Local High Schools Among the Best in the Nation

ORLEANS COUNTY - U.S. News and World Report has named two local high schools as the best in the nation. Lake Region Union High School received a Silver Medal Award and North Country Union High School received a Bronze Medal Award.This is the first time Lake Region received the award and the second for North Country. As far as state ranking is concerned, Lake Region scored as number seven and North Country scored 13. Stowe High School scored number one in the state and received a Gold Medal Award.U.S. News and World Report posted the announcement on its website last month. “The Best High Schools project identifies the country’s top-performing public high schools,” states an informational sheet from usnews.com. “The goal is to provide a clear, unbiased picture of how well public schools serve all of their students – from the highest achieving to lowest achieving – in preparing them to demonstrate proficiency in basic skills as well as readiness for college-level work.”U.S. News and World Report used data from the U.S. Department of Education, College Board, International Baccalaureate and statewide accountability proficiency test results. It looked at 1) Performance levels that exceeded statistical expectations given the school’s relative level of student poverty, 2) Proficiency rates on state tests, and 3) Preparation of its students for college, as measured by Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams. Schools that received gold or silver medals met or exceeded all three criteria when compared to other schools in their state. Bronze medal schools exceeded in two of the three levels.The award measures how well schools are helping all students be successful, which is the key, said North Country Principal Bill Rivard.“When I looked at the criteria, I felt really good,” said Lake Region Principal Andre Messier. “I felt this is a very comprehensive look at what a school does.” Messier looks at the award as a validation of the work the entire supervisory union does. He said students are achieving the high standards set forth by the school.The award is based on merit, Orleans Central Superintendent Stephen Urgenson said.“It’s important that the teachers, the board and students receive recognition,” Urgenson said. “They have a great board of education. We have terrific kids and we have as good teachers as they have anywhere.“Every once in a while people are recognized for what they achieve,” Urgenson said. “It’s always heartwarming to see our people recognized for the achievements that they’ve made academically as well as in other areas. This is a very caring school and a very caring community. We love our children and want to do everything for them.”Rivard, who echoed the sentiment, said students who are successful in high school are successful in life. Urgenson pointed out that Lake Region, at 58.7 percent, is the first high school in the state for students who receive free or reduce lunches. Messier said Lake Region would purchase a banner announcing the achievement. North Country Principal Bill Rivard said his school would purchase a plaque that will be hung next to the 2010 award.