percentage of students who join sports teams is exceptionally high: 65% of Prep students play team sports.[36] The school's mascot is the Cougar, and the school colors are blue, maroon, and white.

College Prep is one of ten schools in the Bay Counties League – East. The school has won twenty-one League titles since 2010, namely:[36]

  • 7 NCS Championships
  • 12 NCS Second Place Finishes
  • 64 League Championships
  • 5 League Sportsmanship Awards (by vote of the schools in the BCL East)
  • Sent 90 student-athletes on to play at the collegiate level

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.[37]

Tuition and endowment edit

Tuition for the 2020–2021 school year was $48,300.[38] In 2019–2020, 24 percent of the student body received need-based grants.

College Prep's endowment is currently $19 million, or about $52,000 per student.

Test scores edit

The mean SAT Reasoning Test scores for the College Prep Class of 2023 were 743 (evidence-based reading and writing) and 750 (math; on scales of 200–800). The mean ACT (test) score for the College Prep Class of 2022 was 33. Of the Class of 2022, Class of 2023, and Class of 2024, 42% received National Merit Recognition, compared to approximately 5% of students nationwide. In 2019-20, 155 students took 349 Advanced Placement exams, with 82% of the scores being fours or fives.[39]

Notable alumni edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Top US Private Schools with the Most Graduates Getting into Ivy League Universities". TheStreet. 15 October 2015. Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  2. ^ a b Becoming A Real School 1960-1990 : The Story of The College Preparatory School by Robert Baldwin, Jr. Berkeley, California: Regent Press, 2004.
  3. ^ "How the Schools Stack Up", The Wall Street Journal, 20 November 2007
  4. ^ "America's Best Prep Schools" Forbes, 29 April 2010
  5. ^ "Best Private High Schools In America"
  6. ^ "The Hill Project".
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "Math"The College Preparatory School", no date.
  10. ^ "Science" The College Preparatory School, no date.
  11. ^ a b "World Languages"The College Preparatory School, no date.
  12. ^ "Academics" The College Preparatory School, no date.
  13. ^ "Drama"The College Preparatory School, no date.
  14. ^ "2009 National Honor Choir Concerts" Archived 26 July 2011 at the Wayback MachineAmerican Choral Directors Association, 7 March 2009.
  15. ^ "Dance"The College Preparatory School, no date.
  16. ^ "Clubs & Spirit". Retrieved 8 March 2024.
  17. ^ "Service and Community Based Learning" The College Preparatory School, no date.
  18. ^ a b "Home | Student newspaper of the College Preparatory School". The Radar. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  19. ^ "Technology" The College Preparatory School, no date.
  20. ^ "One-to-One Student Laptop Program" The College Preparatory School, no date.
  21. ^ "CPS | Schedule". App Store. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  22. ^ "Advising & Counseling" The College Preparatory School, no date.
  23. ^ "Retreat Program" The College Preparatory School, no date.
  24. ^ "Intraterm" The College Preparatory School, no date.
  25. ^ "College Counseling" The College Preparatory School, no date.
  26. ^ a b "Equity and Belonging" The College Preparatory School, 2021
  27. ^ a b "Clubs" The College Preparatory School, 2021
  28. ^ "2020 TOC PF Bids".
  29. ^ "Tournament of Champions – 2016".
  30. ^ "National Winners"National Forensic League Rostrum, September 2004.
  31. ^ "2014 Western Novice & JV National Championship"
  32. ^ "Copeland Award for Top First Round At-Large Team"National Debate Tournament – American Forensic Association, no date.
  33. ^ "State Tournament"California High School Speech Association"
  34. ^ a b "Pine Crest, Glenbrook North in California Round Robin Exhibition Round"Victory Briefs Daily, 21 February 2007.
  35. ^ "Julia Burke Foundation". Julia Burke Foundation. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
  36. ^ a b "Athletics", The College Preparatory School, no date.
  37. ^ "Strategic Plan" The College Preparatory School, no date.
  38. ^ The College Preparatory School: Tuitions and Fees
  39. ^ "Prep at a Glance"
  40. ^ "Kat Foster"[dead link] Superior Pics, no date.
  41. ^ "David M. Marchick" The Carlyle Group, no date.
  42. ^ "Carlye Group Names David Marchick Global Head Regulatory Affairs" Fierce Finance, 26 September 2007
  43. ^ "Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development"
  44. ^ "Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz leaves for start-up" Los Angeles Times, 3 October 2008
  45. ^ "With Smartphones, Cher Wang Made Her Own Fortune" The New York Times, 26 October 2008.
  46. ^ "Claire Stapleton". The College Preparatory School. Retrieved 16 April 2023.

External links edit