MHS named among top 500 in U.S.

With more than 98,900 public schools in the United States, Newsweek has named Marion High School as one of the top 500 schools in the country.

The purpose of the rankings, a Newsweek source said, is to identify public high schools in the U.S. that do the best job of preparing students for college and overcoming the obstacles posed by socioeconomic inequality.

Lee Leiker, superintendent of the Marion-Florence School District, said he is excited about the recognition received.

?For me,? he said, ?being recognized nationally as a top school is bigger than winning a state championship.

?I am proud of all the employees for what they have done for students.?

In addition to being ranked 339th in the country with more than 19,000 schools in the running, Leiker said a second list identified the top schools for low income students called ?Beating the Odds.?

MHS came in 131st place, he said.

Tod Gordon, MHS principal, said he, too, was happy to hear the news last week.

?I think the thing that is important is it wasn?t just the high school that did a wonderful job?it was everyone in our district that did a wonderful job,? he said.

Someone said to Gordon that it could have been a third grade teacher, a bus driver or one of the secretaries that made a big difference in a child?s life.

For Gordon it was a win-win situation, factoring in the hardwork done by the students, staff, administrators, teachers and board of education.

Gordon specifically recognized Missy Stubenhofer, MMS principal and curriculum coordinator.

?(Missy) has worked with every teacher in our district,? he said. ?She has also worked with every subject area.

?It?s a lot of teachers doing a lot of work outside the classroom?whether it?s a reading program or math text?they are looking at materials like Common Core.?

Leiker said the district is planning to have some sort of celebration, but nothing is in place yet.

?We have the opportunity to get a banner, and we plan to do a formal presentation in the next three to four weeks,? he said.

?The presentation will be for all of our staff.?

Gordon said for now he is ?just letting it soak in.?

High schools selected on both lists were analyzed based on explicit criteria to include enrollment rate at 25 percent, graduation rate at 20 percent, ACT scoring at 17.5 percent and counselor-to-student ratio at 10 percent.

The other indicator was holding power, which was a change in student enrollment between ninth and 12th grades. This measure was intended to control for student attrition and scored as 10 percent of the total, a Newsweek spokesperson said.

Leiker said Kansas had six schools that made the top 500.

One school was in Lawrence and the other four were Blue Valley schools in Kansas City.

?The Blue Valley schools are in Johnson County,? he said, ?which is one of the wealthiest counties in Kansas.

?Our at-risk population is much greater than any of the other schools (named from Kansas) and all of those are much larger schools.?

MHS has 161 students enrolled.

?These students come to the high school well prepared,? Leiker said, ?so it is the entire school district needing to be recognized.?

Gordon, who has been in the educational system for about 30 years, said this is the first time he has received this type of notification.

Leiker, who also has been an educator for 30 years, said he hasn?t seen a district accomplish this at a national level academically.

?I was familiar with the program before getting this award, but I cannot remember anyone getting this in smaller communities,? he said.

?I have never known a school district that has accomplished this goal.?

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