High School Here We Come!

By Lindsey Johnson

As you help your child prepare for high school, there are many things to consider in finding the perfect fit. Fortunately, Alachua County has many options for a great education and well-rounded experience. 

While evaluating your options, consider what parts of the high school experience are most critical to your child’s success. Academics are important for each student but the appropriate level of rigor or course of study will vary by child. Work with an advisor at the high school to help your child select the appropriate courses to meet requirements, achieve success and challenge the student. If your child needs an extra challenge, consider a rigorous academic curriculum like an AP or IB program. If your child already has an interest in a field of study, a magnet program that features their interests might be a good fit. Alachua County programs range from agricultural topics to culinary arts to health professions to automotive technology and everything in between! 

Athletics and arts programs are a consideration for some students. If your child plays a sport that is not available at the high school they selected, consider other options for involvement in community leagues or consider a private school option. If your child is into music and/or the arts, explore options that have strong arts programs. 

Different children thrive in different environments. When looking at high schools, consider the size of the school they are in now and the school they are considering. If they are at a small school and will be enrolled at high school with twice the student body, that may be overwhelming at first. Contact the school and see if shadow days are available or even a private tour. You want them to feel comfortable in their new surroundings. 

At this age, a child’s social circle is their everything, for lack of better words. If their best friends will be attending a different high school then they will be because of zoning, magnet choices or sports preferences, this can put added stress on choosing a high school that best suits your child. Talk to other parents and compare notes, see who may be considering the same school as your child. Ensure your child that even if they go to different high schools, they will have an opportunity to see them outside of school. 

Another option is attending an online academy such as Florida Virtual School. Some families found that their students performed better in an online format that allowed for greater flexibility. Students who attend online classes are still eligible to participate in athletics and extracurricular activities at local schools. Contact the school for specifics. 

Magnet programs and private schools typically start open houses and applications for enrollment around January. Do your research beforehand and make a list of what is important to you and your child. Visit schools, meet with a school representative and even have your child shadow at the school to get a feel from the student perspective. If this process is overwhelming, every family has the option of attending the high school you are zoned for based on your address. Luckily, our Alachua County options are quality schools that offer a well-rounded environment for students, regardless of their interests. 

FIND THE RIGHT FIT FOR YOUR TWEEN

ACADEMIC MAGNET PROGRAMS: 

Eastside High School 

• The International Baccalaureate (IB) Program 

Gainesville High School 

• The Cambridge Program 

SPECIALTY MAGNET PROGRAMS: 

Buchholz High School 

• Performing Arts 

• Band 

• Drama 

• Chorus and Orchestra 

• Aviance Color Guard 

• Academy of Entrepreneurship 

• Academy of Finance 

Eastside High School 

• Culinary Arts Program 

Gainesville High School 

• Academy of Future Teachers 

• Academy of Health Professions 

Hawthorne Middle High School 

• Academy of Agribusiness 

Loften High School 

• Academy of Automotive Technology 

• Academy of Fire and Emergency Medical Services 

• Academy of Gaming and Mobile Apps 

• Academy of Robotics and Engineering 

• Institute of Graphic Art and Design 

Newberry High School 

• Academy of Criminal Justice 

Santa Fe High School 

• Academy of Agriscience 

• Academy of Veterinary Assisting 

• Institute of Biotechnology 

PRIVATE SCHOOLS: 

Cornerstone Academy 

Countryside Christian School 

Newberry Christian Community School 

Oak Hall School 

The Rock School 

St. Francis Catholic Academy 

Trilogy School 

 

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