Local schools climb into top 5 percent

Marie Havenga • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:32 AM

Grand Haven wasn't far behind with a top 5 percent national ranking and top 3 percent state slot.

Fruitport High School did not place, according to the rankings website.

Spring Lake High School Principal Mike Gilchrist said the students' strong showing is a reflection of a learning culture fostered by the school district's K-12 teachers, support staff, parents and community.

“We get a lot of recognition at the high school, but the credit needs to be spread across the board,” Gilchrist said. “Collectively, we make up a wonderful team. ... We can't be lost in the fact that test scores are a byproduct of the culture and environment that the school creates.”

Both Spring Lake and Grand Haven high schools earned silver medal honors. Spring Lake narrowly missed winning the gold — by two slots. Spring Lake ranked as the eighth best school in Michigan out of 826; Grand Haven was 26th.

In national scoring, Spring Lake captured the 524th slot out of 22,000 schools, while Grand Haven came in at 1,124.

The rankings included public, charter and private high schools.

“We are very proud of our students and staff for this accomplishment,” Grand Haven High School Principal Tracy Wilson said. “We know we have a program of excellence, and this recognition proves that.”

Wilson said the students and staff will celebrate with a “banner raising.”

“We need to keep our eyes focused on all the good things happening around us," Wilson added. "It's important to celebrate all of our students' successes.”

The U.S. News rankings are based on the principles that a great high school must serve all of its students well, not just those who are college-bound, and that it must be able to produce measurable academic outcomes to show the school is successfully educating its student body.

This year's results are based on 2009-10 data.

Spring Lake High School senior Alec Fontichiaro said he's proud to have been part of the top 2 percent ranking.

“I'll be graduating in a few days and I'm proud to be a Laker," he said. "They hand out a great education here.”

Spring Lake sophomore Nicole Evans said her former school in Jackson didn't rank nearly as high.

“I think it's really great to be part of a school that is in this percentage,” she said.

This is the fourth edition of the Washington, D.C.-based magazine's “America's Best High Schools.” Grand Haven scored in the top 5 percent nationwide in 2009 — the most recent year for the rankings. Spring Lake was stationed in the top 2 percent from 2007-09, according to Gilchrist.

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