The School That Changes Lives

Testimonials - 1

Testimonials - 2

Former Vice President Al Gore speaks with members of the SBMS Teen Press at the SB International Film Festival, February 3, 2007.

SBMS will always have a special place in my heart. It was there that I first learned that I could do things I never thought possible: ride 50 miles straight, take the lead role in a play, or script, shoot, and edit a movie. And even more importantly, it was the place where I learned to connect with other people on a level deeper than schoolwork or play. I was a part of something much, much bigger than myself, and discovered that the resulting feeling of responsibility can be not a burden, but a joy."

--Peter Westen (Age 31)

--Stanford: B.S. Symbolic Systems '00 and M.S. Computer Science '01

“Santa Barbara Middle School has positively shaped and affected me more than any other educational experience to date. I believe that the experience that SBMS offers is irreplaceable and crucial during the transition from childhood to young adulthood due to the instillment of important core values that are relied upon as a guide everyday.”

--Thomas Schultheis (Age 25)
--Rites of Passage 1998
--Antioch University: Psychology and Business Management

“Santa Barbara Middle School gave me the foundation to strengthen myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually during the transition years from boy to young adult. This school is a truly magical place and I cannot give a higher recommendation. I will cherish the lessons and experiences for the rest of my life.”

--Reuben Cohen (Age 23)

"My experience at the Santa Barbara Middle School turned out to be crucial to my development. Adolescence is such a sensitive and formative time in life. The gravity of the choice a parent faces for who is allowed to nurture and support their child's growth through this period cannot be understated. These teachers, this philosophy, and these amazing school trips will build your child up and you will see the maturity and growth it inspires every day. Do not let your child and your family pass on this opportunity."

--Jennifer Secord (Age 31)
--UC Santa Barbara: Film

“SBMS gave me the chance to find where I wanted my place in the world. It gave me the understanding to be able to see the world in different perspectives. I found the person I wanted to be at SBMS and took that knowledge to help me throughout the rest of my life. Every day I am thankful for the time I spent there to be able to see beauty in the world I otherwise wouldn't be able to. That’s from the bottom of my heart.”

--Elizabeth Bassin (Age 23)
--UC Davis: Communication

“SBMS, there really are no words that can describe my love for the experience. The friends that I made will be my friends for life, and more importantly, the type of friends you could call up 20 years later and know that whatever you asked of them, they would be there to support you. My girlfriends from SBMS (Day, Aniko, Kate, Julie, Megan) will undoubtedly be bridesmaids in my wedding.

As for the Middle School experience, it was such a joy and relief to go to school in an environment where the catty-ness of middle school (mostly girls) didn't exist like it does in public schools. To be surrounded by lessons about self expression, self reliance, self esteem and respect of others is beyond valuable at that fragile time in one's life development.

The trips bring people together in a way that most are not familiar with, and that bond will forever be shared among those who've shared that experience....I mean why do you think that some of the most important novels ever written have been "journey" tales :) I learned more from the trips than I could have ever learned in a classroom: how to take care of myself, how to depend on others when I needed help, how to interact with the community (ie, random shop owners and others in the communities we were passing through) in a respectful and "adult" manner, how to absorb every last drop of the experience, and to learn as much as I could about the cultures and people we experienced and met along the way. I often think that the independence and communication skills I honed on the trips has truly made me successful in my life--if you stay true to yourself and know how to communicate with others, figuring the rest out is a lot easier :)”

--Allegra Bartlett (Age 28)
--Boston University: BS degree in Communications, with a major in advertising, 2004

“I don't know many people who attend reunions for their junior high schools, but those of us lucky enough to have attended SBMS tend to want to go back again and again--to revisit our teachers, who were and who remain our dear friends; to reconnect with one another as our lives unfold; and to remember the great adventure of discovery that was our time at Middle School. I don't know who I would have been without SBMS, but wow, am I glad I got the chance to be there.

I really believe that the two years I spent as SBMS were some of the most crucial and formative years of my life, and at 30 I continue to think of my time at SBMS as a kind of touchstone--an experience I can reference whenever I need to remember what it means to take on great challenges, to surround myself with supportive community, to make a contribution by being myself, and to grow in the ways I think are most important, and most exciting.”

--Elizabeth Schwyzer (Age 30)
--Rites of Passage 1994
--Arts editor and writer for the Santa Barbara Independent

“I now spend about three months out of every professional year on the road, traveling through Eastern Africa and going to relatively remote, off the beaten path sorts of places to connect with people and talk with them about their lives. That takes some hard core confidence and sense of self on a daily basis. And I think, looking back on my time at SBMS, that is the longstanding stamp and take away. I am super comfortable being who I am, and I think being in such an affirming place like SBMS allowed me to get comfortable in my skin and develop an interest in others."

--Marissa Mika (Age 28)