Below are profiles featuring the top 18 high schools in the Minneapolis Metropolitan Area. In order to be featured as a Top High School, the school must have a 2010 Education.com TestRating of 10 out of 10. The TestRating compares a school's standardized test scores for a given year with scores from other schools in the same state. Find your school and see how it compares.
Centennial Public School District
Centennial Senior provides students with a wide variety of opportunities from champion sports teams to challenging academic programs. In the past decade the population at the school has doubled due to growth in the area, causing the school to have two separate buildings in different locations.
With a four-period block schedule and 85 minute classes, students have the opportunity to focus more on their courses. Over 80 electives are offered, which allows students to pursue unique interests in subjects such as woodworking and video production. The school offers a full-range of athletic programs and boasts recent success in girl’s basketball and wrestling.
The Centennial Honors Program offers Post Secondary Education Option (PSEO), AP courses, honors courses, and College in the Schools (CIS). Students can also take college courses through the University of MN and Anoka Ramsey Community College. After graduation, 75 to 85 percent of the students head to a post-secondary school.
The school's philosophy is: "Centennial High School will foster successful learners in an ever-changing world."
Delano Public School District
At Delano High School, academics take top priority and the staff works to make sure that both students who are struggling and those needing an additional challenge succeed on campus.
Through the School-Within-A-School program, students who are at risk for not graduating attend a one-room schoolhouse-type classroom, which helps them focus on academics, community service, and part-time work.
The College in the Schools program allows top performing students to earn up to 36 college credits through a partnership with three area universities without having to leave the high school campus. Another option for college work is available through online college courses at four year institutions, technical colleges, and two-year colleges. Delano High School also offers Advanced Placement Biology and American History for 10th through 12th graders, and the on-campus career center gives students a place to learn about careers, post-secondary options, and meet with college representatives.
The small class sizes at Delano provides students with focused attention from teachers and the block scheduling of classes also allows for more in-depth studies. “We have created a culture of accountability and we take responsibility for every single one of our students,” said Schoen. “Our students also support each other and hold each other accountable.”
Eden Prairie Public School District
With a focus on academic excellence and school spirit, Eden Prairie provides many opportunities to explore interests in the classroom, after school, and on the sports fields.
Block scheduling allows for additional electives, such as architecture, jewelry making, and world drumming. Students who enjoy the outdoors can also take classes in camping, canoeing and climbing. In addition to having championship winning athletic teams, intramural sports are very popular and often draw large crowds.
Students can choose from a wide variety of traditional and specialty clubs, such as the German club, service club, Japanese animation and Break Dancing club. In addition to helping students make the most of their high school years, the school helps prepare students for their next step by offering internships and opportunities to work with the local Chamber of Commerce.
Nancy Lagermeier, PTO president at Eden Prairie, said that the school has a high-level of parent involvement and that during recent budget cutbacks, many parents volunteered to staff resource rooms. “There is a pervasive culture of acceptance – all kinds of kids are in the school community and for the most part everyone can feel accepted.”
Edina Public School District
School spirit is high at Edina Senior High School, where over 90 percent of the students participate in a sports team or club. The school's athletic program has recently been selected by Sports Illustrated one of the top programs in the country and has over 140 state championships.
The Edina Senior High School offers a college preparatory curriculum and students can select from many honors and AP level courses. In addition, the school offers eight different languages, including Japanese, Chinese, American Sign Language, and a French Immersion program.
A wide variety of extracurricular activities are available, such as the Debate team, several foreign language clubs, and award-winning publications. Students can also participate in one of the 15 clubs that are part of the Youth Serving Youth program, which helps build student leadership through community service and social issue awareness.
The music program has a wide variety of bands, choruses and ensembles to choose from and has received state and national recognition, including being selected as a GRAMMY Signature school for several years.
Principal Bruce Locklear writes on the school website, “We want to provide an environment where students are excited to be and, more importantly, feel as though they belong to a larger community.”
Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District
While Eagan High School boasts high test schools, the administration stresses to the students that the arts and athletics are also important. The school's rigorous curriculum is includes 14 AP courses, College in the Schools, and college courses taught on campus. To make sure that each student feels like a part of the large school, each student meets daily with homeroom teacher.
Over 48 activities are offered including Mock Trial, Science Olympiad and choral programs. The Speech and Debate team is often competing at the national level and has won many honors. The Forensics program has also received national recognition and is known for being one of the best in the nation.
Athletic teams are competitive at the state level and there are many sport available to students. The school is especially proud of their drama program and was recently one of the first high schools to perform the musical “Hairspray.” Many Eagan High School students have gone on to study musical theater in college or professionally.
“We focus on the three A’s to our students – arts, academics and athletics, and we do all three really well,” said Principal Polly Reikowski.
Bloomington Public School District
Jefferson High School provides its students with many leadership opportunities and empower them to make a difference on campus. Each spring, students attend a retreat to help set the priorities for the next school year, and have led the efforts to remodel parts of the building. The students have even created a Cyber Café in the Media Center, which provides a place in which students can access the Internet and collaborate with teachers and other students on projects.
Students can participate in over 200 unique different clubs, such as the chocolate eating club, and those who do not find a group can start their own. Musically-inclined students can participate in the award-winning programs like choir, orchestra and band, and showcase their talents at the widely attended Christmas concert for the community. Athletics also play a big part in the school and many teams often compete on the state level.
Principal Chad Duwenhoegger encourages any parent interested in the school to contact him directly with questions and to come visit the school. “Our students play a large part in making Jefferson Senior High School the great school that it is,” said Duwenhoegger.
Lakeville Public School District
Lakeville North High School students benefit from experienced teachers, state of the art technology and personalized attention from the staff.
The teachers at Lakeville are highly educated. Over 55 percent hold advanced degrees and over 60 percent have taught for more than 10 years. To ensure consistency contact between students, parents and the school, each student is assigned to a dean, who they go to for career assistance, discipline issues, and counseling.
Students have access to the latest technology with a fiber optic network and wireless Internet installed throughout the school. The school has a full rooster of athletic teams and has recently won state championships in competitive cheerleading, girl’s basketball, and girl’s volleyball.
The school's philosophy is detailed on their website: “Lakeville High School North is committed to creating a community that instills integrity and challenges students to reach their maximum individual potential.”
Lakeville Public School District
Lakeville South High provides a college-preparatory experience for students in the constantly growing town of Lakeville. Students can select from a wide-variety of AP courses and honor level classes, and multiple electives are available for students to pursue other areas of interest, such as business and consumer science.
The school's facilities are well-designed and include an athletic and fitness center with top of the line equipment. Technology is integrated throughout the facility and is used during classroom instruction whenever possible. The school has a thorough career center and colleges often visit the school to meet with prospective students.
Students can choose from a full array of extracurricular activities, including Science Olympiad and Anime, which is a Japanese form of animation. The performing arts program features various drama programs, a band, and choir. The school also has an active National Honor Society for students with a GPA over 3.7.
The school has a history of winning athletic state championships, including a recent championship by the boy’s basketball team and girl’s downhill skiing. The wrestling program has also produced many state championships. An intramural basketball league provides students with an opportunity for less competitive play.
The school's mission is to, “foster well-rounded, lifelong learners who will contribute meaningfully to a diverse global society.”
Mahtomedi Public School District
College-preparation is the main focus at Mahtomedi High School, where 96 percent of the students head to college after graduation. Through 17 different AP course offerings and college credits available through the College in the Schools program, students have many opportunities to graduate with college credits already under their belt.
The school has an engineering focus and all students take a Principal of Engineering course during their stay at Mahtomedi. The school also works with local business, including 3M, and students use innovative engineering technology to learn design, robotics and animation.
Athletics are an important part of school culture, but students whose interests lay off the playing field can find opportunities in other clubs, such as the state-ranked debate team. The school's spirit club is also popular, and many students who don't play sports are members.
Mahtomedi high closely watches their students by tracking data for grades, attendance and behavior. “When we notice there is a change in any of these areas, we immediately intervene to find out what is going on,” said Principal Kathe Nickleby. “Being able to track the data has been made a significant difference in being able to help individual students.”
Osseo Public School District
While Maple Grove Senior High School is a large school, the students, teachers, and staff view themselves as part of a the “Crimson Family.” The students helped develop the core values for the school, the Crimson Way, which is used to guide the school. Maple Grove Senior High School is a three year high school and offers 10th, 12th and 11th grades.
Students can select from over 200 different courses and are offered many AP and honors-level classes. The College in the Schools program and dual enrollment allows students to graduate with college credits, while the advisory program, Foundations, helps prepare students for life after high school. The teachers provide students with a varied curriculum that enables them to participate in the community.
Over 100 different extracurricular activities are offered and students can choose from many athletic teams. The fine arts program is a source pride and has won many recent awards.
“Every student and staff member is respected, valued and is an important contributor to the well-being of the family,” said Principal Sara Vernig.
Math & Science Academy School District
The Math & Science Academy, whose mascot is the “Fighting Calculator,” provides driven students with opportunities to study high level science and math. The school, which has sixth through 12th grades, is a public charter school and admission is through lottery, although it often has a waiting list.
To graduate from the academy, each student must complete math courses through calculus and take high-level science courses including biology, chemistry and physics. The school has high ACT scores, an almost perfect graduation rate, and over 90 percent of students go to college.
The school is not all academically focused, however, and students are encouraged to participate in sports, activities and clubs. The school offers MSHL level baseball and cross-country in addition to club level sports, such as basketball. Performing arts help nurture the students' artistic sides through a theater program, orchestra and jazz band. Other popular clubs include the National Honor Society, Student Council, and Academic Triathlon.
“An activity with which we take a great deal of pride in is our robotics team,” said Paul Simone , principal of the Math & Science Academy. “The Robotics team is competitive on a state level and provides hands on experience for students.”
Minnetonka Public School District
Minnetonka Senior High School emphasizes a combination of rigorous academic instruction, leadership, and service.
An innovative health program, In Better Health, provides each student with four years of health education. Students can enroll in the International Studies program to connect with a student partner through technology at a school in another country, including Russia, the Netherlands, and Chile. Many of the students get a chance to meet their partners either by visiting their country or hosting the student in Minnesota.
Both students who are struggling with writing and those who are passionate about the subject benefit from the formal writing center on campus. Each classroom is equipped with the latest technology, and the school boasts top-notch athletic facilities, including a domed football field and an AstroTurf baseball field. If sports aren't your thing, there are over 100 clubs and activities available, including DECA, a knitting club and The Duct Tape Club.
“We pride ourselves on being a big school that seems like a small school. At Minnetonka, students are respected and teachers take the time to get to know their students,” said Principal Dave Adney.
Mounds View Public School District
At Mounds View Senior High School's athletic events and school programs, it is common to see alumnae and community members sitting in the stands. The school pride is evident from the strong parent support, community involvement and student participation in school activities.
Academics are top priority and high performing students can earn college credit through many AP courses, the College in the Schools program, and the Minnesota Post-Secondary Enrollment Option program. All juniors are provided ACT preparation at Mounds View, where students are driven to succeed and the majority go to a post secondary school after earning their diploma.
The school encourages students to participate in the many extracurricular activities. Many academic teams, such as the Science Olympiad, Math Team and Speech program have been recognized nationally.
The school’s music programs, including the orchestra, choir and marching band, have excellent reputations in the community. The annual holiday concert was recently expanded to two performances due to community demand.
“We have an array of offerings at the school and have something for just about everyone. We encourage excellence in the classroom as well as strong participation in activities,” said principal Julie Wikelius.
Orono Public School District
While students often describe the academics at Orono Senior High School as “rigorous,” the school also provides time for students to have fun and explore their interests.
Thanks to strong teacher commitments to extracurricular activities, students have many groups and clubs to choose from, including the popular band. In addition to traditional courses, such as engineering, journalism and business, students can also take anthropology, historical perspective and world language courses. Students gain real-world experience through the stock market game and debate clubs, and there are many opportunities to earn college credits through AP courses and college classes.
Since Orono Senior High is a smaller than others in the area, students have the opportunity for plenty of personal attention from teachers. Teaching students to be leaders is a priority and students have the opportunity to plan many campus events, such as Winter Feast, theater productions and the blood drive.
“I think Orono High School is one of the best because of our students,” said Principal Benson. “You can’t have a great school without great students. They recognize and take advantage of their opportunities.”
St. Anthony-New Brighton Schools School District
With a student body of around 500 students, St. Anthony Village Senior High School has a close-knit community where teachers are able to get to know their students. Students can select from over 37 AP courses and many additional honors level courses are offered.
While the school partners with another area high school for some sports, the school offers a number of teams and the baseball team has won recent state championships. The academic teams are very competitive as well -- The Knowledge Bowl team has won a number of championships and the Science Bowl team also performs at a high level. The Robotics Club is popular and is very competitive in regional and national competitions.
The performing art programs, such as music and drama, receive high marks from parents. Students can also choose from a list of activities such as the Speech team, Mock Trial, and National Honor Society.
Stillwater Area Public School District
Instead of learning simply from textbooks, teachers at Stillwater Senior High School provide students with relevant learning experiences. Throughout the day, students participate in activities at the environmental learning center, such as working with Peregrine Falcons, building an igloo, or working with wildlife.
Students can choose from 24 different clubs and 34 varsity level sports. The athletic teams have had great success and have brought home over 55 state championships over the years in various sports. The music program includes nationally renowned bands and orchestra.
Stillwater focuses both on students who are heading to college after graduation and those who are going to pursue a technical or vocational career. College-bound students can selected from a variety of honors and AP classes. Other students can take technical classes that offer real world experience and training through internships and partnerships with the community.
“What sets our school apart is the quality of our teachers and the academic experiences that we provide. I think that we have really good kids at our school and they perform at a high level,” said Principal Dr. Ryan Laager.
Wayzata Public School District
Although Wayzata High School is a large high school, the staff prides itself on helping each student find their own place. Through 27 different AP courses, the school has created an impressive academic environment that produced 36 National Merit Scholars in 2010. To help maintain high test scores and prepare students for further schooling, each student is required to take four years of math and four years of science for graduation.
Principal Mike Trewick said that students who excel in a specific academic or athletic area are able to compete at the highest level. Athletics are an important part of Wayzata High School and many teams, including football, hockey and girls soccer, have competed for top state honors in recent years.
Trewick said that for being such a large school, it has very few discipline issues and the students, staff and teachers keep the school running like a small city.
“We have great kids, great community support, and family support. That’s what makes for a wonderful atmosphere at Wayzata High School,” said Principal Mike Trewick.
South Washington County School District
While the students produce high test scores, the administration at Woodbury Senior High School works to instill balance in the students. To balance the high level of academics, students can participate in many after school programs. The performing art programs, such as the marching band, performance band, orchestra, choir and theater are all popular. Athletics are a source of pride for the school and the school has taken home many state championships.
On the academic side, many students enroll in AP courses and each spring the school administers over 1000 AP exams. Through College in the Schools and reciprocal arrangements with local colleges, students can earn college credit. The AVID program (Advancement through Individual Determination) helps students in need with study skills and college readiness. Over 94 percent of the students head to college after graduation, and the school is working to raise the number to 100 percent.
The teaching staff at Woodbury is dedicated to the school and recently had two finalists in the state Teacher of the Year competition. Technology is integrated throughout the classrooms and used during instruction whenever possible. The school is a Project Lead the Way school, which puts an emphasis on STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math). The school has a Robotics team and also offers robotic classes.
“We stress athletics, arts and academics, but not in that order. All are on the same plane at our school,” Principal Linda Plante.
Please note that only schools in the following Minnesota Counties were considered for this article: Anoka, Carver, Chisago, Dakota, Hennepin, Isanti, Pierce, Ramsey, Scott, Sherburne, St. Croix, Washington, and Wright.