Below are profiles featuring the top 40 high schools in the Chicago 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.
Adlai E Stevenson HSD 125
Although Adlai E Stevenson High School has over 4200 students on campus, the school works to provide opportunities for each student to develop relationships and find their niche.
The school takes pride in its AP program, which offers 28 different courses, and 80 percent of the students take at least one AP course. However, it’s not all academics on campus. The performing and fine arts departments have reputations for being one of the best programs in the nation.
To help freshmen acclimate to high school, all ninth grade students meet four days a week in small groups with an adult as part of the Freshmen Mentor program. Each student is randomly assigned to one of three “houses” for their entire high school career. Student support teams in each “house” meet weekly to ensure that the school intervenes quickly when a student is having an issue, either academically or socially.
Community service is a focus at the school, which has recently been recognized nationally for their efforts in serving others. Students engage in a variety of projects from an annual Give-A-Thon to providing holiday gifts for needy families, collecting baby items for expecting mothers, and a food drive that bring in enough food to fill the local food pantry for six months.
Chicago Unified School District 220
Students at Barrington High School don’t need a hall pass to go the restroom or go back to their locker on campus. The administration treats students like young adults and gives them many opportunities to show responsibility. The school focuses on giving back to the community through ongoing efforts, like the annual student-run fundraising campaign that raised over 15K for a local charity.
On Friday nights in the fall, the surrounding community shows up in spades to support the team, watch the band, meet up with friends, and enjoy a pork chop sandwich. The athletic teams have a winning reputation and there is expectation of new state and regional trophies in the trophy case each year.
The popular AP program offers many courses and garners high participation. The foreign language department is strong, and even Chinese courses are offered. The school offers a wide range of electives including Jewelry Making, British Writers, Living Law, and 21st Century Issues. The visual arts program has the reputation as being one of the top arts programs in Illinois, and the performing arts program also has an excellent programs.
“One of the best things about our school it is that students live up to the responsibility that we give them and they create a great culture for learning.” said Stephen A McWilliams, Principal.
Batavia Unified School District 101
Homecoming at Batavia Senior High School isn't’t just a school event - it's one where the whole town turns out to watch the parade, and businesses even decorate their storefronts to celebrate. The community support continues throughout the year after Homecoming. Many of the graduates live in the community and many of teachers are graduates themselves. The school recently added a new field house and is currently building a large 875 seat auditorium on campus.
The administration focuses on being responsive to the students' needs and asks graduates for their thoughts on additional programs for the school. Based on student feedback, the school has grown from 4 AP courses to 15 AP courses in the past three years.
Many students participate in the school's popular drama and music programs. Even though plays are held in a cafeteria, every musical sells out multiple shows with the community and students showing up to watch. Over 2/3 of the students play a sport on campus and many teams are competitive.
“Our culture is that we are receptive to feedback and we listen and make changes,” said Lisa Hichens, Principal. “It’s not one program that makes us successful but the fact that we are truly a comprehensive high school.”
Township High School District 214
Buffalo Grove High School provides a comprehensive education for students with plenty of avenues for kids to pursue their passions. With over 2100 students on campus, the vast majority (94 percent) are college bound after graduation. Students can earn college credit by taking one of 21 different AP courses.
Many sports teams wear the Buffalo Grove Logo and the school has had recent success in Volleyball. Fine Arts are important on campus and win their share of awards as well. Another popular performing arts program is Orchesis, a dance team that is often invited to perform at events. A host of clubs and activities are also available on campus.
Principal Carol Burlinski writes on the school website “ Buffalo Grove is committed to preparing our students for the 21st century with not only the skills essential for productive work, but ensuring that our students are college ready and citizenship ready. Our mission is to connect students to college success and provide opportunity and access for all students. We believe we have the staff, programs, and community to maximize learning for all students within our school.”
Chicago High School District 99c
Community High School Dist 99 - North High School provides a balanced education through top academics, athletics, and the arts. Parents are active on campus and can find many ways to support the school. The Parents club provides overall support while there are booster clubs for the athletic department and the band.
The school offers a variety of AP and honors classes, enabling students to challenge themselves. Students can get a jump start on career skills through Career and Technical courses such as Business, Computer Technology, Cooperative Career Education, Family and Consumer Science and Industrial Technology. Students in these programs also have opportunities for internships and real world experiences.
Students are also successful outside of the classroom – the Cheerleading squad, Imani Steppers, Athenas, and Winter Guard all recently competed on the state level. Academic teams also took awards, including the Speech team, Math team, and DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America). Many students were also recognized individually at art contents.
Athletes are an important part of school culture, and there are over 1,000 student athletes on campus. Teams are often competitive on both a regional and state level, including recent successes by the badminton and swim teams.
High School District 113
Students and parents often comment that Deerfield High School feels like a family and that the campus is a like a second home to them. The school works to meet students where they are academically and challenge them to do their best. Students looking for a challenging can enroll in AP courses, which are offered in a wide range of subjects, while students who need assistance can find extra help in the Counseling and Special Education Department.
The Freshmen Advisory course helps freshmen transition to high school and selected seniors gain leadership experience through mentoring. To make sure that students don’t fall through the cracks, each student stays with the same homeroom class for their entire high school career. The school keeps class size to 18-20 students, which encourages personal interaction and relationship building.
Many students are involved in multiple clubs, sports, or programs. The school offers band, orchestra, and choir in addition to many varsity sports teams.
“The community of Deerfield is highly supportive of education. The high school is the “crown jewel” because of its academic excellence and its capacity to unify the community,” said Sue Hebson, District 113 Assistant Superintendent.
Geneva Chicago Unified School District 304
During recent grade testing at Geneva Community High School, only three students were absent. This is just one example of how seriously the students and parents take education and support the school. Community support is a cornerstone at Geneva, where football games are community events and large crowds coming out for all school functions. The school works with the local elementary and middle schools to provide a cohesive education from the first day of kindergarten to the last day of their senior year.
The school has high-level classes to challenge top performing students and focused support for kids who need some extra help. The school makes sure to adapts to its students' needs. For example, the faculty provided extended Algebra and Geometry courses so that students can still take the high level math courses but at a pace that allows them to be successful.
Students often earn recognition outside of the classroom with winning athletic teams and academic teams, such as the Math Team and Scholastic Bowl Team. The music programs, which include the band, choir and orchestra, have reputations for excellence.
“We are a community high school. It’s that community cohesiveness and support that has made us a successful school,” said Thomas Rogers.
High School District 87
As a small school serving several unincorporated towns, Glenbard South High School serves as a community hub and is a point of pride for the area. The school benefits from strong parental support through very active booster clubs for all areas that donated both financially and volunteer hours. Local organizations, such as Kiwanis and Rotary, work with the school on many projects to help create community partnerships.
In addition to being a comprehensive high school, the school is the home for the Guided Program for the district's cognitively disabled and autistic students. Through the Best Buddies Program, the most popular student club on campus, students work with those in the Guide program through weekly activities and special events, such as fashion shows.
A host of athletic teams are available for students to play on and the school is known for success in their Cross Country program. The music and choir program is also popular and attracts about 15 percent of the students. Service organizations, such as the active Key Club, are very prevalent on campus as well.
“Our parents are very strongly invested in the school. We have phenomenal parent support and they partner very well with us,” said Terri Hanrahan, Principal.
Glenbard Township High School District 87
The staff at Glenbard West High School is passionate about teaching and creating a safe environment in which students can explore and debate. The school has high expectations for students and clearly defines them in “The West Way,” a guide outlining expected behavior. The staff also provides positive reinforcement and recognition for their accomplishments.
When a student steps onto campus as a freshmen, the staff encourages them to find at least one activity to become involved in. The school offers 55 clubs and 27 different sports, so students have no shortage of choices. Students can choose from interest clubs, such as Anime, Foods Club, and Political Science or Service Clubs, including Key Club. Performing arts are also active on campus and include a wide variety of music, art and drama programs.
The parents and community provide support for all areas of the school and have raised nearly a million dollars for the school in the past decade. The school gives back to the parents and community through the monthly Glenbard Parent Series, where experts on various topics are brought to the school.
“Hopefully, the staff at West gives our students a sense not only of who we are, but more importantly, of who they are, and who they wish to become by imagining their legacy. We also guide, encourage, laugh, and we celebrate,” said Dr. Jane Thorsen.
Northfield Township High School District 225
Glenbrook North High School provides students with extensive program offerings. Parents are active on campus with organizations that support a variety of programs, including athletics and performing arts. Over 83 percent of the faculty holds advanced degrees and over 96 percent of students head to college after graduation day. The school uses an alternating day block schedule with four 90 minute courses each day.
While the school building was built in 1953, the school has been renovated through the years to include a performing arts center and learning space that integrates technology with collaborative learning. The foreign language program offers a wide range of languages, including Latin, Hebrew, German, Mandarin, and Russian.
Twenty-four AP courses are available and 92 percent of the students pass the exam. Over 70 clubs are available on campus, including community service performing arts and intramural sports.
Students can apply to be a part of the four-year the Glenbrook Academy of International Studies, which integrates learning through core academic areas. Another special program available on campus is the Advanced Honors Research Program, which allows selected upperclassmen to complete an extensive research project.
If you walk into Glenbrook South High School, you may notice students holding doors for adults and showing respect for other students. 26 different languages are spoken at the school, making the student body very diverse. The school gives back to the community through an annual telethon that raised over $106,000 in a recent year to help local kids with social and emotional needs.
The school makes an extra effort to keep each student in school and engaged, and less than five students drop out each year. Through the Evening High School program, students whose needs are not being met by the traditional high school experience can complete their education and graduate with a diploma.
The school's popular music program was designated as a Grammy Aware Signature school in a recent year, while the speech and debate program has recently earned the National Championship and is consistently competitive at the state level. The unique Horticulture program has a reputation for excellence also and has won the state title 19 different times.
“This is a place that really draws kids in and allows them to be part of things that are special. Because they know that they are valued, they work hard to make this a better school,” said Brian Wegley, Principal.
Highland Park High School, which recently celebrated its 121st graduation ceremony, takes pride in the long history of excellence at the school. Teachers focus on building relationships with their students and the school community works as a partnership to solve issues. The students also benefit from the diverse student body and learning from each other.
The various arts programs at the school have a reputation for excellence, and every other year the school hosts a multi-day festival in partnership with community with events and workshops in the areas of art, music, theater, dance, and writing. The drama department also performs several productions each year for both the school and community.
Students are very involved in the school's array of clubs, such as Cooking Club, Philosophy Club, and Italian Dance Club. Academic teams and clubs, including Chess Club, Mock Trial, Model UN, and Math Team are also popular.
“Highland Park maintains its legacy of excellence and the community takes great pride in their high school,” said Sue Hebson, District 113 Assistant Superintendent. “Students are invested in clubs and activities as well as sports and see this as an important extension of their school day. They have many opportunities to learn about themselves, leadership, goal setting, and collaborative problem-solving through these activities.”
Hinsdale Township High School District 86
If you drive around the neighborhoods near Hinsdale Central High School, you may notice that For Sale signs advertise that the home is zoned to the high school. This shows you how strong the school's reputation is. Many parents also pay out of district tuition so their kids can attend the school. Teaching positions at the school are sought after and the administration often has 900 applicants for a single position, enabling the school to hire top tier teachers.
The school puts students' needs first and will even hold a course that has 8-10 students in it to ensure the the needs of those individual students are met. Students interested in pursuing a career in education can participate in the Invitation to Teach program, where they work with students in other schools to get a feel for the profession.
Students are involved on campus and extracurricular activities, like the popular Harry Potter club, are important in school culture. The athletics program offers 31 sports, including bowling, badminton, and lacrosse. Many sports teams are no-cut, so any motivated student can play.
“Our school culture is one the things that makes families want to attend our school. Character counts at our school and we have a positive culture,” said Michael McGrory, principal.
Township High School District 214
If you visit John Hersey High School, you may see kids wearing T-shirts proclaiming that they scored over 30 on the ACT -- it's cool to be smart on campus! Through a layered curriculum and guest speakers, teachers help the students learn to think by presenting multiple perspectives on topics. The school has a large Advanced Placement program and a majority of the students participate.
Over half of the student body hits the playing fields after school to practice with one of the school's many teams. If sports aren't your thing, don't worry! A point of pride at the school is the performing arts program, and the band recently played in Carnegie Hall. Other ensembles, including orchestra and show choir, repeatedly receiving accolades. The school newspaper has an excellent reputation and has taken home national and state awards. Community service is evident throughout campus from the students visiting senior citizens, working with special need students, and organizing a very large canned food drive.
“Hersey is remarkable place and is most caring organization that I have ever worked at. We are the Hersey family and the Hersey heart is evident in everything that we do,” said Dr. Tina Cantrell.
City of Chicago School District 299
Jones College Prep's downtown Chicago location makes many community partnerships with other institutions, such as the Art Institute of Chicago, DePaul University and the Goodwin Theater, possible and accessible to students. Students are admitted to the Selective Enrollment high school based on grades and admission tests. The small school of 850 students is very racially, ethnically and socio-economically diverse – it has a 55 percent free and reduced lunch population.
The school draws from a wide variety of middle schools, so many students arrive on campus without knowing anyone, which creates a very accepting atmosphere. Students often tell administrators that they enjoy the closeness of the school and that they feel very safe at the school, both physically and emotionally. Before starting school, all freshmen attend the Freshman Connection over the summer where they have an opportunity to meet other students.
The school offers traditional high school activities and all major sports, except football, and many teams are competitive at the local and regional level. Students interested in the arts can display their work in the local galleries and work with local theaters through the school's partnerships.
“Through building relationships and providing rich content we help our students build the skills that they need to get into college and be successful at college.” said Dr. Joseph Powers.
Lake Forest Chicago High School District 115
The Lake Forest Community supports the high school in a variety of ways including fundraising, purchasing equipment and volunteering time. The average faculty member has 10 years of classroom experience and 95 percent of faculty has an advanced degree.
The campus was constructed in 1935, but has been renovated over the years. Modern amenities include impressive labs, a media center and state of the art athletic complexes. Technology has been integrated throughout the school including multimedia productions rooms and the theater. An impressive 93 percent of the students earn college credit through taking an AP exam, and after the final bell, many activities are available including clubs, sports, and performing arts.
The school website states, “Emotional Wellness is an initiative threaded throughout the building curriculum and school community, which focuses on each student as a whole person - emotional intelligence and relational skills as well as intellectual and physical development.”
Lake Zurich Chicago Unified School District 95
If you want to go to a Lake Zurich High School home football game, be sure to buy your ticket ahead of time -- this team always plays to a sold out stadium! As the only high school serving the community of Lake Zurich, the local community provides a lot of support for the school, which is a focal point of the town.
Teachers view working at Lake Zurich High School as a destination job and teacher openings are rare. The staff also works to create a positive climate through student recognition on campus, where students are known for their high levels of school spirit.
Theatrical students perform on campus in one of the best theaters in the area and the other arts programs, including fine arts, choir, band and orchestra, are popular. Athletic teams are very competitive, and the football team is usually in contention for a state title.
Community service is important on campus, and a large event held each year to raise money for a charity. Many of the clubs and teams also have a specific charity that they support and sponsor.
“I am very proud to be the principal of our school,” said Kim Kolze. “Our climate and culture is one where kids are welcomed and have many opportunities to be a part of the school.”
City of Chicago School District 299
Lane Technical High School provides students a well-rounded education that focuses on integrating technology into the curriculum. The school has a long tradition of excellence and has been graduating students for over 100 years.
The school hosts around 4200 diverse students, and over 90 percent of the students head to college after receiving their high school diploma. Students can apply to be a part of the Alpha Honor Program, which focuses on challenging curriculum in science, math, and English using a team approach. Athletics are an important part of school culture and the school has over 500 city champions to it's name. Many interest and ethnic clubs are available for students as well.
The website states that the school's mission is, “providing curricular offerings that optimize the college preparatory experience of students, establishing an environment where mutual respect and positive relationships exist between students and staff, empowering students to accept responsibility for their learning, building relationships with parents, and improving support services for special needs students.”
Chicago High School District 128
Students at Libertyville High School can often be found working individually across the campus, getting tutoring in the college center, working on a computer in the writing lab, or getting extra help in the Math and Science Room. The school has an active anti-bullying program to help create a positive climate on campus, and the parents and community are very invested in the school.
Students who are struggling can get individual help from core academic teachers and literacy coaches in the PAWS program during their study hall period. Other students attend the CAT table during half of their lunch period to help them with homework completion. Freshmen meet with upperclassmen two days a week to help ease their transition to high school.
Many students head to the playing fields once school's out for the day. State championships have been won in many sports and academic competition including debate and cheerleading. The fine arts program is also award winning on both a district and state level.
“Our kids tell us that there so many great programs at the school and so many people who care about them,” said Dr. Marina Scott.
Lincoln Way Chicago High School District 210
Many of the parents of Lincoln-Way Central High School students once attended the school themselves. The school, which opened in 1954, has deep roots in the community and residents often move into the area specifically for the school. The school is well known for its district-wide discipline structure which has defined rules and expectations. This enables teachers to teach and students to learn in the classroom.
If you want to witness some school spirit, stop by Lincoln-Way where you'll hear the fight song playing on a Friday or wittiness a regular pep assemblies, which is described as “second to none.” The staff gives students an opportunity to take ownership of the school and listens to student’s ideas on everything from homecoming to ideas for the first day of school. In return, students take pride in their campus from picking up dropped trash to making sure the lunchroom is clean when they leave.
The school works to treat each child as an individual and meet their needs, which can be seen through programs like Academic Assistance. This program provides a room staffed with peer tutors and staff for extra help to extending science courses for kids who need extra instruction.
“We have competitive kids, both in the classroom and outside the classroom. They are proud that this is their school,” said Steve Provis, Principal.
Lincoln Way Chicago High School District 210
The community and parent support for Lincoln-Way East High School provides students with top notch programs and high level academics while still maintaining a sense of family. Community members can be seen on campus using sports facilities, such as the track and pool, during the day. Parent Booster clubs help support many programs on campus, including music and athletics. Over 22 different AP classes are listed in the program of studies for students to choose from.
The school building was recently renovated and 2.7 million was invested in providing the latest in technology for students and staff. The school also has a state of the art auditorium and new field house.
At a recent drama production an audience member assumed that the lead cast members were college kids and was surprised to learn that the high quality performance was comprised solely of high school students. Athletics are competitive with both the football and gymnastics team consistently ranked top in the state. Students can choose from over 50 different interest clubs and service organizations on campus. The school offers many different music programs for students, including band, orchestra and choir.
“We have a lot to be thankful for – our kids and our parent support. We really know how important they are to our success,” said Dr. Brenda Jensen, former Principal.
City of Chicago School District 299
Lindblom Math & Science Academy High School prides itself on community involvement both through community service and partnerships with local businesses. The school uses a modified year-round schedule with breaks instead of a long summer vacation, and operates on a block schedule. The school provides a rigorous academic program that focuses on math and science, but also excels elsewhere; the world language department holds strong classes in Arabic and Mandarin.
One of the hallmarks of the school is a partnership with Baxter International Inc that has created a Biotech center. The center provides hands-on opportunities for students and also trains teachers at other schools to create their own Biotech program. The students work on real world projects, such as modifying dialysis equipment for kids and redesigning drip bags, and present their results to professionals at Baxter.
Each year the school asks the local community how they can help, and then sets out to accomplish this task. The students restarted the local farmers market, which entailed getting $35,000 in grants, working with farmers, and even working with the government so food stamps could be accepted at the market.
“Our tag line is our history guides our future. We see the whole issue of service to a vastly undeserved community is congruous with providing with rich and deep learning,” said Allen Mather, founder.
Lyons Township High School District 204
Lyons Township High School provides students with challenging academics and many extracurricular options to create a well-rounded education. The school's doors opened in 1888, and it has since maintained a long tradition of educating the students in the town.
To help make sure that each of the 4,000 plus students succeed, every student has an adviser throughout their time at Lyons Township as their primary contact. Many students take one or more of the 24 AP courses available and over 93 percent of students pass the exams. The staff at the school is highly qualified, with over 88 percent of the faculty holding advanced degrees.
The campus is bustling after school with over 130 clubs and activities available. The school newspaper has been in print for over 100 years and has been recognized for excellent journalism. Athletic teams have top reputation with recent state championships in boys soccer, girls volleyball, and girls water polo.
The mission statement of the school states: “Drawing from its long tradition and reputation for excellence, Lyons Township High School continues its commitment to making dedicated teaching and meaningful learning its highest priority. LTHS pledges to provide a comprehensive curriculum and co-curricular options that foster the full intellectual, physical, moral, and aesthetic growth of each student...”
Maine Township High School District 207
Maine South High School has a tradition of winning, whether it is in the classroom, on the playing field, or in performing arts competitions. The administration credits the school's success to the parental involvement and partnership to help provide what each child needs. In this small town, many of the residents graduated from the school and the high school is a cornerstone in the local community.
Students can select from over 200 classes and students that are unable to find a course that meets their needs can enroll in distance learning opportunities. The staff at the school is highly educated -- over 80 percent of the teachers hold a Masters degree or above. A high percentage of students participate in the AP courses. Over 1,000 tests were given in a recent year and the school recorded an 85 percent pass rate on them.
The school has many trophies in their trophy case; the school's football team won state championships three years in a row, and the girl's basketball team has also been competitive at the state level in recent years. Academic teams, such as the Engineering team, has been competitive on the national level.
“I am lucky to work in such a supportive community. We have great parents and talented, highly qualified teachers, both of which are a key to our success,” said Shawn P. Messmer, Principal.
Naperville CUSD 203
Naperville Central High School provides students with a well balanced education and impressive academics. A unique feature of the school is an exhibit of a restored Egyptian Mummy that has been featured on several TV shows.
The school operates on a traditional schedule with classes meeting five days a week and eight courses lasting 50 minutes. Almost 1,000 AP tests,with an 85 percent pass rate, were taken last year as a part of the school's popular AP program. The foreign language program offers traditional languages including Latin and Mandarin.
There are many athletic teams playing on campus and recent state championships have been awarded to baseball, swimming and diving, and water polo. Academics have had recent successes and the school newspaper has also received honors.
Naperville Chicago Unified School District 203
With 98 percent of students heading to college, Naperville North High School provides a solid college prep education for its students. The school has over 3100 students walking the hallways and offers many ways to get involved. School spirit is high among students -- homecoming week is a highlight and a bonfire, car show and dances are highly anticipated events.
The extensive AP program includes over 20 different courses. Over 1045 exams were administrated in a recent year and over 85 percent of the students passed the exam.
Students can socialize with other teens with similar interests in a variety of interest clubs, such as Anime, Ski and Snowboard Club, Rubik’s Cube Club and a Rock Climbing Club. Academic clubs, such as Mandarin and Physics club are also available. Academic teams, such as Math Team and Youth and Science in Engineering, have had much success in contests. A wide array of varsity sports are available, including several club sports like field hockey, lacrosse, and ice hockey.
Winnetka New Trier Township High School District 203
Students at New Trier Township High School Winnetka have many opportunities to learn both inside and outside the classroom. To help ease the transition into the school, freshmen by starting off their high school career at the Northfield Campus, while the rest of the students attend class at the Winnetka Campus.
The Advanced Placement program is a cornerstone of the school. 1,939 tests were administered in a recent school year and 94 percent of the students earn college credit through the test. The school focuses on preparing students for college and it shows -- New Trier students have a 98% college attendance rate. Students develop relationships with adults on campus through an assigned adviser that stays with them throughout their four years on campus.
Students can apply to attend the Integrated Global Studies School program, in which students take courses in English, social studies, and science. These courses focus on a yearly theme, such as the recent theme of Justice on This Planet. Students in the IGSS program also apply their learning through real world activities, such as internships, community service and field trips.
The campus is very active outside of the classroom as well. Over 150 activities are available to students, including a nationally recognized fine and performing arts program. Athletics are a point of pride for the school, which has earned the bragging rights that come with winning the most state championships of any school in Illinois.
Indian Prairie Chicago Unified School District 204
Although Nequa Valley High School is young, it has a long list of accomplishments to account for its 14 years.The school offers a large number of AP courses and has expanded its courses to select from in recent years. Students are known for high achievement with an average of 20-25 National Merit Scholars coming from the school each year.
To help freshmen adapt at the large school of over 4000 students, freshmen begin their college career in a separate building called the Freshmen Center. Seniors can get a head start on college through the Frontier program, where students can earn college credit without paying any tuition. These students enjoy a college-like atmosphere with block scheduling and an open campus.
Popular arts programs include comprehensive dance, fine arts and music. The school has been the only non- arts magnet, public school to receive the John F. Kennedy award for their arts program in the past ten year. The school was also a recent GRAMMY Signature Gold school for their music program, in which over 1/5 of the student body participates.
“We have both a high quality facility and high academic achievements,” said Robert McBride, Principal.
City of Chicago School District 299
Northside College Preparatory High School focuses on innovation and the humanities. Students must apply to the selective enrollment school and admission is based on criteria which includes an admission test and past grades. The school offers a diverse population with many different religious groups and cultures on campus, in addition to a third of the students qualifying for the free and reduced lunch population.
The curriculum focuses on constructivist learning, where staff gives students the tools that they need and students construct their own learning. For example, students learn about waves in physics through working with magnets, students in a law elective work throughout the year on a brief that they eventually present in a courtroom with local lawyers, and English students write and direct a play writing festival each year. In addition, students attend a weekly colloquium to focus on a topic of interest, such as alternative energy or starting a rock band.
Community service is a priority on campus, and many students tutor at nearby schools. Additionally, the school hosts a school-wide service day, and many clubs and teams sponsor specific charities. For example, the Volleyball team once raised over $10,000 for pediatric cancer!
“We get great kids, but we also expect great things from them,” said Principal Barry Rodgers.
City of Chicago School District 299
Payton College Preparatory High School has a diverse student body and high academic standards. While many area schools are somewhat segregated, the school breaks down a lot of stereotypes and provides a learning environment in which students from different backgrounds can come together.
The faculty members are leaders in their field and in addition to teaching students every day, many have work published and lead national conferences. The community and parents provide fundraising and support to the school through booster groups and a school endowment.
The school provides an academically challenging environment by only offering AP and honors-level courses. The math program has received national recommendation. Global connections are integrated throughout the school and all core areas, including a strong foreign language department and opportunities to travel overseas. Student leadership is also focus with students designing and leading the seminar program on campus.
A variety of sports teams, including football, baseball, and basketball, are offered on campus. Students can also participate in a variety of clubs with interest, service, and academic focuses.
“Our students come from a variety of public, private, independent and home schools, but all have in common support at home and incredible motivation,” said Naomi Nakayama, Assistant Principal at Peyton College Preparatory School.
Township High School District 214
The staff at Prospect High School works to provide opportunities for each student to be successful, whether that be in the classroom, on a sports field or playing an instrument. Due to staff encouragement, the AP course enrollment has doubled in the past several years while the pass rate has stayed consisted.
The music programs on campus have earned a reputation throughout Illinois and even the nation. The school has been identified as a Grammy signature school for several recent years. The marching band has taken home top honors at state competitions and the dance program is also ranked in the top programs in Illinois. The drama and speech teams have also taken home their share of awards. Athletic teams have earned many titles and the school has been recognized for the past four years as having the top overall athletic program in the conference.
“I think that the focus is that as a school we are trying to provide opportunities for individual to be highly successful in all aspects of their social, emotional and intellectual and athletic development,” said Kurt Laakso, Principal. “We work to provide opportunities for excellence in all.”
Riverside-Brookfield Township School District 208
New students at Riverside Brookfield Township High School often tell the administration how they feel that the teachers really care about their success and go the extra mile to help them. In a recent survey by an accreditation team, 100 percent of the students said that there was an adult on campus that they would go to for help.
The facilities are impressive and include an on-campus television station, modern woodworking lab, and computerized automotive lab. The school offers 24 Advanced Placement courses and 19 honors level classes. To encourage giving back, community service hours are tracked and noted on student transcripts. The Best Buddies Club, where special needs students work with students in regular classes, has received national recognition and is popular among students.
The arts are important on campus and each student is required to take a Fine Arts Survey class such as introduction to visual arts, drama, voice, and dance. The arts program has also received state-wide recognition and taken home honors in many competitions. The school is active after classes are done for the day, with 45 clubs and 25 sports, including Special Olympics teams.
“We stress that our relationships are what matter here. All learning connects to students through these relationships. It is what we hire for and what we nurture in the environment,” said Pam Bylsma, Principal.
St Charles Chicago Unified School District 303
The administration at St. Charles credits the success of the school to supportive parents, dedicated staff, and motivated students. The school works to maintain a family atmosphere and many alumni return to the campus often for visits. Parental involvement is high and many parent groups help support the programs on campus. The school is diverse and provides students with many opportunities to learn about other cultures.
The school offers a rigorous academic program which includes many AP courses. Students who need extra help attend the Applied Study Skills program during their study hall each day to receive one-on-one help from an adult. To help students pursue their interests, the school has many athletic teams and a very active fine and performing arts program.
Community service is a priority at the school. The students send boxes of goodies to soldiers serving overseas and adopt local needy families for the holidays. Students also interact with residents of a nearby nursing home by bringing them to school events and hosting ice cream socials for the seniors.
“Our kids are great kids. We have a phenomenal high school and I am so proud of our kids. This is a great place and I am proud to be the principal of this school and a member of the community,” said Robert Miller.
St Charles Chicago Unified School District 303
If you walk through the halls at St Charles North High School, you might notice many of the kids wearing a host of different t-shirts – for homecoming, interest clubs such as Calculus Club, and even a social studies class celebrating the Year in European History. T-shirts are just one of the many ways that students show their high level of school spirit. Students pursue an academically challenging selection of courses, including a number of AP courses, and can also take vocational courses at Fox Valley Career Center and Elgin Community College.
The staff is very dedicated to the students and often come in early to tutor, stay after school to help students, and sponsor clubs. The students focus on helping others, from opening doors for each other to raising money when disaster strikes another community. The H.O.P.E. club, which spreads a message an anti-suicide and safe driving through peer mediation, is very active. Parents are very involved and administrators say that if they need something for the school, a single call to a parent often yields results.
“High test scores don’t just happen because you have smart kids or good teachers, but because of the heart and soul of the school behind the schools. And that’s what people in these buildings – heart and soul,” said Kim Zupec, Principal.
Chicago High School District 128
The students at Vernon Hills High School often comment to the administration how much they like their teachers and how much their teachers really care about them. The staff goes the extra mile, coming in early and staying late, to give students the attention and help they need.
The community supports the school and attends school events, including athletic events and arts performances. The school opened in 1999 and the initial excitement in the community around finally having its own high school has translated into long term support of the school.
Students can be a member of over 30 different clubs, including the Cycling Club, Book Club, Outdoor Adventure, and Guitar Club. Academic teams and clubs are also available, including the Math Team which has won two state championships. The Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering club is also active on campus and has taken home top state honors, both individually and as a team. Athletics teams are also on campus in addition to an active arts department, which includes the band, choir, orchestra, and theater.
“I am most proud of how the kids get along with each other. We have a diverse population and kids are accepting of each other,” said Dr. Ellen Cwick, Principal.
High School District 211
WM Fremd High School offers a wide variety of academic, athletic, and extracurricular opportunities for students. Challenging academic courses are offered in addition to a variety of electives.
A wide range of clubs are available, including Auto Club, Fashion Club, and Writer’s Forum. Academic teams are also active, such as Robotics Club, Scholastic Bowl, Speech Team, and Math Team. Students can also participate in National Honor Society.
WM Fremd hosts a number of athletic teams, such as water polo and lacrosse, in addition to traditional sports. Gymnastics, softball, and badminton have all won recent championships. Students can also participate in a number of intramural sports, such as ping pong and weight training.
The mission statement on the website details, “William Fremd High School, in partnership with the community, dedicates itself to challenge and inspire all students toward academic excellence, positive social development and mutual respect. Our goal is for all students to meet their highest level of achievement as determined by appropriate and meaningful evaluation. We commit ourselves to a comprehensive system of support to ensure student growth.”
Chicago Unified School District 200
If you visit Wheaton North High School, you will notice that students will probably hold the door for you or say “excuse me” if they bump into you. The school has reputation for being welcoming and having a strong sense of community. You will also notice a sea of the school colors – blue and gold – throughout the halls and on students' clothing, as students proudly support the school.
Students have access to state of the art technology including seven on campus computer labs. Wheaton offers 15 AP and 43 different advanced level courses, which demonstrates their focus on achievement. A point of pride on campus is the Recognition Garden, which pays tribute to former students who have lost their lives serving our country.
The music program has an excellent reputation and the band having been invited to play around the country. Students can also play in the orchestra or sing in the choir. Students can be a member of interest clubs or academic teams, such as the Scholastic Bowl or Speech Team. Many athletic teams are offered and teams are competitive at both a local and state level.
“The community is whole heartedly supports the school. Wheaton North High School is highly successfully academically and athletically,” said Dr. Robert Rammer, Assistant Superintendent of CUSD 200.
Chicago Unified School District 200
If you show up to Wheaton Warrenville South High School on a Friday, don't be surprised if you see students wearing only orange and black. Every Friday is Spirit Day at Wheaton, where there is no shortage of school pride. The school has been educating kids in the community for over 100 years, and the community supports the school through a strong booster club that provides significant financial support. The school provides a wide array of AP and honors courses to prepare students for college.
Athletics are important to school culture. The football team is the reining state champion and the volleyball team often competes on the state level. Sports facilities are high quality, and the school has also been recognized at the state level for their sportsmanship throughout the athletic program.
The drama program and nationally-ranked choir are popular on campus, where many students participate in performance arts. Other active clubs on campus include the Book Club, Gaming Club, and S.A.D.D. (Students Against Destructive Decisions)
“Wheaton Warrenville South High School is highly competitive and high achieving. We compete at the highest level both academically and athletically,” said Dr. Robert Rammer, Assistant Superintendent of CUSD 200.
Elmhurst School District 205
York Community High School is all about getting its students college-ready. Over 75 percent of the staff hold advanced degrees, and 12 percent of the staff have more than 20 years of classroom experience. The AP program is popular on campus with 422 students taking 884 exams in a recent school year. Students did well on the tests with over 87 percent passing the exam. And finally, over 97 percent of the kids head to university after graduation.
Each fall upperclassmen have leadership opportunities through the Freshmen Mentoring Leadership program, which helps students transition from middle to high school. Freshmen meet weekly with their mentors during the first semester to ease any stress.
Over 84 percent of students are a member of at least one team, club, or performing art program. Athletic teams, such as boy's cross country, have winning reputations. Student can also play on a variety of intramural teams, including Dodge ball, Ping Pong, and Ultimate Frisbee.
City of Chicago School District 299
When you walk into Young Magnet High School, you might see students reading textbooks in the lunchroom or doing homework in corners of the school. Academics are the focus at Young Magnet, where 75 percent of all students are enrolled in at least one AP course, and the goal is soon to have 100 percent enrolled. Admission to the magnet high school is based on seventh grade test scores and an entrance exam.
The school’s philosophy is that participation in extracurricular activities helps students feel involved in the school, which translates back into more success in the classroom. Over 75 percent of the student body is involved in a club, activity, or sport. Academic teams have had a lot of success in competitions, including the Academic Decathlon, Math Team, Chess Team, and Bio diesel team. The school has many sports teams, and the Pom Squad and Track Team recently had winning seasons.
“The fabric of our school is academic excellence. Students walk in the school for the first time knowing the agenda – which is to get them to college and to the college of their choice,” said Dr. Joyce Kenner, Principal.
Please note that only schools in the following Illinois counties were considered for this article: Kenosha, Jasper, Lake, Newton, and Porter.