best schools 2010
Things To Do
For free monthly updates, event invitations and exclusive deals, sign-up for our newsletter!
Best Schools 2010
August, 2010, Page 106
Photo by Brandon Sullivan, styling by Shauna Thibault, Photographed at Peoria High School
Got a tot with a knack for science? A teen who thinks she can dance? Then we have the school for you. Our annual guide to the Valley’s top schools covers all ages and interests, plus testing results to show why they’re at the head of the class.
Arcadia High School, Phoenix
Scottsdale Unified School District
U.S. News and World Report
magazine wisely listed Arcadia High School among the best high schools in the nation in 2008.
This year’s graduating class of 314 students earned more than $7.6 million dollars in merit scholarships, which comes as no surprise given their above-average AIMS test scores. In 2009, 88 percent of Arcadia sophomores passed AIMS reading, compared with 74 percent across Arizona, and 87 percent of sophomores passed math, compared with 70 percent of students statewide.
These impressive scores may have something to do with the 11 advanced placement (AP) classes, 14 honors courses and 15 dual-enrollment classes offered at the school. Dual-enrollment courses let students simultaneously earn high school and college credit to South Mountain and Mesa community colleges, Rio Salado College and Phoenix College. (In one particularly interesting dual-enrollment class, biotechnology, students perform DNA extraction and fingerprinting.)
Arcadia students also can take courses, earn scholarships and receive mentoring at Scottsdale Community College through the Achieving a College Education (ACE) Program. And every school year teachers help students study for the AP calculus exam at a weekend camp in Prescott. The majority of Arcadia students earn a 4 or a 5 (the highest score possible) on the AP calculus test, meaning they can earn a year’s worth of college credit before they even graduate high school.
Other standouts: Alhambra Traditional School, Phoenix; Xavier College Preparatory High School, Phoenix
Clarendon School, Phoenix
Osborn Elementary School District
Imagine trading in your sneakers at the end of the school day for a pair of ballerina slippers, or your pencil for a paintbrush. That’s what it’s like for students at Clarendon School, who have the opportunity to participate in a number of free after-school programs focused on dance, music, technology and more.
Programs include the Technology Club, Read About (reading), ballet, ballet folklorico, Homework Club, Fit Kids (through a partnership with St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center), Science Club, artSpace Hip-Hop Club, Rocket Club, flag football, basketball, soccer, volleyball, Gifter Club (for gifted students), Girl Scouts and violin.
At a campus where families tend to be poorer and about 85 percent of students qualified for free meals last school year, the programs give children a chance to try different activities without burdening their parents’ wallets, and perhaps even find a future career path. (Clarendon ballet dancers have performed in The Nutcracker with professional dancers in Ballet Arizona.)
On average, 73 Clarendon students per day attended the programs last school year, and about 440 came at least one day.
“It’s when their creative sides come out,” says JaNae Teer, 21st Century District director. The federal 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant supports the after-school programs in the Osborn district.
Other standouts: C.I. Waggoner Elementary School, Tempe; Ventana Academy, Cave Creek
Photo by Sam Nalven
Students from Silvestre S. Herrera Elementary School in Phoenix perform in the musical Honk! in April.
Silvestre S. Herrera Elementary School, Phoenix
Phoenix Elementary School District
Visiting Silvestre S. Herrera Elementary School is like stepping into the movie Fame, only with younger students. The campus earned the Mayor’s School of Excellence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Arts Education in 2008.
For at least an hour or two per day, students break-dance while their peers sing hip-hop songs in class. They design sets and make costumes for school plays. They sing, dance and act on stage or play instruments in the pit orchestra for musicals. (The school also provides a standard curriculum of reading, writing, math, science and social studies.)
Kindergartners through third-graders take visual art, drama, music and physical education; fourth- through sixth-graders take those classes and add band and orchestra; and seventh- and eighth-graders choose among guitar, ballroom dance, video acting and music composition for eight electives each year.
“There’s a lot of talent here,” says dance and drama teacher Farrah Dooh. “We give all of our students, from a very early age, an opportunity to create.”
The school is also building a $5.5 million dollar performing arts center, which should be open by next year.
Other standouts: New School for the Arts and Academics, Tempe; Our Lady of Mount Carmel Elementary School, Tempe
Desert Vista High School, Ahwatukee Foothills
Tempe Union High School District
At Desert Vista High School, students get a jump-start on their college education by enrolling in two-for classes – classes that give them both high school and college credit to Arizona State University and two community colleges.
Last year, 792 students – or about one out of every four pupils – took part in dual-enrollment classes.
“ASU professors are constantly telling me it’s just amazing what our kids can do,” says Dan Zavaleta, chairman of Desert Vista’s engineering/technology and Family and Consumer Science department.
U.S. News and World Report
magazine named Desert Vista one of the best high schools nationally in 2008.
Students develop individual, four-year academic plans during their freshman year with counselors. Arizona requires this of all schools, but Desert Vista was doing it long before it became a standard.
As further proof of their academic acumen, this year’s group of 686 graduating students was offered more than $19.49 million in college scholarships. And during the past school year, 30 students had a perfect SAT or PSAT math score.
“I’ll be able to jump right into classes at Stanford,” says 2010 graduate Jared Naimark. “I took seven AP tests; it really proves to a university like Stanford that you’re willing to take the rigorous classes.”
Other standouts: Cactus Shadows High School, Scottsdale; Mountain View High School, Mesa
© 2007 Copyright Phoenix Magazine 15169 N. Scottsdale Road Suite C310 Scottsdale Arizona 85254
Travel & Outdoors
Best of The Valley
Phoenix Home & Garden Magazine
Advertise With Us
Web Site Design