What started as an area driven by fruit agriculture and nicknamed, “The Valley of the Heart’s Delight,” Cupertino has evolved into a thriving city fueled by education and semiconductor technology. Cupertino is a sprawling, suburban, medium-sized city of over 50,000 residences. Most well known for being the headquarter city for Apple Computer and its strong public schools, Cupertino is in the heart of everything Silicon Valley. Wikipedia has some wonderful facts about Cupertino and their schools. I’ll share a few paragraphs from that and then add my own color following those excerpts.

“Cupertino was the only city with both a population over 50,000 and a median household income in excess of $100,000 in 2000 besides Naperville, Illinois. According to the 2005-2007 American Community Survey, White Americans made up 37.4% of Cupertino’s population. African Americans now made up 1.5% of Cupertino’s population and American Indians made up 0.4% of the city’s population. In addition, Cupertino now has an Asian American majority as this group now represents 55.7% of the city’s population. Pacific Islander Americans remained at 0.1% of the population. Also, 2.5% of the population are from some other race and 2.4% of the population are from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos remained at 4.0% of Cupertino’s population.”

Cupertino is very well known for its high achieving primary and secondary schools.” The Cupertino Union School District is made up of 20 elementary schools and 5 middle schools. Within the elementary schools are alternatives schools that stress a variety of focuses: Mandarin Immersion, core subject academics, balancing core subjects with the arts, and ‘villages’ where children are kept with the same teacher for more than one academic year. It serves over 18,250 students in a richly diverse community representing 48 different languages in a 26-square mile area that includes the city of Cupertino and portions of San Jose, Sunnyvale, Saratoga, Santa Clara, and Los Altos. Faria Elementary School is the number one ranked elementary public school in the state of California, per California API test scores. Kennedy Middle School is the third best in the state. Furthermore, Monta Vista High School is ranked number 23 out of all the public schools in the nation.

Primary (K-8) public schools are organized into the Cupertino Union School District, while the Fremont Union High School District is responsible for high school students. Cupertino High School and its feeder school, Hyde Middle School, are located in the Rancho Rinconada section of Cupertino, while Monta Vista High School and its feeder, Kennedy Middle School, are in the Monta Vista neighborhood in the western half of Cupertino. There is also a new school called Lawson Middle School that feeds mostly Cupertino and Monta Vista High. In addition, Homestead High School is located in the northwestern portion of Cupertino, along the city border with neighboring Sunnyvale. The school system covers Cupertino plus some southern areas of Sunnyvale and Los Altos and some western areas of San Jose.” I emphasize the academics of Cupertino because that is what drives the home prices and demand for people to live in Cupertino. It feels like everything is secondary to that.

If Cupertino has a down side, it is the lack of a downtown area. There is really no place to stroll in a traditional city sense. There are some who say the lack of a downtown keeps the city from really unifying around anything but school scores and iPods. But I find many other compelling aspects of Cupertino. Where there is true beauty in Cupertino is in the foothills. Stevens Creek Dam area and park is phenomenal. With hundreds of acres of open space in which to hike, mountain bike and horseback ride, it is a real joy. Stevens Creek Park has picnic areas, aquatic events such as the Catfish open water swim series and many organized bike rides. De Anza College, is home to many clubs who do their sprint work on the track there. Directly across from De Anza College is Memorial Park which is beautiful with all of its cherry blossoms in bloom in the Springtime and has community tennis courts. If all that activity is not enough for you, adjacent to the northern part of Cupertino is the Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve with over 24 miles of trails and 3,800 acres.

If you have children for whom a rigorous academic environment is paramount and you want a relatively easy commute to most major employment, Cupertino could be a good bet for you.