A Chance to Learn About Private High Schools

Students interested in attending a private high school are invited to attend the 20th annual “Independent School Night,” on Wednesday, October 3, from 7 to 8:30 pm, at Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd.

The free event is open to all students in the Santa Barbara area and their parents, who are invited to speak with representatives from 30 independent high schools, both day and boarding, from our community and around the nation. Some of the local schools participating include: The Anacapa School, Bishop Diego Garcia, Besant Hill of Happy Valley, Cate, Dunn, Laguna Blanca, Midland, Oak Grove, Ojai Valley, Providence Hall, San Roque, Thacher and Villanova.

Other schools from farther away include: Annie Wright, Emma Willard, Foxcroft, Hawaii Prep Academy, Idyllwild Arts Academy, Lawrence Academy, Midland, Providence Hall, St. Mark’s, Santa Catalina, Southwestern Academy, Stevenson, St. Timothy’s, Orme School, Wasatch, Webb, Westover and Woodside Priory.

The event is sponsored by Crane Country Day School; the Western Boarding Schools Association, an association of 39 college preparatory schools, and Hamilton & Associates, an educational consultant.

Dawn Lafitte, whose oldest daughter Allie is in eighth grade at Crane, is one Montecito parent planning on attending the event. “This is our first go-round at applying to high school, so we’re rookies trying to gain some insight,” she said. “There are so many choices when it comes to high school, so this event will give us an idea of each school’s personality. It’s a great way to get a general overview about a school before taking a campus tour.”

Lynn Hamilton, a high school and college educational counselor, started the event 20 years ago to offer families a better understanding of the many choices for high school. “We wanted people to know what was available, not just in Santa Barbara, but across the nation,” she said.

For some children, independent school is a better option than public school, Hamilton said. “You get a lot more individual attention at an independent school, especially when it comes to counseling,” she said. “You might find a better fit for your child.”

Hamilton has noticed a recent increase in interest in independent schools from families who live in Santa Barbara. She estimated that last year’s event drew approximately 120 people, one of the best turnouts in all of California for this type of event. “We have East Coast boarding schools calling us, asking if they can come because they’ve heard what a good turnout we have,” she said.

For the past two years, Addison Mayfield, who is now a freshman at Cate, attended Independent School Night with one of her parents. “It opened my eyes to the whole idea of independent schools,” said Amy Mayfield, Addison’s mother. “It was very helpful not only for the local independent schools like Cate, Laguna, and Bishop Diego, but it also helped you explore schools from all over the country that I never would have sought out on my own.”

For more information, contact Debbie Williams at (805) 969-7732, ext. 105.