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Reaction to Top High Schools in Central Massachusetts 2013

Saturday, June 01, 2013


Following on the heels of yesterday's announcement of how Central MA high schools stacked up against each other in GoLocal's 2013 Top Central MA High Schools rankings, GoLocal spoke with five of the top ten schools to get their reactions -- as well as some insight into what they saw as the secrets of their success.

#1 Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science -- Worcester

The Mass Academy took top honors in 2013 Central MA rankings, and ranked 7th overall in the state.  Founded in 1992 by the State Legislature as a public school to serve academically advanced youth in grades eleven and twelve in math, science, and technology, the public, co-educational school enrolls about 100 11th and and 12th graders, emphasizing math and science.  Seniors complete a full year of college, enrolling in classes at WPI.
Michael Barney has been the Director of Mass Academy since July of 2011. Previously, Mr. Barney was Principal of Lunenburg High School for 11 years. He is certified as a trainer in the “Breaking Ranks” model of High School Reform and has presented seminars at the MSSAA Summer Institute on innovative scheduling models and strategies on high school reform.

"We're proud of our kids. We like to give credit to the "sending schools", of course, because when they come to us as juniors, they're well prepared," said Barney.  "We do a teacher appreciation day every year where the students can bring a teacher from any point in their education, and there's never a dry eye in the room. The students know it's important to never forget the people who got them to where they are."

"Due to our small class size, we don't rank our students," said Barney. "One recent graduating student said she learned as much from her peers as she did in the classroom, and that's a testament to our student body, and learning environment, with the WPI connection."

Barney pointed to one of the school's most recent accolades as a testament to its success.  "We just learned that one of our graduating seniors, Anish Athalye of Shrewsbury, was named a Presidential Scholar, of which there are 141 total in the country. I think that's a great testament to Anish, and the Academy."

#3 The Bromfield School -- Harvard

The Bromfield School, located in Harvard, ranked 3rd in Central Mass rankings, and 26th in the state overall.  Founded in 1878 by Margaret Bromfield Blanchard, the school currently has a student population of 710 in grades 6-12.
"We have outstanding students, dedicated faculty, and both have a fantastic work ethic and dedication," said Principal James O'Shea, who prior to coming to The Bromfield School in 2006 was Principal at North Middlesex High School.  "We see that the preparation correlates with success in college for our graduates, and in life."
"We appreciate the work ethic of our students," said O'Shea.  According to the school's webite, over 90% of graduates go on to attend a four year college.

#5 Hopkinton High School -- Hopkinton

Ranked # 5 in Central MA. and #36 statewide, interim Principal Evan Bishop said that the 1100+ student body, coupled with great staff and community support, were the keys to its success. 

"From launching a 1 to 1 laptop initiative, to hosting exchange students through an F1 program, we're advancing technology, we're supporting diversity here," said Bishop. "We have an awesome arts and music program, in addition to our athletics, which recently won the Division III "Dalton Award", which is given to the school with the highest winning percentage across all sports."

"We just have a fantastic school culture," said Bishop.  "It's great when you can say kids want to come to school here. We're certainly honored to recognized as a Top High School. "

#6 Algonquin Regional High School -- Northborough

Algonquin Principal Thomas Mead cites the well-rounded offerings of academics and extracurriculars as contributing to the student experience -- and in part the reason Algonquin was ranked #6 in Top Central MA high schools, and #42 in the state overall. 
Mead, who became Principal in 2009 after serving as Assistant Principal at Andover High School, said the large number of choices available to students to pursue their interests was a major component of its success.
"We have over 50 clubs at school. Our music program is one of the best in the state, and our robotics team just competed in St. Louis, after winning the prestigious Chairman's Award at regional competition," said Mead. 
"In addition to our rigorous academics, the extracurriculars really enhance the educational experience. We encourage the kids to form and join clubs, in order to explore their interests right here on campus."

#7 Tahanto Regional High School -- Boylston

Berlin-Boylston Public Schools Superintendent Nadine Ekstrom pointed to a number of reasons for the school's top ranking as #7 in Central MA, and #49 overall. 

"There is a lot of parental support, and an expectation that our kids will continue their education past high school," said Ekstrom.

"We just moved into a brand-new school, where there are smart boards and e-mail boards in every classroom," continued Ekstrom.  "I give a lot of credit to our Principal, Diane Tucceri, for stewarding the process and being the dynamic leader that she is." 

"The school continually acknowledges students' successes throughout the year.  The teachers focus on inter-disciplinary, project-based discovery work, with a real-world connection." 

Ekstrom, who has personally met with every member of the senior class, said she was told by one Tahanto student, "It's not just an educational environment, but a one that's community and family."  

Massachusetts' Top Ranked High School for 2013 Weighs in on Ranking

#1 Overall -- Weston High School

Weston Principal Anthony Parker, who had previously been at Newton North High School as Housemaster, and prior at Newton South High School where he taught history, is presently enrolled in the Doctor of Educational Administration program at the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. 

On receiving the number one Top Massachusetts High School 2013 distinction, Parker said, "We have an incredibly active PTO and community support, who really put their money where their mouth is. There is the opportunity for students to have access to different people, speakers, experiences, trip abroad programs."

"Ground zero really though is the classroom, said Parker. "Teachers are constantly writing grants to augment their teaching abilities, from looking to obtain support equipment, to finding unique ways to advance the curriculum."

Parker noted he made it a point to be particularly responsive and accessible to parents, hosting roughly 4-5 "open house" coffees for parents to come in and talk with him and each other, to ask questions -- and Parker says they're usually quick to offer their support.




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