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Old 10-03-2007, 10:39 PM
 
32 posts, read 150,866 times
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We will be moving to NoVa next spring/summer and are in the process of researching the schools there. I've read and heard from varied sources that Langley is the place to go for high school. However, the reviews I've read are mixed - some even stating it's a cut-throat, cliquey environment with a high degree of drugs and partying, and only average teachers. The student/teacher ratios are high and apparently there's mold growing on the walls! The test scores are good, but I've read that's more due to parents paying for extra tutoring than the quality of the teachers. The other schools we are considering are Yorktown in Arlington and George Mason in Falls Church City. They have better reviews and seem kinder and gentler with equivalent test scores.

I'd appreciate hearing your thoughts. School for our three kids is our primary priority and we'd really like to make an informed decision.

Thanks.
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Old 10-04-2007, 08:58 AM
 
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Keep in mind that people can and do say anything at all on the internet. Langley is in one of the most upscale areas around. These are mostly well-to-do and on up to outright-rich white kids. There's going to be some sniping from down the scale. But there is going to be some snooty in the area, too. Not everyone accommodates well to having plenty of money lying around. As a school, Langley is going to be as good as any, plus or minus the local variances re principals and individual teachers that are a part of everywhere.

Yorktown is a very good school in upscale North Arlington. This is a very different area from McLean/Great Falls. It was a well-established suburb already by the late 1950's. It still reflects that heritage in the way it was subdivided, in the way the roads were laid out, and in the dominant style (and dimension) of construction. Much, if not all, of it is just terrifc if you find that particular ambience attractive. Not necessarily a place for those whose concepts are 'newer', however.

George Mason is a first-rate school, no questions asked, but it is run by the Falls Church City Public School system. You must live within the actual boundaries of Falls Church City to go there. Actual Falls Church is very small...just about two square miles. A lot of what even locals assume to be parts of actual Falls Church are actually not, so be very sure on where any housing you look at is located if you want the kids to go to George Mason. Being right next to it, the character of Falls Church is similar to that in North Arlington.

Bottom line is that all three of these schools are going to fall into the excellent range somewhere. The variability will mostly come from the differening nature of the communities they serve.

Last edited by saganista; 10-04-2007 at 09:18 AM..
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Old 10-04-2007, 11:50 AM
 
Location: sterling
8 posts, read 21,251 times
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Default langly hs

it's the neighborhood

Langly is the heart of the priveleged kids

supreme court justice Scalia lives 2 blocks away

the money is overwhelming

the pressure to be "in" is everywhere

I do alot of work around there and it's very money oriented

the house across the street is worth 3.7 million and it's falling apart
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Old 10-04-2007, 12:21 PM
 
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We live in the McLean high school pyramid (our kids are in a Catholic school), but Langley is very close by and we know families with students there.
I would second saganista on not paying too much attention to the Internet comments. All three of the schools you mentioned are very good -- better than the private high schools in most communities across the country, to be perfectly honest. Whether they are good because they have great programs, facilities, and teachers, or because they serve well-educated, affluent families with very high expectations is an open question.

Of the three, Langley has by far the greatest number of truly well-off students. Many are from international families, and there are lots of expensive vehicles in the student parking lot. Whether that means that the school is full of snobby rich kids -- who knows. It probably depends upon where you family's finances would fall in the school's overall distribution. But there are virtually no poor kids at Langley -- in fact, students from families with very comfortable incomes might FEEL poor compared with classmates who live in $3 million homes and drive Mercedes to school -- but Langley doesn't have the class conflicts that afflict schools such as T.C. Williams in Alexandria that have a greater diversity of incomes. The family I know best at Langley has four wonderful, hard-working kids, the oldest of whom recently returned from a two-year Mormon mission overseas.
We used to live in the Yorktown pyramid. Yorktown draws students from more diverse neighborhoods, including the most affluent parts of Arlington. There is much less conspicuous wealth, because Arlington just doesn't have the "Great Falls mansions on two acres" kinds of neighborhoods, but just as much intense academic pressure -- maybe more so, because the parents are really counting on their kids getting into UVA or William and Mary because of the low tuition. The same is true of George Mason, since the City of Falls Church is virtually the same as North Arlington in demographics. Lots of well-educated professionals, many of whom work for government agencies, universities, non-profits, think tanks, etc. All three schools have high Asian populations, so the music programs are great (sounds politically incorrect, but it happens to be true).
The bottom line is that all three are great schools in which your kids will have access to the best possible courses and plenty of high-achieving, motivated classmates. Your family will have the most influence on your kids.
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Old 10-04-2007, 01:25 PM
 
32 posts, read 150,866 times
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Thank you for your insights. I was wondering where McLean HS fits into all of this? It seems also to be a great school but with not as much negative commentary. Can you provide any feedback on how it compares to Langley, Yorktown or George Mason?

Thanks again.
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Old 10-04-2007, 02:18 PM
 
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McLean is right in there with Langley, Yorktown, and George Mason. More international than Yorktown, I think, because McLean seems to draw more diplomat/World Bank types than does Arlington, but otherwise you're looking at the same general demographics in all of these schools. For what it's worth, Langley does seem to have a significantly better set of sports teams. Most of my neighbors' teenagers attend McLean. The recent McLean grads on the block are attending Northwestern, Villanova, University of Oklahoma (complete free ride for National Merit finalists), University of Maryland, George Mason, and West Point.
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Old 10-04-2007, 05:07 PM
 
32 posts, read 150,866 times
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The international flavor is appealing to us since both my husband and I are international. Does McLean HS have that same rich kid, privileged aura as Langley? Would you say that George Mason also has more international students/families? It seems to be in an exclusive city that's hard to get into (probably not a lot of houses that go on sale). I do get the feeling that Falls Church City has a strong sense of community, probably as does North Arlington.

Thanks for taking the time to help us out.
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Old 10-04-2007, 05:55 PM
Status: "RIP Brandon" (set 3 days ago)
 
Location: Arlington, VA and Washington, DC
23,507 posts, read 33,218,075 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BayAreaFamily View Post
The international flavor is appealing to us since both my husband and I are international. Does McLean HS have that same rich kid, privileged aura as Langley? Would you say that George Mason also has more international students/families? It seems to be in an exclusive city that's hard to get into (probably not a lot of houses that go on sale). I do get the feeling that Falls Church City has a strong sense of community, probably as does North Arlington.

Thanks for taking the time to help us out.
i would not worry about your school choices. you can probably go to any high school in NoVA and get a quality education that is ahead of most of the country. If your kids stay focused and avoid distractions like rich kids @ McLean or the project kids @ Wakefield, bottom line your focused kids will get a great education. BTW i graduated from the unjustly bashed TC Williams HS and feel that i got a better education than i got in the York County, VA system which has test scores and rich kids identical to McLean HS and Langley HS.
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Old 10-04-2007, 05:56 PM
 
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McLean is a wealthy community, so there are going to be children of privilege in every local school. Many people in the McLean High community believe that there is less of the "spoiled rich kid" stuff at McLean than at Langley, but I think that much depends upon the group of kids that your children end up befriending. There are definitely more "comfortable but not wealthy" people at McLean -- they live in pretty ordinary houses that happen to cost $800,000 because of where they are located, not because they are luxury homes. But, in my experience, depending upon their parents' values, some of these kids can be even more spoiled than the kids from truly affluent families.

As far as George Mason goes, the City of Falls Church is an interesting place. No really poor people, but very few really rich people. There are a fair number of new construction tear-downs that are priced around $1 million or more, but most of the housing stock is old and pretty small. People who are really into conspicuous conumption would probably look elsewhere. Check out the City of Falls Church website -- somewhere therein is a fascinating demographic study. My sense is that there is less of an international presence there, but then, compared with McLean, everything seems "whiter."
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Old 10-04-2007, 06:33 PM
 
19,183 posts, read 28,289,551 times
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Good insights above. My take would be that if it weren't for Langley, some of the jabber that goes out that way would be pointed instead toward McLean. McLean proper is also rich, but, if you will, it is more accustomed to being rich than Langley. People are a little less and rather less often impressed with themselves over it, so I wouldn't see the same sort of attitude 'in town' myself. Still, it does mean something to live in McLean. It is still pretty much the prestige address in the area, keeping in mind that Langley, which used to be an independent village, is actually a part of McLean. And since I wandered into it, this might be a good time to note that neither one of them is actually incorporated. McLean is simply an area, the formal name for that being a 'Census-designated place'. There is no actual town or village. The first level of government is that of Fairfax County. This is true of most of the County, one exception being the Town of Vienna, and another being the City of Falls Church, which by virtue of being a city, is technically not part of Fairfax County at all. To finish the point though, I would say that McLean HS would have a somewhat lower snooty factor than Langley, while still having an edge on George Mason in terms of international students and feel.

McLean certainly has a self-identification, but Falls Church, actually being independent of the County, does have probably the highest sense of community in the area. Vienna might come next. Each of them is quite proud of its status and promotes and celebrates it accordingly. North Arlington is quite large by comparison, and comprised of many different neighborhoods. Not quite the collective cohesiveness there as in any of the other three.

Housing actually comes on the market frequently enough throughout the area. Most of DC has a high transiency rate, as military, diplomatic, and many corporate folks get assigned into and out of the area on a regular basis. McLean, with its close ties to the CIA, is perhaps especially in on that.

So that's my two cents worth. I was 'based' in Falls Church for about three years, and lived in McLean for six. I enjoyed and thought very highly of each. The opportunity to move out to beautiful Vienna/Oakton, however, was too much to pass up...
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