Below are application processes for some of the PPS magnet schools where Liberty graduates frequently enroll. For a full list, or to apply, visit: https://www.pghschools.org/magnet
Pittsburgh Obama 6-12 is an is an International Baccalaureate school, and they are proud of the fact that all of their students go through the IB program.
Liberty graduates have automatic acceptance to Obama, but only if they list Obama first on their magnet applications.
More than 95% of the school's Class of 2020 continued their education at schools across the country, including Princeton, Morehouse, Tufts, Yale, Pitt, and CMU.
“Nothing in life is so complicated that it cannot be achieved by discipline and hard work.” This is the motto for Obama middle and high school. Obama is an International Baccalaureate World School. This means “connections are made within and across disciplines. Students become aware of the rights and responsibilities of American citizenship, acquire skill in a second language, and develop an appreciation of the common ties among cultures. They meet the challenge of high academic standards through rigorous thinking in all content areas.” (vision statement).
I have 2 children currently at Obama and they are thriving. They are involved in sports, of which Obama offers many. Pantelis Papazekos is the soccer coach. He had 3 children graduate from Liberty and currently has children at Obama. There are dozens of clubs, such as cooking club taught by famous Chef Bill Fuller of the Big Burrito Group. The Obama Steel Band performs at many community events including Liberty Fun Fair and welcoming visitors to the Pittsburgh International Airport. The students also put on a play every year that is spectacular.
The kids are expected to do 10 or 20 hours of community service each year depending on the year. The curriculum is challenging but the students are given lots of support and guidance. One of the volunteer opportunities for students is to tutor other students who need help. I am thrilled that my children are at Obama and would recommend it to all Liberty students.
Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy (more commonly called SciTech) has a middle school and high school with a STEM focus built into the curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Students continue to take classes traditionally outside of STEM, including communications, history, music, art and gym. In 10th grade students select a concentration - Body and Behavior, Computers and Connections, Environment and Energy, and Form and Functions. The concentration helps guide course selection for the upper grades.
SciTech's location in the middle of Oakland allows for walking field trips and connections to the Pitt campus. SciTech has sports and extracurricular activities available in both middle school and high school in partnership with Obama and UPrep.
Application to SciTech is through the Magnet Lottery. Typically there is a waitlist, so if this is your first choice, make sure to list it first. There are no additional requirements to apply. The lottery gives weights to economic status, PSSA scores and school attendance.
Our family transitioned to SciTech after Liberty, and we were a little nervous to leave behind a small(ish) community where teachers and staff have been responsive and supportive through elementary school. We are grateful to have found a similar community at SciTech.
The teachers "loop" in middle school, which means that the 3 teachers in the 6th grade teaching team (Science, Math, Communications/History) will follow the students and remain their teachers in 7th and 8th grade as well. This builds up a supportive team that really knows the kids and doesn't need to start new relationships every year.
The class schedule every day is the same - they have 2 blocks before lunch and 2 blocks after lunch. Wednesday is slightly different because they get out 1 hour early, but still the same blocks. 3 of the blocks are Math, Science and Communications for the first 3 quarters; History replaces communications for the 4th quarter. The 4th block is either gym, art, music or a special that changes each year. The block scheduling gives enough time for them to work on longer projects and focus on each subject.
SciTech does a great job of preparing the middle schoolers to gradually take on more responsibility. They have an equitable grading policy, which allows for retakes as needed, and each teacher has a clear syllabus for individual policies. They have an advisory group once a week after lunch, where they review grades and share those with parents. There are multiple opportunities for them to get extra help if they need it, including during the advisory group. Science fair is a process that takes almost 3 quarters of the year, and they are given steps along the way to guide them to completing the project.
One other unique aspect of SciTech is the activities. Every day after lunch they have 40 minutes of activity. One day that's advisory group, one day that's science fair, but on the other 3 days they get to select an activity that can change every quarter. Some example activities are walking club, anime club, art club, lego building and student government.
The SciTech community has been a great follow up to the space we loved at Liberty.
CAPA 6-12, the Creative and Performing Arts Magnet, is in the heart of Pittsburgh’s Downtown Cultural District. (Brochure here.) The mission of Pittsburgh CAPA 6–12 is to provide every student in grades 6–12 with a comprehensive academic program rooted in a superior quality arts education experience that encourages excellence and success in their personal development as artists and cultural leaders. Students may choose intensive artistic instruction in dance, instrumental music, literary arts, piano, production technology, theatre arts, visual arts, and vocal music.
One of the benefits of being a parent in the Pittsburgh Public Schools district is the abundance of great school options that are available for our children! We all likely remember the process of applying to the lottery at Liberty, and as our kids approach middle school age it is time to start looking for the best fit again as they move into the next grades.
Many parents are intimidated by the application process for CAPA since it does require more than the other magnet programs. It is not a lottery process like Liberty. All children going into CAPA must “audition” in addition to providing the essays that are required of all of the magnet applications. In reality, though, the CAPA application process is doable for any student with the support of their families. Most parents that have gone through the process with their kids also will tell you that it’s a great learning experience for their 5th grader – they have the chance to hone in on their artistic skills as well as get experience “interviewing” with an adult.
The best way to get started is to talk to parents that have been through the process. They are a great resource. CAPA also provides a lot of information on their website. It is a good idea to get started over the summer before 5th grade to think about what your child might want to audition for, and start looking at the previous year’s audition requirements to get ideas. For Visual Arts, Literary Arts, and Production Technology in particular, the portfolio preparation is a extensive, so summertime might be a good time to spend hours working on projects. Throughout the weeks before the auditions, there are Saturday “workshops” where your child can go to the school and work on their audition material with current students and teachers.
Regardless of which art your child is interested in auditioning for, one point that is often misunderstood with prospective parents, is that your child does NOT need to want to do their art for the rest of their lives in order for them to do well at CAPA or even for them to love being there. What I mean is that your child may love to draw, be an accomplished visual artist, but in fact not “want to be an artist when she grows up.” She may want to be an accountant or a doctor or a writer. CAPA provides an excellent academic middle and high-school experience that ultimately will prepare them for college, whether they end up wanting to continue studying their art or not. CAPA offers AP-level courses starting in high-school as do all of the other Pittsburgh Public Schools.