Four area schools honored by US News

The U.S. News and World Report last week released a list of the “Best High Schools in America,” which evaluates schools on overall student performance on state assessments, and performance of minority and economically disadvantaged students. Of the 21,000 public high schools evaluated from 49 states and the District of Columbia, 206 of Michigan’s high schools took gold, silver, or bronze medal rankings.

Alcona, Atlanta, Hillman and Rogers City all ranked in the bronze medal category with higher than average proficiency in math and reading.

Rogers City High School was 61 percent proficient in math and 77 percent proficient in reading, with 340 students enrolled.

Superintendent Katy Xenakis-Makowski said the test is based on the 2010-11 school year’s MME Exam, which looked primarily at reading and math levels in high schools.

“We’re really pleased to have the students and teachers acknowledged for their hard work,” Xenakis-Makowski said. “This demonstrates all the work our staff has done to be successful.”

Xenakis-Makowski also said smaller class size attributes to a greater percentage per student, giving rural community schools that have been working to improve and maintain high scores a higher placement in the rankings.

“Principal O’Bryant and myself are very happy that the students and teachers’ hard work is being recognized,” she said. “It’s a great honor.”

Hillman High School was 61 percent proficient in math and 68 percent proficient in reading, with 244 students enrolled and tested.

High school Principal Michael Leskowich said “hard work pays off.”

“We are definitely proud of the staff and students,” Leskowich said. “It’s nice to be acknowledged on a national level. It’s a great accomplishment for the school.”

Atlanta High School was 35 percent proficient in math and 50 percent proficient in reading, with 305 students enrolled.

Don Haskin, Atlanta superintendent, said he was very excited for the school to win an award it had never won before.

“I’m excited about it,” he said. “It means we have some unique things to offer right here in Atlanta. It was a team effort by the students and the staff to make this happen.”

Alcona High School was 62 percent proficient in math and 67 percent proficient in reading, with 453 students enrolled.

This is the third time in five years Alcona has been ranked in the best High Schools in America, according to Superintendent Shawn Thornton.

“On behalf of the faculty, staff, board, and community, I can say that we’re all very happy about this award,” Thornton said. “I’m very pleased, being a rural district in Northeast Michigan, that we can provide courses to help our students be college ready on this level. We continue, as a school district, to improve the education offerings for our students.”

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.