Area high schools rank among Virginia’s best

By Josette Keelor

Two recent awards for school excellence have made Principal Mike Dorman of Stonewall Jackson High School in Quicksburg both surprised and proud.

The school recently ranked in the top 25 percent of the nation’s high schools in a listing by the U.S. News and World Report, and made a list of Virginia’s top 100 public high schools through http://www.niche.com. Central High School in Woodstock also made the niche.com list.

“It’s like wow, you know? But it just makes me very proud of our kids and our staff,” Dorman said.

“We’re a small school and our staff takes a real interest in each kid individually,” he said.

These were the first two awards he knows of the school winning during his six years as principal, but Dorman said both very much recognize the school’s accomplishments.

Stonewall ranked 88th and Central 90th on the niche.com list, which judged schools by the opinions of students and parents who participated in the study.

Stonewall, which had 26 reviews from high school juniors and seniors, received grades of A- in academics; B in student culture and diversity, teachers, extracurriculars and activities, and sports and fitness; B- in resources and facilities and C- in health and safety.

A 12th grade student, quoted on the website, wrote, “All of the teachers I have had really care about you and your grades. They go above and beyond to help you. Even in personal situations they try to help. Most of the teachers know how to teach. They aren’t harsh graders.”

Central, which had 13 reviews from students in 10th-12th grade, earned identical grades to Stonewall, except for a B- in extracurriculars.

One 11th grade student wrote: “This school has been a good home to me, and the teachers truly have shown that they do care for me. It is a small school, where many know each other and have been in the same grade with each other since pre-k. The bonds i have created these past 11 years; i would not trade for anything.”

Both schools scored in the top 29 percent of Virginia’s 312 high schools. The only other area school to make the list was Winchester’s John Handley High School, which came in 71st place.

The U.S. News and World Report list separated schools into gold, silver or bronze ratings based on college readiness. Stonewall earned a bronze rating, placing it among the best 4,707 medal-awarded schools in America, or the top 25 percent. The study included 19,411 public schools and ranked Stonewall in the top 31 percent of the 97 Virginia high schools making the list.

The ratings, though small in comparison to better known or more prestigious national studies, speak to the success of the school division, according to Superintendent Jeremy Raley, who has often asked the community to judge schools on various levels of academic success.

“It’s a tremendous accomplishment,” he said.

View the niche.com study at http://tinyurl.com/mh3u3vs or the U.S. News and World Report study at http://tinyurl.com/km3lqxa.

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com