We San Franciscans might just have the most stressful school admission process in the United States, but we are rewarded with some truly unique and outstanding public and independent schools.
The Adda Clevenger Junior Preparatory and Theater School in Noe Valley, certainly falls into the unique category. The word parents at the school use most often to describe it is “magical,” and so it is, for an energetic, outgoing child who thrives on variety.
Like many San Francisco schools, Adda Clevenger offers solid academics, a small-school environment, committed teachers, and a friendly, diverse community of families. Of course we love those things, but let’s focus on what sets Adda Clevenger apart.
That would be the musical theater program, which is just as much part of the core curriculum as reading and math. From kindergarten on, Adda Clevenger students receive extensive daily training from respected professionals in singing, dance and acting. Each year, every child performs in two major musicals, a dance show, and a graduation concert. We continue to be astounded by the professional polish of the shows and the technical progress of the children, most of whom arrive at the school without any visibly remarkable talent. After nine years, an Adda Clevenger student will know vocal music, acting, ballet, tap and every social dance you can name. No other K through 8 school in San Francisco, public or private, offers such an in-depth theater arts program.
This would be of questionable value if Adda Clevenger let academics fall by the wayside, but most graduates are admitted to top public and independent Bay Area high schools. Also unique is the practice of having subject teachers at all grades, even kindergarten. Teachers teach subjects they love. No child spends a whole year in a classroom with a single teacher with whom he has a less-than-ideal relationship.
Students also enjoy possibly the best school fitness program in San Francisco, with PE and gymnastics 45 minutes daily.
Adda Clevenger is all the more remarkable for accomplishing what it does on an open-enrollment basis. There are no auditions, academic evaluations, or lotteries. If there is space and the family can pay, any child who can keep up with the curriculum may attend. Most children will excel. It is magical.