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Thacher - Any questions?

CaliMexCaliMex 1716 replies34 postsRegistered User Senior Member
edited March 11 in Prep School Admissions
I'm a Thacher parent, though not THE @ThacherParent.

Congratulations to any students admitted to this wonderful school!

Please post your questions here. If I don't know the answer, I can always ask the kid... and I'm sure that others with knowledge of Thacher will chime in, too.

MODERATOR'S NOTE:
As with all "Ask Me Anything" threads, all students/parents/alum/staff are welcome to chime in to answer questions.
edited March 11
22 replies
Post edited by skieurope on
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Replies to: Thacher - Any questions?

  • janehoyajanehoya 22 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @CaliMex, I have appreciated your many informative posts. I have dozens of questions, but at this juncture am focusing on logistics. We live in the Bay Area and I understand there is a bus that brings the students to and from school during break.

    1. Is it relatively easy for a student to reserve a spot or do they sometimes run out?
    2. What is the round-trip cost?

    Also, DS has been talking a lot about outings to Ojai, field trips to different cities (i.e. Los Angeles). How often does that stuff happen please?
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  • CaliMexCaliMex 1716 replies34 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    The bus to and from the SF Bay Area costs about $50 each way. It is super convenient. We booked all the bus trips at the beginning of the year, but they send reminders about a month in advance in case you forgot to.

    Visiting Ojai is easy. There are shuttle buses running all weekend and on a designated weekday.

    Trips to Santa Bárbara and Ventura are about every other month and include the entire school.

    LA trips are tied to specific events like a museum exhibit or theatrical performance. Kids sign up for those.

    There are organized activities on campus every weekend, in addition to sporting events and riding (mandatory for freshmen).

    There are camping trips throughout the year, from beach camping with surfing to snow camping, and more.

    Freshmen have three mandatory camping trips, one of which is horsepacking. Kids in other grades must participate in two camping trips each year.

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  • Kthor626Kthor626 89 replies3 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Town buses into Ojai run on Wednesday afternoons and weekends. Evening/Head's Holiday outings are to SB, Ventura, and Camarillo, usually monthly. I believe the school may be planning on more outings into LA as this was a recent Parent Survey question. In the past this has been specifically for musicals, museums, conferences.

    My child never did Winter Camping as it conflicted with sports, only Fall and Spring. Awesome variety of camping trips-- kayaking at the Channel Islands, Grand Canyon, hiking the Lost Coast of far Northern California.
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  • janehoyajanehoya 22 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @CaliMex and @Kthor626--thanks very much for responding. It's a lot to process. Do Freshmen have time to participate on sports teams during the year or are they limited to the Horse Program? Our son is super-excited about the horse program.
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  • CaliMexCaliMex 1716 replies34 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Riding takes priority freshman year, but it is possible to join a sports team and participate 2-3 times a week, including some but not all games/matches.
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  • janehoyajanehoya 22 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited March 11
    @CaliMex, that is great to hear. Thank you!
    edited March 11
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  • CaliMexCaliMex 1716 replies34 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    @JaneHoya Are you considering other schools?

    We cast a very wide net last year because we needed substantial aid. In the end, we had to pick from among 8 boarding schools and 3 day schools. Choosing was HARD. We each (my husband, child, and myself) had different favorites, but when we created a spreadsheet with points and weights for each criteria, Thacher won hands down. It wasn't even close! The decision was confirmed when we informed the AO of my personal favorite that our child would not be attending. His response: "Thacher is the only school I don't mind losing students to. It is a fantastic place."
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  • awaytheygo123awaytheygo123 1 replies0 postsRegistered User New Member
    @CaliMex I'm intrigued by your spreadsheet. Would you be willing to share your categories? DS is choosing between a fabulous boarding and a decent day (can you tell I'm biased?) and DH and I are trying to find concrete ways to help him evaluate the schools in a variety of aspects.
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  • CaliMexCaliMex 1716 replies34 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    We all agreed on criteria, but each of us weighted them differently. I would expect the criteria to be different from family to family since you might be interested in a specific sport or program, or simply have different values.

    We assumed all the schools were equal in terms of academics and then scored things like "strength of choral and instrumental music program", "welcoming/inclusive students", "diversity", "ease of travel logistics", "deliberate/intentional approach to building community", "overall cost", "kids seemed more happy than stressed", etc.

    We each had a score sheet and gave each school a grade from 0-10 on each criteria. If we didn't know enough to assign a grade, we left it blank. Then we multiplied those grades based on the weights we assigned each criteria. (As parents, we gave more weight to overall cost than our kid did. They gave more weight to how welcoming the kids were.)

    We each added up the points on our score sheets. On all three of our score sheets, Thacher came out on top, though we each had different schools in 2nd place. Thacher scored highest for "welcoming/inclusive" and "kids seemed more happy than stressed." It also scored highest for "deliberate/intentional approach to building community." These three things are connected ;-)

    BTW: Our child was turned off by how central alcohol and drugs seem to be to the social life of high schoolers at our local schools, both public and private. When she visited Thacher, an upperclassmen said he did his partying when he was home for breaks, but that it just wasn't cool to get high or drunk at Thacher. That was very different from what she had observed or heard at other schools.
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  • janehoyajanehoya 22 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @CaliMex, Thacher is our family's first choice school because we believe (hopefully correctly) that the students live the values that the administration espouses. Based on what I've read/heard from current parents such as yourself and some former parents that seems to be the case. We are looking forward to revisiting later this month.
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  • janehoyajanehoya 22 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    I have a question about how the school handles illnesses. What happens when kids are sick at school (an outbreak of influenza type A at our current school prompted this question)? Do students go to the infirmary for a couple of days, or do they stay in their dorm room and a faculty member periodically checks up on them? Also, are they allowed to keep OTC and prescription medications, or does a faculty member hold on to them? Thank you! How communicative is the school when your child does come down with an illness?
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  • ThacherParentThacherParent 826 replies49 postsRegistered User Member
    Our son got mononucleosis his sophomore year and we lived in DC at the time. The school was great about making sure that testing happened promptly and successfully, that he was seen by a doctor, that we knew what was going on each step of the way. My wife is an RN and took a week off, flew out there, rented a room with a kitchenette. He'd go to class during the day (barely) and then go back to the room for food and uninterrupted sleep. The school did not request that; she just had a severe attack of the mothers. I can't speak to the medications questions, but once call to the school and you'd get all the answers.

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  • SilverSalmonSilverSalmon 1 replies0 postsRegistered User New Member
    Thanks for fielding the random questions. I'd like to add a few we are pondering:

    1) How common is studying abroad among Thacher students? Where are the programs? Does Thacher piggyback on School Year Abroad or crafting their own programs?

    2) Clearly there are ton of Californians & Bay Area kids. Do the others feel like the odd man out? How much monoculture is there?

    3) Can anyone speak to the strength of the different foreign language programs?

    4) Does anyone get into Thacher as a junior? DD got in as a sophomore, but has a great study abroad opportunity that has her considering perhaps trying again as a junior.
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  • ThacherParentThacherParent 826 replies49 postsRegistered User Member
    edited March 21
    Hi @SilverSalmon,

    1. It's common. The AO should be able to give you all kinds of info about country options. My son did an awesome gap year after Thacher so I can't speak to the actual school programs, but @mountainhiker , @patronyork , @Calimex may be able to comment or point you in the right direction.

    2. Other kids feel utterly, 1000% included. We were from the East Coast and not only did our son feel like part of the Thacher family from Day One, so did we parents. As far as monoculture, I think there is far less in boarding schools as a rule because most great places work hard to have a genuine melting pot. I will say that the California vibe and the New England vibe, from my grossly unscientific vantage point, are happily dissimilar. As hard core east coasters, our son and we were DELIGHTED that he was exposed to a warmer, open, sunnier culture without a lot of the old school, sarcasm-as-humor vibe that I experienced at my own East Coast boarding school. This is often why I encourage California children to go east for boarding school so they too can experience a counterpoint culture. It does wonders for well-roundedness.

    3. I can only comment on Spanish. My son knew none when he arrived and spent the year after he was graduated in the Patagonia (http://www.tompkinsconservation.org/home.htm) doing restoration work and speaking it every day. It was a very good program. A friend tells me that the Mandarin courses are excellent but very challenging.

    4. Yes. In my son's year there was one boy and one girl. Some years there might be as many as four and other years none. It's MUCH better to apply as a freshman or sophomore.
    edited March 21
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  • CaliMexCaliMex 1716 replies34 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    @SilverSalmon
    There is more diversity within the California kids than meets the eye. There are kids whose parents work in finance or tech in SF and kids who grew up on rural farms or ranches... Kids who attended large urban middle schools where whites are a small minority and kids who attended tony privates. The unifying cultural thread comes from the code of Honor, Fairness, Kindness, and Truth.

    Thacher isn’t for everyone. Getting up at the crack of dawn to care for a horse, week long wilderness camping trips twice a year, horsepacking excursions, crazy Cowboy style races (Google Thacher Gymkhana), the school’s small size, all end up attracting kids who value hard work, don’t see physical labor as “beneath” them, and encourage each other to take risks/try new things.

    It is a very tight community, deliberately knit together through formal seated meals 4 times a week, prefect groups, advisory groups, family-like “knots”, riding groups & Gymkhana teams, etc. When freshmen arrive, they discover they are already a part of several groupings, all of which accelerate their adjustment and make them feel a part of various “families”.

    Regarding opportunities abroad, in addition to School Year Abroad (France, Spain, China), the school itself organizes trips during the summer months, for which there is some financial aid. China and India are this year’s destinations. The musical ensembles have overseas tours every other year, too. Recent destinations include Cuba and Italy, I believe.

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  • janehoyajanehoya 22 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @ThacherParent, thank you for your reply. I took your advice, called the school and the person I spoke to was great. We are looking forward to our revisit.
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  • CaliMexCaliMex 1716 replies34 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    @janehoya Enjoy your second visit! Our kid is really excited about hosting a prospective student this weekend!
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  • ep1970ep1970 4 replies0 postsRegistered User New Member
    Those kids that came in as juniors are most likely faculty kids from my understanding. I don't think you can apply as a junior.
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  • ThacherParentThacherParent 826 replies49 postsRegistered User Member
    @ep1970 - Admitted juniors are few and far between 0-4 per year, I would guess. The two that were admitted as juniors into my son's class had no relation to faculty or admins. One thing for sure, if you are admitted as a junior, you are extremely mature, emotionally intact, with interpersonal and leadership gifts.
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  • CaliMexCaliMex 1716 replies34 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    These videos do a great job of showing what makes Thacher Thacher.

    Alika’s is especially good. He is the current head prefect for freshmen boys. (Prefects are the seniors who live with and mentor the younger students.

    https://www.thacher.org/explore/films-about-thacher#video/838678

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