This story was updated May 15, 2018, at 11:17 p.m. with more information.
The U.S. News & World Report "Best high schools" list is out, and four Hamilton County public schools made it for 2018.
Chattanooga High Center for Creative Arts, Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences, Hamilton County Collegiate High and Lookout Valley Middle/High were on the recently released annual report of the best high schools in the nation.
Area schools on the list
› Chattanooga High Center for Creative Arts
› Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences
› Hamilton County Collegiate High
› Lookout Valley Middle/ High
Chattanooga High Center for Creative Arts earned a silver medal award in the rankings and was the No. 7 school in the state of Tennessee. Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences, Collegiate High and Lookout Valley each received a bronze medal award. Only 11 percent of high schools earn a silver award, and only 16 percent earn bronze.
Chattanooga High Center for Creative Arts was mentioned specifically for the school's impressive student participation and success in Advanced Placement studies in the announcement. The school was recently named a National Magnet School of Excellence. Students have performed with national touring company productions of "Porgy and Bess" and Barry Manilow. Damon Gillespie, a graduate of the school, is one of the stars of the new NBC television show "RISE."
"I am very proud of our staff, students, and all of our families who support our school," Debbie Smith, principal of Chattanooga High Center for Creative Arts, said. "We are the school where arts and academics share center stage!"
Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences follows the principles of the Paideia Proposal, which advocates the same curriculum for all students. The school has a proven record of success with more than 95 percent of its graduates going on to post-secondary education. "We like to say we are changing the world one graduating class at a time," Jim Boles, principal of Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences Upper School, said.
"Our success at CSAS has so much to do with the relationships that are built between our faculty and our incredibly diverse student body," Boles said. "There is a level of trust, a bond, that is not seen in other institutes, and when you couple that with dedicated parents, a population that looks like the real world, and incredibly high expectations, you wind up with a great product that is ready to take on the world after graduation."
Hamilton County Collegiate High at Chattanooga State is listed under its old name of Hamilton County Middle College High on the report, but it is the same program helping young people expedite their educations. Students have the opportunity to earn a high school diploma and an associate's degree at Collegiate High. The 2017 senior class had 35 percent earn a general transfer associate's degree. Even if graduates have not earned an associate's degree by graduation, they will have earned credit hours toward a college major while in high school.
"We are excited to be recognized as one of the U.S. News & World Report's best high schools," Dr. Sonja Rich, principal of Hamilton County Collegiate High at Chattanooga State, said. "Collegiate High is the best because of our students, faculty, parents, and community partners."
Lookout Valley Middle/High requires all seniors to develop a resume and participate in mock job interviews during their senior year. Lookout Valley works with business and community leaders to help the seniors prepare for life after high school. The community knows Lookout Valley as a small school with big opportunities. The school has been recognized for excellence in music and features an after-school jazz band program.
"As educators and schools we don't do what we do to get awards and to be recognized," Rick Rushworth, principal of Lookout Valley, said. "It is nice, however, when someone notices the good things and lifts them up in celebration."
U.S. News & World Report has a four-step process to select schools for the list. The four steps include students exceeding expectations in their states, underserved students performing better than the state average in reading and math, the school's graduation rate exceeding 80 percent and the school preparing graduates for college-level work.
"We know our schools are doing an excellent job for the children of our community, but it is extremely gratifying when a publication of the stature of the U.S. News & World Report recognizes that excellence," Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools, said. "The staff, students, parents, and community can be very proud that these four high schools are among the best in the country."