Bishop's Schoolreview by Princeton University student. The academic program at Bishop's School is stellar. It excels in all areas--humanities, science, foreign language, performing arts. The teachers I had when I was there (which was four years ago) were wonderful for the most part, though a few of those have moved on to retirement or other schools--most notably the best English teacher. Science at Bishop's is particularly great. AP Chemistry, AP Physics and AP Biology are all top-notch, and the first two are the hardest courses at the school. There are also wonderful science electives (such as Forensics) that cater to those who want to take science, but not at such a difficult level. The history department was also quite good, and with varied classes ranging from the perennial favorite, AP European History, to the many available electives. AP US History had a bit of a struggle when I was there, but the class has since moved on to a new teacher and may be doing swimmingly now. The English department is quite varied in its strengths and weaknesses. Each of its teachers had distinct styles of teaching when I was there, so there was not a lot of uniformity and quite a bit of variance from class to class. Take that as you will: some classes did more journaling than you can imagine, while others read the teachers' favorite books, others wrote papers every other week and had a huge emphasis on writing. For the most part, each teacher is very good, they just happen to have different styles. The foreign languages at Bishop's also vary a bit. The Spanish department has something for everyone, and if you surpass the AP Literature class, an independent study is available to you. Everyone has to complete Spanish up to a 3rd-year competency level, but there are two tracks to take to get there, the advanced and the regular. The regular track can be tedious and not fun, while the advanced track is much more enjoyable and with less busy work, but more reading (somewhat less rote, but more fun). French courses are interesting. They are taught by two women from France who have a very French attitude toward learning. They are quite effective, but they aren't American and are often at odds with the American way of life, learning and culture. They run an exchange program every year between Bishop's and a school in France, which is very popular. They definitely have a holistic approach to learning French, and pour their all into teaching their students. The Chinese department is relatively new, but quite good, though Chinese is just hard to learn in general. The Latin department is wonderful. One of the best teachers of the school heads it, and he makes class a joy to attend. Performing arts are a major strong point at Bishop's. The theater department has a range of courses, from introductory acting to its audition-only theater group. The improv is wonderful, and every two years there is a huge production of a musical that brings together the dance, music and theater departments. The music department is excellent as well, with its audition-only group getting top honors at music festivals every year. The dance department also has an audition-only group and is very good, though slightly less stable than the theater and dance department in recent years. Its visual arts is slightly below the level of the rest of its curriculum, simply because it isn't emphasized as much, but it is still excellent and well above the quality at nearly any other school. The course selection is incredible. My main complaint was that there were too many courses I wanted to take and not enough room in my schedule. The best part about Bishop's though is its rotating schedule. Not having every class every day made the workload manageable, which was key there because the workload was so much. The student body is largely congenial and warm. Pretty much everyone is working toward the same goal of going to a top school, but grades weren't viewed very competitively. Class size was one of the best parts of Bishop's. Essentially no class was over 15 students, and many were under 10, especially at the upper level. Classes grow very close-knit. The faculty is extremely caring and accessible, and often helped me with my life problems outside the classroom. I developed an extremely close rapport with the faculty and often had teachers multiple years. The work load is very difficult. It is an extremely challenging school that pushes its students, especially considering all the extracurricular activities its students also take on. However, this is largely self-induced, as the work load is extremely hard for those who choose AP classes and want to get As, and less so for those who do not. Bishop's emphasizes learning for the sake of learning to the nth degree, but its students always do well on AP exams. It has a very good way of providing a holistic education while preparing its students for standardized tests. It even eliminated bells signaling the end of class each period because it wanted to reduce the stress in the learning environment. Bishop's could not have prepared me better academically for college than it did. College has been positively pleasant, and the work load easier in a lot of ways than the one I had at Bishop's, simply because I have so much more time now. I know how to study, manage my time, and write a paper. I came in not having to take a foreign language, with enough AP credit to graduate early if I had wanted, and with a firm grasp of the concept of selectively choosing the work that had to get done, since I realized coming in that not everything would be able to be done.
The school cafeteria and food options are awesome at Bishop's. It really does not get any better. There are a multitude of options every day for lunch, from pasta bar to salad bar to the hot meal option to soup to deli bar, and more. The frozen yogurt machine was always a favorite as well. The campus is the most beautiful one, hands-down, in San Diego, and would surely rank highly on a national scale as well. The grounds are beautifully manicured, mostly everything is outdoors, students eat on the grassy quad for lunch. It is in an extremely nice neighborhood two blocks from the beach. It has enrichment periods every day that expose students to various things, whether it is a chapel service, a theater or singing performance, a speech by a visiting lecturer, an ethnic dance, an informative presentation, etc. They are constantly trying hard to educate each person holistically. Of course, quality of life is decreased by the stress of the environment, in which everyone feels pressured to do well in order to get into college, but they do their best given the circumstances. The ethnic and socio-economic background of the student body has been diversifying in recent years following the administration's efforts to do so. There are still many white and affluent students, but not to the extent that you would think. The Hispanic, black and Asian population have been increasing, and with improved financial aid, so has the socio-economic diversity of the students.
Athletics at Bishop's are excellent. Some sports are better than others, and many vary from year to year, but my participation in sports was by far one of my most rewarding experiences in high school. Rivals are Francis Parker and, to a lesser extent, La Jolla Country Day. Coronado is our water polo rival. Bishop's is the best in the county in water polo, sharing that title with Coronado. It always makes a good run in its division in basketball and girls' volleyball. The soccer teams are both generally very good in their divisions as well. Football and cross country occasionally field good teams as well. Field hockey and women's lacrosse are both extremely fun sports, and while they don't win division titles yet, the lacrosse team does win its conference often, and has been improving exponentially in recent years (it was only started about 9 years ago). Being a part of these teams fulfilled the mandatory physical education requirement, but also gave me some of the best friendships and memories of high school. Practices are every week day for 2 hours, with games about two times per week. Team bonding was frequent, and sports teams grew very close by the end of the season. The teams who had the same coach from year to year were often the closest, especially when that coach was a member of the faculty (as was the case for field hockey, lacrosse, volleyball, water polo and a few others). As discussed above, performing arts are excellent at Bishop's. Being a part of plays and musicals were some of my other favorite memories of school and led to long-lasting friendships.