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Old 02-24-2010, 10:35 AM
10 posts, read 44,129 times
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My husband and I are considering sending our son to Forest Ridge Academy for preschool through middle school. We live in Merrillville, and we're not overly impressed with the schools. Recent statewide education cuts have us worried about moving to a better school district. He's a super bright kid, but that can make him a bit challenging at times. I do anticipate that he'll need a program for gifted students, and I believe many schools have eliminated even the most basic gifted programs.

The high cost of FRA certainly has us doing our homework about the school. We can afford it, but just barely. We've visited the school, and we were very impressed by the presentation and the staff we met. They seem to offer some great programs and extracurricular activities. However, I know visits and impressions can vary widely from the actual experience.

Does anyone have children who attend or have attended FRA? Do they keep the kids challenged and engaged? Do they work with parents if there are any behavioral concerns? Do you feel the education received is worth the cost and commitment to the school? What do your children think of the school?

Are there any alternatives to FRA that aren't parochial or Montessori?

Thank you for any help! I think NWI has some of the best people on these forums.

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Old 03-22-2010, 03:46 PM
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I too wondered about the cost of an FRA education for my child. She is very bright and she can be a challenge to deal with (sounds very similar to your child). I called the Superintendent of Valparaiso Schools and was told that unless my daughter was learning disabled, the school system had nothing to offer her. I had my daughter tested at Forest Ridge in April of 2009 - I did not sign the papers until late July. It has been worth every penny. She is happy there and I just put down a deposit for next year. I live in Valparaiso and I make the drive to school with her every morning (it takes about 45 minutes). FRA is open until 6 pm which is great because then I don't have to worry about her after school care. They offer many after school activities. For example, softball, baseball, basketball, cooking, piano, violin, the list goes on and on. I like the fact that the school is locked during the day and people have to be "buzzed" in. The children - no matter how old - are not allowed to open the doors. Only the adult staff or other parents may open the doors. I could go on and on. My mother and father-in-law live in a very affluent suburb of Chicago. They drove to Schererville to look at FRA with me. My mother-in-law said, "I cannot find one thing wrong with this school". She said it was every bit as good as the schools they have in their area - only without the huge taxes.

When you ask about alternatives, I am reminded of a conversation I had with another FRA parent. She has 2 boys at the school and she said that she and her husband looked at other alternatives but no matter where they looked, she said they would have to give up something. Whether it was the sign language, spanish, music, art, etc. no other school had what FRA had.

I know what I am paying for when I write a check to FRA. I am paying for an outstanding student to teacher ratio and the extra attention that my child needs to become a successful and upstanding member of society. I know that when my daughter does something wrong at school, I will be notified so that any issue she has can be corrected. I was concerned that at a public school, if teachers found my daughter difficult to deal with, they would just let her go about her business and not address the issues. Who could blame them? - with the ever decreasing budgets and ever increasing class sizes. I wanted her to go to a school where the staff cared about her and her educational as well as her social development.
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Old 08-12-2010, 07:07 PM
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I know my thank you is late, but thank you! You're post was informative and helpful. I've enrolled my son in the Young Scholars program, and we're all looking forward to the 26th! I'm so relieved to know that the teachers and administration are willing to work with kids that can often outsmart us all.
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Old 03-03-2011, 10:11 PM
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Have you ever looked at Victory Christian Academy in Valparaiso? I am considering this school.
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Old 03-17-2011, 08:49 AM
10 posts, read 44,129 times
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We were looking specifically for an independent day school, so we didn't consider any schools with religious affiliation.

We ended up missing out on FRA preschool due to lingering potty training issues, and then we ended up traveling out of state quite a bit due to work. This fall would be full day Junior Kindergarten at FRA, which I think may be too much to start with. So, we enrolled him in Field Station Kids for preschool this fall. It looks fantastic. Then we’re looking at 1] Discovery Charter School, 2] Heritage Institute Charter School (don’t know much about it yet), or 3] sucking it up and giving up a lot for FRA tuition.

I have some of the same reservations about Charter schools that I have about our local public schools. I don’t want teacher-proof classrooms and standardized learning. Our kid is super active, goofy, and would likely be some “trouble” in a supersized classroom. We also spent a lot of time on Pre-K skills with him so he can read, do some math, etc. I’m guessing Charter schools still are largely beholden to teaching the tests. On the other hand, they have specific missions and values that may trump that. They also limit class sizes, but I’m not sure to what. Discovery has the active, nature aspect and Heritage Institute purports to offer ballet, hip hop, high technology, etc.

Who knows...? I sure don’t! I know I’ve given a lot of time to this even though he’s young, but school will be more than half of his waking hours before I know it. I was disappointed to miss out on FRA, but I’m excited about all the new options becoming available. I know Charter schools are controversial, but I do like the opportunity to choose what would work best for my child.
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