Harker School

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Harker School
Upper School: 500 Saratoga Avenue, San Jose, California

Middle School: 3800 Blackford Ave., San Jose, California
Lower School: 4300 Bucknall Rd., San Jose, California
Preschool: 4525 Union Ave. San Jose, California

United States

Type Independent
Motto Aim High, Have Fun
Established 1893
Head of school Christopher Nikoloff
Faculty 450
Grades PreK-12
Enrollment Upper School - 720
Color(s) Green      and White     
Mascot Eagle
Tuition Gr. 9-12: $38,900

Gr. 6-8: $35,700
Gr. K-5: $28,500


The Harker School is a private, co-educational, non-profit college preparatory school in San Jose, California, United States. Founded in 1893 as Manzanita Hall by Frank Cramer in Palo Alto, Harker now has four separate campuses: Bucknall, Blackford, Union and Saratoga, named for the streets on which they lie. Bucknall is the Lower School campus, educating kindergarten through grade 5. The Middle School, grades 6 to 8, is on the Blackford campus, the Upper School, grades 9 to 12, is on the Saratoga campus and the Preschool, Ages 3–5 is on the Union campus.

The current Harker administration is led by Christopher Nikoloff, who succeeded Howard and Diana Nichols following their retirement after the 2004-05 academic year. Howard Nichols was the son of Major Donald L. Nichols, who created the present day Harker School by merging the Palo Alto Military Academy in Palo Alto (as Manzanita Hall was then called) with Harker Day School in 1972 and moving to the Saratoga campus.[1][2] The Upper Division is led by Butch Keller, the Middle Division by Cindy Kerr Ellis, the Elementary Division by Kristin Giammona, the Primary Division by Sarah Leonard and the Preschool Division by Kelly Espinosa.


Upper School[edit]

The upper school, offering grades 9-12, is located on the Saratoga Avenue campus. The upper school was added to the K-8 program in 1998, with the first class of graduates in 2002. Currently, there are about 800 students in the upper school. Harker completed the largest capital expansion project in its history with the completion of a new athletic field in September 2007, a new aquatic center in April 2008, and a Gold LEED-certified Science and Technology center, Nichols Hall, in time for the start of the 2008-09 academic year. It was the first school in Santa Clara County to have a Gold LEED-certified building. [1] The building cost approximately $25 million to build.


One hundred percent of Harker seniors are accepted to four-year colleges, and most go on to the more selective colleges in the country, including Harvard, Yale University, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, Caltech, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, Duke, Brown, Cornell, Washington University in St. Louis, and UC Berkeley.[3] Harker students are selected largely based on their academic aptitude.[4][disputed ]

Harker has the highest ranking by The College Board for Advanced Placement test scores for AP Computer Science, AP Psychology, AP Chemistry, AP Microeconomics, and AP Calculus.[5]

Many Harker students are involved in research, which is also shared annually at the Harker Research Symposium. Coined "The 'It' School For the Next Einsteins" in the San Jose Mercury News, the school fosters a culture of student-generated, original research. In the Siemens Competition, Harker had four national semifinalists in both 2006-07 and 2007–08 and six in 2008-09. In the 2012 competition, Harker had six regional semifinalists and four regional finalists. In 2006-07, 2007–08, 2008–09 and 2009-10 Intel Science Talent Search, 3-6 Harker seniors were named national semifinalists, the largest number of any school west of the Mississippi in those years.[6][7] Harker student Yi Sun (class of 2006) and Intel finalist won a $75,000 second place award in the Intel Science Talent Search in 2006.[8] In 2009-10, Harker had another Intel finalist, Namrata Anand, noted by New York Times columnist, Thomas Freedman, in his column "America's Real Dream Team." In 2010-11, Harker was the only school with two Intel Finalists.[9][10] In 2011-12, Harker had 11 Intel Semifinalists, the highest in California, just behind Stuyvesant High School in New York.[11] In 2012, Harker had four regional finalists and six semifinalists in the Siemens Competition: one-fourth of the regional finalists in California were from Harker.[12]


While known primarily for its academic focus, Harker offers an extensive athletics program, consisting of football, volleyball, soccer, track and field, basketball, baseball, tennis, golf, softball, lacrosse, cross country running, swimming and diving, water polo, wrestling, cheerleading, yoga, fitness, physical education, and dance. Advanced sports facilities, such as the new Davis Field and the Singh Aquatic Center (which features a state-of-the-art racing pool), are quickly developing because of monetary contributions. Students are allowed and encouraged to participate in sports from 4th grade onwards. Some sports such as lacrosse, diving, track and field, and tennis are only offered in middle school and high school. Most sports are separate for girls and boys but others are co-ed. The school is in the Central Coast Section of the California Interscholastic Federation and is classified as Division III in some sports and Division IV in others.

Performing arts[edit]

Harker also has a diverse K-12 performing arts program. The upper school program offers courses in vocal and instrumental ensembles, acting, dance, and technical theater, as well as an intense focus program called the Certificate Program.

The Certificate Program allows upper school students to "major" in a specific discipline within the performing arts, requiring them to take specialized classes and participate in performances in order to graduate. They are guided by an advisor; all of the upper school performing arts teachers remain active professionals in their disciplines. At the end of their senior years, candidates perform a piece from their portfolios at a formal senior showcase, and then receive their certificate designating completion of the program. The school’s musical theater department has been invited twice to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, in 2007 (“Urinetown: The Musical”) and 2011 (“Pippin”). The orchestra played by invitation at the 2012 London New Year’s Parade and Alice Tully Hall in 2009. Cantilena, a classical women’s vocal ensemble, toured Italy in 2012.

Vocal groups include the show choir Downbeat!, the classical and all-female Cantilena, the classical chamber choir Camerata, and the beginning choir Bel Canto, as well as a student-run a cappella boys group called Guys’ Gig.[13] In addition, Harker has a play each fall, a musical each spring, and a student-directed showcase each winter. Harker's instrumental music program includes an orchestra and a jazz band, and as of the 2012-2013 school year a second, freshman jazz band. The dance program at Harker focuses on many different styles of dance and also allows selected Upper School Dance Conservatory students to choreograph many of the numbers in the annual Upper School Dance Production at the end of January. Two audition-only groups, Varsity Dance Troupe and Junior Varsity Dance Troupe, perform at various events and venues throughout the school year.


Harker has a substantial journalism program with an award winning newspaper (The Winged Post), yearbook (TALON) and website (TalonWP). The newspaper was named 2007 Silver Medalist by Columbia Scholastic Press Association. In 2010 The Winged Post won a Silver Crown and TalonWP.com won a Gold Crown from the CSPA for excellence in writing, coverage and content. The Gold Crown is the highest recognition given annually by the CSPA, which recognizes student print or online media for overall excellence. In 2011, TalonWP.com took home the Silver Crown. The website was awarded a Gold Crown in 2012 and nominated for a Pacemaker.

The yearbook was named 2007, 2005, 2004, 2002 Gold Medalist; 2003, 2006 Silver Medalist; 2000 Bronze Medalist by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. It also earned a 1st Place Award from American Scholastic Press Association.

Speech and Debate[edit]

Harker has an accomplished speech and debate program that offers the primary events officially sanctioned by the National Forensics League. In 2012, two students from Harker won the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Public Forum Debate. In the past, Harker has produced national finalists in Dramatic Interpretation (2011 and 2013) and Congressional Debate (2008). In addition, competitors from Harker have won the Tournament of Champions in Public Forum Debate in 2009 and 2011. At the end of the 2012-2013 academic year Harker was ranked the 8th best school in the nation by the National Forensics League.

Middle School[edit]

Harker Middle School building (Blackford campus).

The middle school is located on the Blackford campus, the former site of Blackford High School. The site was rented starting in the 2005-06 school year.[14] Before 1998, grade 8 was the final year at Harker and middle school graduates matriculated to private and public high schools in the Bay Area. Since the opening of Harker's upper school in 1998, most students choose to remain at Harker. Ninety percent of the 2012 grade 8 class continued on to Harker's upper school. Uniforms, which can be either navy blue or khaki, are required in the middle school. There is a school meeting every Monday morning. Announcements are made, and the student council addresses any school issues with students and teachers. Free dress days occur every other Friday with a few exceptions for special events. Eighth graders get an extra free dress day every month. Many components aid in the shift from the lower school to the middle school, including various athletic and artistic programs. There is also a fine arts requirement: students in grades 7 and 8 must take at least one arts class or participate in one arts event in order to graduate, although sixth  graders are encouraged to do so as well.

Lower School[edit]

The elementary school is located on the Bucknall campus, the former site of Bucknall Elementary School. The campus was sold to Harker by the Moreland School District, and classes started there in the 1998-99 school year.[15] The lower school also has an after-school orchestra, as well as sports and other activities. Uniform is required for the lower school children, with free dress days for fun holidays and school events.


Harker's tuition is higher than most private schools in the Bay Area.[16][17][18][19] Pre-School tuition is $23,900 for a full day, $16,900 for a half day; kindergarten and elementary tuition is $29,800; middle school tuition is $37,600; upper school tuition is $40,500. Textbooks, uniforms (K-8), and laptop fees are additional. Lunch is included in the tuition for grades 6-12, offering regular, vegan and vegetarian options on each campus. Extended care (7 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and after-school activities are also included in tuition for all grade levels, but does not include music, performing arts and sports fees.

As an independent school, operations are funded by tuition, fees, interest from endowment, and annual charitable giving. Special capital giving campaigns have provided for facilities such as the Gold LEED-certified Nichols Hall, housing the school’s science and technology facilities, the Singh Aquatics Center, and Davis Field, which were completed in 2008. Capital fundraising is currently taking place to construct a new performing arts center and gymnasium. The tuition increases by about 5-7% each year.

Annual giving[edit]

The Harker School has an annual giving fundraising session used to pay for the 30% of the school's expenses that tuition does not cover. These expenses include the performing arts, clubs and athletic programs. Currently a $25 million annual campaign is under way,supported by parents, alumni and corporate contributions, which will result in a new performing arts and gym complex on the upper school campus.[20] Also, seniors can purchase a walkway brick with a cost corresponding to the graduation year (e.g. Class of 2008 = $2008).


External links[edit]

37°18′48″N 121°58′08″W / 37.31322°N 121.9689°W / 37.31322; -121.9689