Sunday, December 16, 2012

High school!
As you could probably have guessed, the process of choosing a high school for T in Italy is not going to be free of complications. The open house at the high school Scientifico was not what we expected. For one thing it wasn't an open house as much as a meeting with a Q&A component that went on forever. It was cute that the kids went around with the current students and had a more informal tour. We went over with T's friend Giorgia and her family. Giorgia's mom is Italian and her dad is from England. She has lived in both London and Rome before moving to Lucca. Here is the breakdown between the three best schools that T has to choose from:

1. Classico. The Classico in theory would have been the perfect school for T given that it emphasizes all of the subjects she likes best. On the other hand, you could say that maybe we as parents should make her choose a high school that will improve her skills in the areas that she is the weakest. Actually, that would not be possible unless there is a school that is all about technical drawing and flute playing which are currently her lowest grades in school. This school has a reputation for attracting the brainiacs and kids whose parents are professors. Despite the fact that T is a good student of math and science, she much prepares to study literature, history, philosophy and languages. Classico offers both Latin and Greek and has a very strong foundation in Italian grammar and literature and history. The negative is that the professors are famous for being strict, distant, cruel and demanding. There are many hours of homework, essay writing, and tests. Extra curricular activities are frowned upon and when asked if they would have chosen Classico if they could do it all over again, the kids who came to talk to the middle-schoolers shook their heads no until the teacher glared at them and made them change their tunes.

2. Scientifico e Scienze Applicate. This school offers the best preparation in math and science with an emphasis on earth science and physics. You are expected to do theory work as well as laboratory work, and they do not offer Latin at the Scienze Applicate. There is no foreign language offered other than English which is mandatory in all of the schools and in which we expect T to be a total star. More boys go to this school so the ratios are more even.

3. Scientifico Linguistico. This is a school almost entirely made up of girls. Even though they share the same math professors as the Scientifico, the offerings are not as challenging and the number of hours is greatly reduced. If T chose this school she might have the most fun. The teachers seemed very motherly and sweet. She would most likely be fluent in Spanish and French as well as Italian by the end of it. She could also take a language like Japanese or Russian afterschool as well as additional computer science and Latin. They travel as a class to different countries in Europe to do cultural exchanges and I have no idea how we would handle that. Would both of one of us go with her? Could we get on the same plane? Could we get off from work? Could we afford it? The girls who go to this school love it. They also get to volunteer in tourism related businesses so they have the experience on their resumes. If she went to this school we would probably hire a math tutor to give her extra math each week.

In the end, we have one month to decide and really don't know what to choose. Of course T wants to go to school with Giorgia and Caoimhe, but neither of them has decided either although they are not even considering the Classico. The building where they house all of the Scientifico is not lovely, but at least it is spacious. The Classico is in a beautiful old palazzo near our house. We're going to check that school out in person on Wednesday. T's tutors from last year went there and they are both very well educated, brilliant and cool girls. They also stayed up until midnight studying on a regular basis. Also they were best friends in a supportive class that stuck together and helped each other out which is very rare. At this moment, we have no idea which school we will choose.

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