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Old 05-10-2019, 03:44 PM
 
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We love Baltimore, but we need to move closer to work. What we thought was a temporary commuting situation has become a permanent one.

We currently have our child (early elementary grade) in a small private school that he really loves. So, in addition to moving south, we want to do everything we can to land him in school he will love. I would also love to land in a community that is neighborly and where kids tend to hang out together.

In Columbia, the Villages of Hickory Ridge and King's Contrivance appeal to us. They are good commuting locations, I like the idea of supporting the Columbia Association and its amenities, the house prices are about right for us, and the neighborhoods appeal to me--especially the lovely walking trails in King's Contrivance.

However, I'd really like to collect as much opinion and experience as I can on the schools, particularly:

Clemens Crossing ES / Atholton HS
Hammond ES / Hammond HS

Academics are important to us, but so is having a strong, positive community in the school and neighborhood. I've heard whispering that make me think the schools listed above may be a good match. But I have never lived in suburban Maryland.

If you don't know these specific areas, but want to recommend other communities, I am all ears.

Other places we are curious about:
Bollman Bridge Elementary
Longfellow ES
Wilde Lake MS/HS
Pointer's Run Elementary
River Hill

We have not ruled out Ellicott City yet, either, but that might be getting too far north and for now I am focusing on Columbia.

BTW: I have read the statistics on all these areas. What I am really short on is personal insight.
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Old 05-11-2019, 06:48 AM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
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I grew up in Columbia. Can’t tell you anything about the elementary schools, but Atholton and Hammond High Schools were both very solid schools during my time. I graduated from high school in the late 90s, so my information would be outdated, but at the time they were both in the second tier of high schools in terms of Howard County high schools academic reputation. Centennial, Mt. Hebron, and River Hill are even to this day still at the top in terms of academic reputation (with several students going to Ivy League-type schools). Back in day, they used to actually publicize and rank the high schools based on average SAT score. As mentioned, after those top 3 (and Glenelg was also up there), Atholton and Hammond were always in that next tier. So they were very solid schools. Keep in mind that ALL Howard County public schools are great when compared to other high schools at a state level. Unless things have changed drastically, Atholton and Hammond are very solid schools, which would have tons of AP options, good academic environment, etc.

Anecdotally, I have childhood friends from both Hammond and Atholton, graduated high school the same year, who went to good colleges, medical school and are now physicians (MDs). So at least in the 90s, they were solid schools.

I see you have Wilde Lake as a potential. Back in my time Wilde Lake (along with Howard) were the lowest ranking schools in terms of academics, and had the worst reputation in terms of fighting/violence. Keep in mind this is Howard County level fighting (not even comparable to Baltimore) and it was in the 90s!. However, a lot can change. For example, Howard I believe is a much better and very different school now; Long Reach high school opened in the late 90s and most of the rougher demographic was districted there, which drastically improved Howard academically and general identity. Something similar could now be true for Wilde Lake. Just providing you with some historical info.

Finally, River Hill is consistently ranked as one of the best high schools academically (along with Centennial). That has been the case for as far back as I can remember.
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Old 05-11-2019, 09:50 PM
 
Location: Howard County, Maryland
6,155 posts, read 3,947,854 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baltimore Bird View Post
Other places we are curious about:
Bollman Bridge Elementary
Bollman Bridge serves a largely low-income population -- with the lower test scores that unfortunately go along with that.

Here's a list of all Howard County schools. For each one, click on "View School Details" for helpful information.

https://www.hcpss.org/schools/#direct


Quote:
Originally Posted by personone View Post
I see you have Wilde Lake as a potential. Back in my time Wilde Lake (along with Howard) were the lowest ranking schools in terms of academics, and had the worst reputation in terms of fighting/violence. Keep in mind this is Howard County level fighting (not even comparable to Baltimore) and it was in the 90s!. However, a lot can change. For example, Howard I believe is a much better and very different school now; Long Reach high school opened in the late 90s and most of the rougher demographic was districted there, which drastically improved Howard academically and general identity. Something similar could now be true for Wilde Lake. Just providing you with some historical info.
We're zoned to Howard High. Though our kids aren't old enough to go there yet, some of our neighbors have had experience there. Uniformly, I've heard nothing but good things about it. Apparently, Long Reach syphoning off the "rougher demographic" did wonders for Howard High.
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Old 05-12-2019, 09:45 AM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bus man View Post
Bollman Bridge serves a largely low-income population -- with the lower test scores that unfortunately go along with that.

Here's a list of all Howard County schools. For each one, click on "View School Details" for helpful information.

https://www.hcpss.org/schools/#direct




We're zoned to Howard High. Though our kids aren't old enough to go there yet, some of our neighbors have had experience there. Uniformly, I've heard nothing but good things about it. Apparently, Long Reach syphoning off the "rougher demographic" did wonders for Howard High.
Yes, from what I hear, Howard is now a very good school, and is in that second tier (right under River Hill, Centennial, Hebron, Glenelg).

And to clarify, I should have said "rougher demographicS." Both the section 8 housing in Long Reach and the section 8 trailer home regions in Elkridge (which are racially demographically different, but both "rougher") are districted to Long Reach High School. In the 90s, these were the 2 groups that gave Howard it's bad reputation for fighting/violence and contributed to the below average test scores. With these groups now districted to Long Reach, Howard apparently has a completely different identity/look/feel and the academics have drastically improved. Unfortunately for Long Reach, I have heard that they now experience many of the problems that Howard did a couple of decades ago.
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Old 05-13-2019, 08:59 AM
 
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Thank you for the insightful comments. Would you say that Atholton, Howard, Hammond are currently perceived as more similar than different? Or do people tend to group Hammond in with Oakland Mills and Long Reach? (On paper, I see the similarities and differences - I'm just curious what the common perceptions are, or if the "culture" of certain communities is significantly different.)

I've heard many things about Centennial and River Hill being wonderful schools and academic powerhouses. But I've also heard they are pressure cookers or may be socially difficult for some kids. Is that a common perception?
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Old 05-13-2019, 11:26 AM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baltimore Bird View Post
Thank you for the insightful comments. Would you say that Atholton, Howard, Hammond are currently perceived as more similar than different? Or do people tend to group Hammond in with Oakland Mills and Long Reach? (On paper, I see the similarities and differences - I'm just curious what the common perceptions are, or if the "culture" of certain communities is significantly different.)

I've heard many things about Centennial and River Hill being wonderful schools and academic powerhouses. But I've also heard they are pressure cookers or may be socially difficult for some kids. Is that a common perception?
Again, my information is way dated (decades), although my parents still live in Columbia so I go back pretty frequently and still read the Columbia Flier (and have young adult friends in the area). My understanding is that Hammond would be very similar to Atholton and Howard; a tier above Oakland Mills and Long Reach.

Again, 20 years ago, Howard was in the tier with and Oakland Mills. Since the opening of Long Reach, Howard has moved up. Actually, back then, Oakland Mills was ranked higher than Howard and Wilde Lake based on SAT score (they don’t publicize and rank that way anymore).

Some more anecdotal info (in addition to the other anecdotes I previously provided), I know another 2 late-90s Oakland Mills high school female graduates, one went to any Ivy League undergrad the other went to a state school; but both went on to go to medical school and are now physicians (MDs). Showing that you can get a great education at any Howard County high school (plenty of AP opportunities, etc).
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Old 07-12-2019, 01:51 PM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
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As an update, there are actually published reports of average SAT scores by Howard County high schools (from 2017).

https://www.boarddocs.com/mabe/hcpssmd/Board.nsf/files/ARVKL452201A/$file/10%2017%202017%20Class%20of%202017%20SAT%20%26%20A CT%20Participation%2C%20Performance%2C%20and%20Thr ee%20Year%20Trends%20BR.pdf

P.18 (Table A5) breaks down mean SAT score by high school.
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Old 07-12-2019, 02:02 PM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
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Surprisingly, Hammond high school seems to have slipped a lot academically from when I was in high school decades ago. Most of the other schools have remained pretty consistent academically, with Howard actually impressively jumping up a good bit. Howard was always near the bottom during my time but is now solidly in the middle of the pack. As mentioned previously, Howard’s big improvement is in large part due to Long Reach, which was districted to include the section 8 students from long reach and elkridge, and therefore, not surprisingly has the lowest test scores of all high schools.
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Old 07-15-2019, 09:52 AM
 
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Question: You say Ellicott City might be too far north? If so, it sounds like you might be ok with living south of Columbia but still in Howard County? If so, look in 20723 area code (Scaggsville/North Laurel/Fulton/Maple Lawn area). The area is served by 3 really great schools - Fulton Elementary, Hammond Middle, and Reservoir High.
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Old 07-15-2019, 02:15 PM
 
Location: HoCo, MD
4,715 posts, read 8,285,310 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baltimore Bird View Post
Thank you for the insightful comments. Would you say that Atholton, Howard, Hammond are currently perceived as more similar than different? Or do people tend to group Hammond in with Oakland Mills and Long Reach? (On paper, I see the similarities and differences - I'm just curious what the common perceptions are, or if the "culture" of certain communities is significantly different.)

I've heard many things about Centennial and River Hill being wonderful schools and academic powerhouses. But I've also heard they are pressure cookers or may be socially difficult for some kids. Is that a common perception?
There is a book called "The Overachievers" By Alexandra Robbins. She's a graduate of Walt Whitman H.S. in Montgomery County. And this book follows a number of students there (the book is 10-12 years old). I think it paints a good picture of what these kids go through at these schools.

That said - everyone is different and being at a top school doesn't mean you are guaranteed anything. By the same token, just because you aren't in one of these schools doesn't mean you can't succeed. There are obviously other factors at play.
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