By: Jaclyn Kotora, Editorial Staff (‘23)
In recent years school enrollment has shifted considerably between schools in the Ramapo Indian Hills High School District. As shown from the school’s annual performance results (on rih.org) and the NJ School Performance Reports webpage, since the 2014-15 school year, enrollment has shifted from a majority of students at Indian Hills to a majority enrollment at Ramapo. The following shows RIH District student enrollment in the past school years:
Indian Hills: 1225
2016 – 2017
Indian Hills: 1110
Indian Hills: 1057
Indian Hills: 956
Indian Hills: 912
Indian Hills: 839
What is causing this shift in enrollment? The curriculums at both schools are the same, except for the University Programs offered. When students in the FLOW district are faced with choosing which school they would like to attend, many different factors play into their decision.
One of the major contributing factors is the programs offered to students at each school. Abeer Shuja, currently a sophomore at Indian Hills high school, moved into the FLOW district from Texas just before starting freshman year. “Ramapo is closer to us, but we did not know that at the time,” Abeer shares, “Even so, I have a pretty big interest in science and want to go into the medical field. Since Indian Hills offers the UPSMR [UP Science, Medicine, and Research], it worked out nicely, so that was definitely a deciding factor in my decision to go to Indian Hills”.
The University Programs offered in the district attract students to a particular school. Ramapo offers an Engineering and Design UP course (UPE&D), while Indian Hills offers Science, Medicine, and Research (UPSMR) and International Studies and Business (UPISB).
Max Nevelos, an 8th grader attending Eisenhower Middle School, shares, “I want to go to Ramapo so I can do the engineering UP course.” He also commented that a majority of people from Eisenhower are planning to attend Ramapo, and he suggests the sports programs might be a part of those decisions.
Location is also another contributor to what school to attend. In the case of Eisenhower which is located in Wyckoff, Ramapo would be the closest option for school. Similarly, Indian Hills would be a closer option for those living in Oakland. Another person from Indian Hills shared, “The education is the same in both schools…Hills is a local option [for me], and that is where my friends went… I liked the environment more, and I planned to go there for the next four years.”
Besides the UP programs, certain things like arts, music, and sports appeal to students’ interests and passions which affect which school they are drawn to. While both Ramapo and Indian Hills offer similar clubs, sports, programs, and extracurriculars, they have slightly different atmospheres. Taline Banks, current senior at Ramapo High School, discusses why she chose Ramapo, sharing, “The main thing that made Ramapo stick out was the theatre program. I am heavily involved in Gold Masque, and knowing that theatre had such a huge presence at Po was major for me. Also, because my sister was a senior at Ramapo at the time I knew a lot of people and teachers she had introduced me to. The absolute deciding factor, though, was the winter concert at Ramapo because looking at the band and choir, I saw a lot of people that I knew and loved and knew I would have a better transition to Ramapo.”
At Indian Hills, Kate Ostrowski, a junior from Wyckoff, shares, “The band rooms at both Ramapo and Indian Hills stood out… the bandleader at Ramapo was very straightforward, but the bandleader at Hills gave off a very warm vibe.”
Although the two schools have a different atmosphere, both Indian Hills and Ramapo create a comfortable environment for students and staff to learn and have fun with their peers. LeeAnn Downey, a freshman from Oakland who went to Ramapo, shares, “I loved the atmosphere… the people just made me feel like home. All of the upperclassmen were just so wonderful to me.”
Meanwhile, Kate Ostrowski explains that she chose Hills because “It felt much more like a community… It was more humble. Everyone at Indian Hills is very down to earth. ”
Seeing that both Indian Hills and Ramapo offer a wide range of different academic and extracurricular opportunities for students, there is no one explanation for the shift in enrollment. Both schools provide excellent learning opportunities and school experiences; however, a certain school may appeal to a student more based on their passions, location, or friend and family connections. In the matter of choosing which high school to attend, there is no wrong choice— both schools are known to create a valuable high school experience for staff and students alike.