Parents voice on Grade Schools: Meridian, UCDS, Bertschi

Many people from my “Mom’s group” have requested that I post responses to my request for
input on 3 grade schools: Meridian, UCDS and Bertschi.

To See where our family is now in school, check out this follow up post

If you have further input, please comment below!

Here are responses, (and my interpretation of our phone conversation).

UCDS: (Closed to 2009 applicants)

1) “You’re probably looking for the parent perspective, but I was a
student at UCDS many, many years ago, when the school was just
starting as a sort of ‘experimental’ program. Through the years, it
has maintained its core values and seems to be an even better school
than it was at its inception. I now have two colleagues with children
at UCDS, and frankly, you can’t get a word in edgewise; they’re soo
enthusiastic about the school, the teachers, the community.

I went on to Seattle Country Day and then Lakeside; I’m still in touch
with several of my UCDS classmates, and of whom are well rounded,
interesting, grounded adults. ”

2)I have a daughter in K, and a son in pre-K, at UCDS. We love it.

3) We have our son at Kindergarten at UCDS and we all LOVE it. Very
innovative and geared towards a strong individual student program that
teaches learning to be fun.

4) My son goes to UCDS, last year in Pre-K, this year in Kindergarten.
He’s very happy there. They have a great student-teacher ratio, a
very creative program, and are very capable at engaging kids with the
topics that they are interested in and using that to build their skills.

Bertschi: (There are only about 8-10 Kindergarten openings for 2009)
1) My daughter is in pre-k at Bertschi. We are really happy with the
school so far. (This Mom gave me her phone number but we have yet to
2)My son is in Kindergarten at Bertschi. Happy to chat. (our phone
conversation revealed a long commute, but not a problem since it’s so
well worth it. Car pooling works well. She emphasized Bertschi
challenging her son who is a strong leader and bright. Kids given
numerous opportunities for “public speaking”, personal expression,
music, performance. Arts emphasis in general, but not at the expense
of strong academics. She is most impressed with the Social Emotional
development of the students, as actively encouraged by teachers. This
is a mature school with a strong curriculum.)

Meridian: (There are only about 12 Kindergarten openings for 2009)
1) My older daughter is in kindergarten at Meridian this year and my
younger daughter will likely go there next year (she is a July
birthday and we are still thinking about it). Just wanted to let you
know how happy we are with the school, the families, curriculum, etc..
Feel free to ask any further questions via e-mail or give me a call
(During our phone conversation the mom couldn’t say enough about the
warm, intimate, community-oriented atmosphere among families. She
feels the school is well rounded with a music program and Neo-Art
classes, but says the emphasis is on academics. Her high-level student
get’s what she needs to challenge her. The every-Monday morning
all-school meeting is a wonderful community building event. They have
just presented the all-school play, which was a “hit” and had 3
kindergartners. Drama is an after school elective activity. The after
school program has the kids outside much of the time regardless of the
weather. Her enthusiasm was contagious. The Headmaster is strong, and
the school is highly organized in a low-key sort of way.)

2) From the time I interviewed I knew Meridian was the school for us. The director and admissions person remembered meeting me at the open house. Unlike the other schools visited, Meridian felt it mattered that Meridian become our school of choice. Meridian let us know we are welcome and appreciated- important to us since other than being an involved parent with a bright kid, we didn’t bring a huge endowment to share. Time is what we have to give, and it’s clearly valued here. They give us time and personal attention so naturally our child receives that and much more. Meridian is a welcoming, solid, creative place for our family to grow in intelligence and establish community.

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  • Marion DeForest - I have two kids at Meridian, and they are both thriving. One child is bright & high-level and is continually challenged academically, and the other is a bit slower academically but is also nurtured and supported. You can’t beat the setting — the Good Shepherd Center has the Senior Center, Seattle Tilth and lots of great nonprofits that Meridian partners with, and the playground has REAL grass (plus bunnies, birds and apple trees.) The kids seem kind to each other — older kids always seem to be watching out for my Kindergartner; it’s really sweet. Good luck with your decision!ReplyCancel

  • mom - are we the only ones? we really loved the independent schools – low teacher/student ration (i.e. 15 kids toReplyCancel

  • mom - got cut off above… anyway, we loved the independent schools, we have toured them and applied for our child in 2007, 2008 (rejected both times) and now 2009 – our K year. but saddly, we were rejected from all 8 that we applied to; yes, we made the waitpool for 3 schools, but i think that is fairly useless. is anyone else in this situation: had your heart set on private school and were in love with the 15 kid class size, spanish starting in K, etc but then got turned down everywhere? we really feel awful about it because our child has some unique needs (reads at a grade 2 level and is 4) and none of the 8 NE cluster schools (while all have their strong points) seem like a fit from our perspective… it is just that a K class with 30 kids and no enrichment can’t possibly match the strengths we saw in the independent schools like Bertschi or UCDS or Meridian or SCDS… just curious if anyone else got rejected and what your thoughts about it are.ReplyCancel

  • Janet Klinger - Have you heard of 826 Seattle? “826 Seattle is a nonprofit writing center that helps students, ages 6 to 18, develop their creative and expository writing skills. We are dedicated to providing students with access to writing workshops, publishing projects, and one-on-one help with homework and English language learning, all free of charge.”

    No matter what school your child goes to, no matter how they place on the spectrum, who wouldn’t love this idea? From what I hear, the volunteers are Pros in the writing industry. Don’t take my word. Visit the website, and then the Space Travel (Wild!) storefront in Greenwood to experience 826 yourself.

  • Michael - Which school did you ultimately choose?

    Did you consider SCDS too?

    We are just now going through this process for our child who will be a Kindergardener in fall 2010.


  • JanetKlinger - Hi Micheal,
    Seattle Country Day School is also a wonderful choice. We didn’t consider it because we didn’t want Ellie to go to an ALL high achiever school as we find so much value in other achievements too. The school is extremely impressive in so many ways. We just didn’t want intellect to be THE value. I don’t mean to imply that is the only reason people go to SCDS, simply that our family full of artists, writers, an animator, architect, etc has chosen to emphasis community with all our neighbors, enjoying many different aspects of development. Congratulations on choosing this highly esteemed school. If it was in my neighborhood, I can never say never… We chose Meridian School. See the follow up post at

  • Bindi - We would have loved our 5 year old to go to UCDS but he was rejected for kindergarten next year. We have been waitlisted at SCDS — do waitlists really work? Is there a better chance of kids getting in at Grade 1 level, through attrition? Our public school isn’t the best..ReplyCancel

  • Christiane - Bindi,
    We’re in exactly the boat — we’d have loved UCDS for our kindergartener, but were rejected.. I’m keen to know whether people who are waitlisted at SCDS ever make it.. our public school isn’t great either.ReplyCancel

  • The Meridian School- To Go or Not to Go | Seattle Wedding & Portrait Photographer Janet Klinger's Photography Blog - […] The angst was our own; a result of many fine private schools to choose from. (See this past post for a few others great Seattle private school choices.) Sad at lost opportunity and confused by the transitions and chaos (at least during 2009 and 2010) […] ReplyCancel