Below are profiles featuring the top nine high schools in the Cleveland 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.
Avon Lake City School District
At the beginning of the school year, the staff at Avon Lake High School hosts a free cookout for all students before a home football game to thank the students for their hard work the previous school year. This event is one example of how the school focuses on creating a positive and caring environment. The entire staff, including custodians, secretaries and teachers, uses a team approach to educating the students and work together to meet their needs.
The school focuses on giving back to the community and serving others. Each year the student body raises $6,000 to send a sick child to Disney World through the Make-A-Wish-Foundation. The National Honor Society also goes to an inner city school in Cleveland to work with students and provide school supplies.
In terms of academics, students can choose from a large variety of AP courses. At the end of the day, students can play on one of many sports teams. The football team has won 23 regional titles and the tennis team is also competitive on a state and regional level.
“We really believe that students don’t care what you know until they know that you care,” said Dr. Joanie Walker.
Chagrin Falls Exempted Village School District
As part of a small village, the school is affectionately called "The Bubble," and many graduates return after college to raise their own children in the family environment. Academics are a priority at the school, which offers 15 different AP courses and has over 220 student participants. Artistically included students can select from a wide range of art courses including painting, sculpture, computer graphics and jewelry making.
Students get a global perspective during their four years at the school through several student exchanges with China and South Africa. World languages are point of pride on campus and Arabic, Chinese, French and Spanish are offered. Students can also travel annually with school groups to Spain, France, and Egypt.
Students learn to give back through many fundraisers during the year, including recent drives for Haiti and Japan. A recent Key Club canned food drive netted a truck load of food to give to local families in need. Many sports teams are offered and cross country has a high number of runners each year.
“We are very friendly, have a small town atmosphere, with many successful students and residents. Our school doors are open, quiet and very friendly,” said Bill Koons, Principal.
Cuyahoga Heights Local School District
Many of the students at Cuyahoga Heights High School have heard stories from their parents and grandparents about attending that same school when they were younger. The school has a focus on community service (60 hours are required to graduate), and on health and wellness. With an emphasis on college prep at the school, 58 percent of a recent graduating class received a scholarship to a post-secondary school.
The school boasts many AP and honors courses, while a wide variety of elective offerings are also available, including Sports Nutrition and International Food. The school has a number of Technology Education courses to help students prepare for potential careers, such as Gaming, Web Page Design, Woodworking, and Robotics.
Through an arrangement with Cuyahoga Valley Career Center, upperclassmen can attend career and technical courses to give them a step up on their future career. Students can also select from one of the many extracurricular programs on campus. The music program has been repeatedly recognized as one of the top 100 programs in the nations.
Independence Local School District
One of the ways that Independence High School encourages academic success at the school is by offering Honors privileges to students who keep a 3.7 G.P.A, take an AP class, qualify as a Merit Scholar, or are an NHS member. Currently, around a quarter of the students have the privileges which allow them to leave campus during lunch periods and hang out unsupervised in the comfortable honors lounge.
The school recently opened a new building, equipped with modern technologies. Teachers are highly qualified (over 80 percent of the faculty have an advanced degree) and the average class size is only 12 students. In 2011, Principal Roger Howard was named the State High School Principal of the Year for the state of Ohio.
In recent years, the school has added 7 courses to its AP program and quadrupled the number of tests administered to students. Plenty of activities are available after the bell each day including Bio Society, drama, and Key Club. Sports teams have a winning reputation, particularly Boys Cross Country, Baseball, and wrestling.
“As a relatively small high school (only 430 total students), we like to think of our culture as a "large family." Many people comment that Independence High School is a "public school that thinks it is a private school,” said Roger Howard.
Kenston Local School District
Kenston High School partners with the community and parents to create a positive school culture. The school is focused on fostering a peaceful environment that encourages students to respect one another. The school has also been recognized for their focus on physical activity and health and wellness.
One of the cornerstones for the success of the school is the partnership with parents and the support of the community, including a very active PTO. The importance of serving others is instilled in the school through food drives and serving meals at food banks. Over 33 after school activities are available, including bowling and chess club. The arts program is active and includes programs like suburb drama, fine arts and music department.
The school encourages students to take AP courses. A wide selection of elective courses are available, including Digital Photography, Woman’s Studies, The Holocaust, Alternative Energies, and a course designed to help students prepare for college.
“Our wonderful community is supportive of education as a whole and of our school. That support is really what makes our school a great place,” said Principal Nancy Santilli.
Kirtland Local School District
Students at Kirtland High receive an education balanced between high academics and opportunities extracurricular activities. Community service is a focus and is required for graduation.
Kirtland offers a AP courses and a variety of honors or college prep classes. There are a wide array of electives offered as well, including Entrepreneurship in Society, Contemporary Social Issues, and Web Design.
The Kirtland Local School District has an overall commitment to arts programs. Students can find many creative outlets through performances, music classes, and fine arts courses. Drama students can also benefit from a partnership with PlayhouseSquare, a local theater.
Once class is out, students can further their interests and make friends through many clubs on campus, including an Entrepreneurship club, Japanese Club, Key Club, and Drama club. Students also participate in academic contests, such as History Day and Mock Trail. Sports teams, such as the successful wrestling and track and field teams, are available as well.
Orange City School District
Orange High school gives student a strong education while providing many real- world opportunities outside of the classroom. The AP program has wide participation and offers a variety of courses. In addition to rigorous core classes, Organge High has a wide selection of electives, including arts and technology courses. The school focuses on college preparation and sends 98 percent of students to college after receiving their diploma.
While community service is not a graduation requirement, the PTA recognizes all students completing 70 hours to encourage service. Juniors create a portfolio of their work to present during college interviews, while all seniors must complete a senior project to help them apply what they have learned in high school to an area of interest. Projects can include learning more about a career, learning a new skill, or completing a service project.
The extracurricular activities are extensive with many students participating in a variety of programs from drama to SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions). Students can also play on a variety of sports teams, and those interested in journalism can join the award winning student newspaper.
Rocky River City School District
Rocky River High School prepares students for college with a rigorous academic program and a wide range of activities. The school offers a variety AP courses and over 90 percent of graduates head to a post-secondary school after graduation.
Community service is important on campus and many students and clubs participate in service projects. The school has a large Relay for Life team and supports the event each year.
Many activities are available on campus, including drama, fencing, and student clubs. Academic teams such as chess, forensics, and Academic Challenge give students opportunities to learn outside of the classroom. Services clubs, such as Key Club and Club Soda, are also active, and the student newspaper has an excellent reputation.
Sports programs are active and offer many teams. Boys Tennis and Girls track have had recent successes on the playing fields.
To help connect high school to the real world, eligible seniors can complete a Senior Project. Seniors meeting academic, attendance, and behavior criteria can participate in a 75 hour project during the last three weeks of their senior year. Seniors work with a community mentor on the project and present their when the project is finished.
Solon City School District
The Solon High School administration makes each decision for the school based on what is best for the students. Academics are top priority and the school views itself as a professional learning community. Students can select from one of 19 different AP courses to earn college credit. The school also helps students pursue their interests through many different elective offerings, such as Sports Management, Engineering Technology, Photography, and Debate.
Outside of the classroom, students can take the stage with a high caliber theater program. Students interested in music can participate in the awarding winning marching band, orchestra, or show choir. The school also has a local public access TV station on campus called Salon Education Television, which is staffed by students and produces many school-related programs.
“We embrace diversity at Solon High School and we are committed to ensuring each and every student meets his fullest potential,” said Erin Short, Principal. “We expect to be the best in all that we do - on the stage, on the athletic field and in the classroom. The balance between rigorous core academic courses and electives designed to meet the needs of students makes our academic programming unique.”
Please note that only schools in the following Ohio counties were considered for this article: Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, and Medina.