Kirby Families Love Kirby, Santa Cruz's Best High School and Middle School!

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Find out what parents are saying about our middle school and high school programs:

Students are Seen, Known, and Understood

"At Kirby, my son is exposed to a wealth of curricular options that match his passions, all taught by expert faculty who take a student-centered, project-based approach to teaching. He is seen, known, and understood, and already has developed self-advocacy skills that will equip him well in the future to navigate life in college and at work."

-- Sara Lively, Kirby Parent

Inclusive Culture

"There are so many things to love about Kirby, but my two favorites are the teachers and the open and inclusive culture of the kids. Every year thus far, I leave Back-To-School so inspired that I wish I was still a student getting to learn from these caring and brilliant teachers. I also am constantly amazed at how much the kids focus on being inclusive as well as their growing emotional maturity. My kids have grown into deeply thoughtful, caring and sensitive humans and I know that is because they are surrounded by a culture that consistently encourages it."

-- Jen Grant Landes, Kirby Parent

Inspiring and Nurturing Environment

"Kirby does an amazing job of feeding my childís strengths and intellectual hungers while supporting him in the areas where he struggles. The faculty 'get' my son. They seem to truly enjoy him, and he, in turn, happily heads off to learn each day. I feel deeply grateful that my sonís school has cultivated such an inspiring and nurturing environment."

-- Evi Strauss, Kirby Parent

College Prep With Heart

"We moved our high schooler to Kirby because we were worried about the college prep curriculum at our local public high school. After three years of excellent, personalized teaching in small classes, we recently sent our child off to a top-tier college where she has found herself to be very well prepared. Our younger children started at Kirby in 6th grade and have already benefited from Kirbyís flexible curriculum and challenging yet engaging academic program. Kirby is worth every penny."

-- Enid Brock, Kirby Alumni Parent

What more could you possibly want for your children?

"Kirby is a safe haven in the midst of the increasingly high-pressure world our teenagers face. I feel incredibly fortunate to have two teenagers--a freshman and a senior--who are happy to go to school each day. They are thriving as part of community where they can experience academic rigor, creative expression and the freedom to be themselves without judgment or fear. Kirby is not just an excellent school; it is a supportive, safe community. What more could you possibly want for your children?"

-- Laura Davis, Kirby Alumni Parent

Excellent, Committed, and Highly-credentialed Faculty

"My three grandchildren attend Kirby, and my wife and I attend Grandparents' Day every year. We never cease to be amazed and impressed by Kirby's excellent, committed, and highly-credentialed faculty. As an emeritus university professor, I appreciate Kirby's rigorous college-prep curriculum. These kids arrive at college ready to learn and succeed."

-- Gerard Van Hoven, Ph.D, Stanford University (Physics), Professor Emeritus, University of California at Irvine

Curriculum Isn't Dictated by State Finances

"I chose Kirby because I wanted a school whose curriculum wasn't going to be dictated by the whim of the state's finances. Kirby has an incredibly well-rounded curriculum - rigorous academics, an extensive arts program, and small class size. Plus they operate in the black and know their budget ahead of time, so there's no danger of them cutting out the 'peripheral' courses, like music, art, or Latin. It completely lived up to my expectations. I have had two children graduate from Kirby and another who will be attending soon, and I couldn't be happier."

-- Dorothy Wise, Kirby Parent

Outstanding College Prep

"Excellent individualized, focused attention."

-- Dr. Tamara Zuniga, Kirby Alumni Parent

Students are Challenged to Think Critically

"The teachers at Kirby challenge kids to think critically and inspire them to do their best. They offer a series of classes in their subject area, which allows students to follow a teacher/mentor through high school. I love the fact that my son has grown into a confident and competent young man at Kirby and that he now has the academic skills and personal self-assuredness to be happy and successful in college."

-- Aven Switzer, Kirby Alumni Parent

No Bullying Here

"At Kirby, students are appreciated for the individuals that they are, which allows them to explore a wide range of interests without being teased or ostracized. Students at Kirby follow their passions in many areas, including academics, music, art, drama, athletics, journalism, technology, leadership, and more. There's no bullying here because no one--teachers, parents, the administrators, and especially the students--would let that happen. It's just not part of the culture at Kirby, which makes every child safe."

-- Amy Hemmert, Kirby Alumni Parent

Responsive Faculty

"We have two kids at Kirby, one in middle school and one in high school. We love it! Can't say enough good things about the faculty--quick to give feedback and always available when we have questions or concerns. My kids are both involved in the music programs, specifically the choirs--which has been a great experience for both of them."

-- Stacey Pollard, Kirby Alumni Parent

A Welcoming Place Where Kids Can Express Themselves

"I like that you can be who you are, and it's okay here. At a time of life where the social pressures can be considerable, Kirby is a very welcoming place. The stereotype of the "cool kid" isn't a big deal. What I'm trying to say is that it's okay to be a geek here. Express yourself! The students are accepted as individuals with all the uniqueness that implies."

-- Ray Mendoza, father of a Kirby graduate, a Kirby middle school student, and a Kirby high school student

Stimulating, Motivating, Great Place to Be

"My younger son had been a "gifted" honors student through 5th and 6th grades. Suddenly, in 7th grade he became lost in overcrowded, unruly classrooms and his grades dropped. Shocked, and dismayed, I searched for alternatives, and thankfully, found Kirby. My son transferred mid year on academic probation. His grades immediately improved, and although the work load was a shock, he has found the self motivation to rise to the challenge. My older son in 10th grade, and now, my step daughter in 6th, have found Kirby to be stimulating, motivating, and a great place to be."

-- Dion Johnson, Kirby Alumni Parent

Respectful, Inclusive Environment

"Kirby is a great school. In addition to excellent academics, Kirby offers students a breadth of classes and extracurricular activities in art, drama, music, and sports. And Kirby is a respectful, inclusive environment, where students are curious, passionate, motivated, talented and downright nice. I wish I could have attended a school like Kirby."

-- Troy Trenchard, Kirby Alumni Parent

Enthusiasm Among Teachers and Students

"What most impresses me about Kirby is the students' enthusiasm for their classes and the teachers' enthusiasm for their students."

-- Suzanne McLean, Kirby Alumni Grandparent

Awesome Teachers, Motivated Learners

"I love Kirby because the teachers are awesome, and I see so many positive changes in my son since he has found his own motivation for learning at Kirby."

-- Angela Bernheisel, Kirby Alumni Parent

Individual Strengths and Talents are Appreciated

"We really donít have enough praise for Kirby. The amazingly dedicated teachers and staff have grown to know our child as an individual. They appreciate his strengths and talents while understanding his needs for special focus and individual attention. If we have a question for the teacher on a dayís assignment or interaction with the teacher or student , we send an e-mail and often get a response within the hour. Homework in posted online in a very organized and helpful format, so we can stay on top of the week's work. That is dedication! Our child has gained valuable study skills while learning to love subjects he initially had little interest in. He is not only learning the basics, he is learning how to love learning. There is nothing more valuable than that!"

-- Michelle Massie, Kirby Alumni Parent

Opportunities for Self-discovery and Enlightenment

"What I appreciate most about Kirby is the friendly, welcoming, and supportive atmosphere, challenging developmentally appropriate course work, approachable teachers, and the opportunities for self-discovery and enlightenment such an environment affords its students."

-- Gloria Muruato, Kirby Alumni Parent

Can't Imagine a Better Experience for My Son

"GBK is outstanding! The teachers are devoted, the curriculum is advanced, the atmosphere is balanced and very accepting. I can't imagine a better experience for my son! He loves it and we love it. It is a great school!"

-- Charles J Kutner, M.D., Kirby Alumni Parent

Kirby is a Place Where Students Can Explore and Discover New Interests

"Kirby has been terrific for our 12 year old boy. He has thrived in the environment with the considerably talented teachers and the small class size. He gets a lot of individual attention, which keeps him focused. There are numerous opportunities for him to explore his talents with computers, and he has discovered an interest in language and history. We are delighted with Kirby."

-- Dana Massie, Kirby Alumni Parent

At Kirby It's Cool to Be Smart

"I like that it's cool for students to show their intelligence at Kirby. I like that there are multiple avenues of study that students can explore and through which they can express themselves, such as the humanities, math, science, music, drama, and visual arts. I like the Kirby community of students, faculty, staff, and parents. By and large, I find them to be caring, intelligent, creative and thoughtful individuals."

-- Lisa Russell, Kirby Alumni Parent

More coming soon!


Kirby parents respond to the question: ďWhy did you choose Kirby?Ē

  1. Kirby's the best Santa Cruz Middle School and High school in Santa Cruz, especially for gifted kids.
  2. Enriched education, supportive social environment
  3. Our daughter is a year younger than most of her public school classmates, and because of that, less socially sophisticated. At the same time, she's an extremely good student. Kirby provided a challenging curriculum while being a safe and nurturing social environment.
  4. Small community, which leads to being known and being accountable; flexibility in learning styles and interests of the students as individuals; and the gifted talent and intelligence of the teachers.
  5. A challenging quality education and excellent faculty, and its welcoming friendly environment.
  6. My daughter begged!
  7. Local public schools are not flexible enough to keep things interesting for the smart kids. Social environment at Kirby is better than the public schools.
  8. Both of my cousins went there and it was a great opportunity for them.
  9. Kirby is a very good college prep school, and it focuses on the students.
  10. My son was bullied in the Santa Cruz middle school he went to. He did not fit in with the skateboard/surfer culture. My son just wanted to learn.
  11. I wanted more individual attention for my children and more creativity/flexibility in their education. And, Kirby provides a nurturing and stimulating environment, filled with mentorship and guidance from teachers and staff.
  12. Quality of education and the friendliness of the student body.
  13. My daughter is an excellent student and thrives on intellectual stimulation and challenges. Public schools donít offer this Ė Kirby does.
  14. My daughter chose Kirby because she is very academically competitive, and she hates being "talked down to." She knew this was the school for her.
  15. My daughter chose Kirby, largely for the population size and the incredible student/teacher ratio.
  16. The kids were more pleasant and accepting than those on the valley side.
  17. It's a good fit for the kidsí personalities, and they can worry about learning because social cliques are minimized. The cost of paying for private school is hard, but they're both so happy at Kirby that we find ways to make it work.
  18. We chose Kirby to escape from rote learning and busy work at the Santa Cruz public schools.
  19. Small class sizes.
  20. We chose Kirby because of the music program and vigorous arts program, high academic standards and small class size.
  21. We werenít satisfied with the public school teachers and staff. They seemed over worked and apathetic.
  22. We wanted small classes, and terrific academics. I was disappointed in how little teacher training some of our public school educators have.
  23. Kirby offers small classes and a supportive learning environment.
  24. Academics, small size and small class size all provided leadership opportunities.
  25. Kirby challenges our daughter. She can test herself.
  26. I choose Kirby because I thought my daughter would do well here. She came from a small private school and I heard good things about it from others who go to Kirby. I like who the teachers are and for the most part how they teach. And I wanted my daughter to have a chance to take the art, theater or choir if she wanted that.
  27. We chose it for the high degree of academics, emotional support through the years, great community of students/teachers/parents and location and facilities.
  28. High academic expectations, small classes, engaged instructors.
  29. Our daughter was the one who chose. She became interested when friends went on shadow visits. She asked to do a shadow visit and we let her, even though we didn't think we could afford it/get enough financial aid.
  30. My child chose Kirby because of the small class sizes, the atmosphere of respect at Kirby, and the quality academic, music and theater programs.
  31. The combination of academic rigor and opportunities to develop the whole student in music, arts, service, and athletics.
  32. I like how Kirby challenges my children, and I feel they will be well prepared for college.
  33. To receive a strong college prep academic program in a fun and happy atmosphere.
  34. We wanted a smaller school where my son would be accepted by others. Quality of teachers and curriculum.
  35. My teen has social interaction delays and Kirby is a smaller environment.
  36. I liked the size of the school; it's individual attention (I thought he'd get lost at Santa Cruz High) and the possibility for him to focus on the arts.
  37. For the excellent faculty and course offerings not found in the Santa Cruz County public schools.
  38. My child chose to go to Kirby.
  39. I didnít want my child "falling through the cracks" at public school. We discovered that in the Santa Cruz public schools, learning differences were not managed and the staff had no ability to address my child's needs.
  40. Kirby offered the most of any public or private school: Latin, inclusive and non-judgmental environment, non-emphasis on sports/athletics, teacher/student ratio.
  41. We chose Kirby for the small class size, liberal and inclusive philosophy, and for the arts - in that order.
  42. The broad range of classes (topics and AP courses), colleges that graduating seniors were accepted at, scheduling flexibility (structure courses based on students interests), AP scores.
  43. My child gets more personal attention, forms stronger relationships, develops a life-long love of learning.
  44. I wanted smaller class sizes, patient and kind teachers, and a more respectful school society for my son.
  45. No drugs or gangs or bullying...basically, for its healthy and safe learning environment and overall academic opportunities. Better class choices, etc...
  46. Kirbyís music and art program!!! And, our daughter was not being challenged at her previous public school.
  47. College prep academics and environment surrounded by peers who are college prep.
  48. Initially it was to get him away from bullies and uncontrolled classrooms. After he was at Kirby he didn't want to leave.
  49. To provide an environment where learning and intelligence were honored.
  50. Kirby is a small school with exceptional arts -- great teachers and academic rigor.
  51. We wanted him to be around other motivated students, in an environment where achievement is applauded. No need to "hide." He also really benefited from the small class sizes.
  52. It offered subjects and programs that other schools didn't - Latin and music were the big draws. She also needs to be challenged academically and Kirby adjusts for that.
  53. We knew Kirby would be a good fit because our child is bright and values a stimulating environment where she can stretch to her potential.
  54. His sister was already here; he didn't get into PCS. But, once he was here, he decided he liked it enough to stay.
  55. Because it is the best school around.
  56. Kirby provides a great environment in which to learn - attentive staff and well used classroom time. And, Kirby is a very comfortable place to be.
  57. Enthusiastic, challenging learning environment. Quality assignments vs. quantity. Flexible teachers but with high expectations.
  58. We wanted a high level of academic preparation and a supportive environment.
  59. In middle school, we were looking for rigorous academics. We have come to realize that what's important is being healthy, happy & engaged; Kirby enables that by offering opportunities in many areas, as well as extremely caring faculty and staff. We knew from the beginning that Kirby focuses on the whole person, not on test results.
  60. We wanted our son to get the best education in a safe and friendly environment.
  61. We chose Kirby for the small class sizes and curriculum that it offers.
  62. Better education and peer group than Santa Cruz public schools.
  63. Definitely the small class sizes and a lot of one on one with teachers as well as the higher standards for education. I want him to love learning, not find it drudgery or something just to get through.
  64. College prep school where good social values are modeled and reinforced.
  65. She chose it because she wanted to be academically challenged and to be prepared for success at a 4-year university.
  66. The academic challenge it had to offer my child. I wanted the college prep for him to excel in college.
  67. I chose to send my son to Kirby because of the small class size and the high-quality teachers.
  68. Santa Cruz Middle School (Mission Hill) did not offer adequate acceleration in math and had a reputation for warehousing middle-school kids.
  69. I felt that Kirby treats children as individuals. And it helps children to reach their full potential.
  70. Safety. Prospect for learning about herself.
  71. The academic curriculum from sixth through twelfth is excellent. And, we got a good impression of teachers and staff when we toured the school.

Are you a Kirby parent?

Please tell us why you think Kirby is the best Santa Cruz High School!


How cool is this?

Kirby parents prepare a teacher appreciation luncheon once a month--and then they sit down and enjoy the meal WITH the teachers. It's a wonderful way for parents and teachers to get to know one another better. We love it!

Kirby parents get together regularly, not because they have to, but because they truly enjoy one another's company.

Middle school parents attend parent/teacher conferences for all middle school classes. Itís one more way for teachers and parents to work together to ensure that each student's needs and interests are met.

At Kirby, parents are encouraged to contribute to the schoolís success in ways that interest them. Would you like to enjoy our amazing cafeteria fare? Assist in the cafe! Interested in world cultures? Get to know our international students! Whether itís working with students, parents or on your own, youíre sure to find an interesting and rewarding opportunity.