Below are profiles featuring the top 10 high schools in the Pittsburgh 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.
Beaver Area School District
Beaver Area Senior High School students receive a well-rounded education that combines challenging curriculum and various opportunities outside the classroom. Students at enjoy top notch facilities, including a large auditorium used for community events as well as school events, and a smaller theater for more intimate productions. The school has technology integrated throughout the campus and boasts nine different science labs.
The school offers an impressive AP program with 12 different courses to choose from. Over 80 percent of the students at the school take at least one AP course during their high school career. Students can take the stage with the top notch performing arts programs, including drama, band, concert choir, and orchestra.
“Our people, from students to faculty, to staff and administration, make our schools a learning community, whose foundation is a unique blend of fostering relationships, honoring tradition, and embracing innovation,” writes Principal Dave Zuspic on the school website. “Our commitment to education through technology, academics, the arts, athletics, and activities have created one of the premier schools in Western Pennsylvania.”
Bethel Park School District
If you go to a football game at Bethel Park High you might notice that the drill team is wearing the same style of uniforms typically worn in the 1950’s. Traditions, such as the uniforms and an annual Powder Puff football game, have been followed for years and are important to the culture of the school. Many parents of students graduated from the high school themselves and the vast majority of the school's staff live in the community.
The halls are typically decorated for upcoming events and students always dress in school colors for events – school spirit is evident at Bethel Park. Community service is also important to the school, and students are often collecting items and food for charitable organizations. Students and teachers have the opportunity to develop relationships through programs like the holiday secret Santa; students even decorate classroom doors on teachers' birthdays.
The school offers a wide variety of AP and Honors courses, and majority of the school's graduates go to college. After school, students can find many ways to become involved through sports teams and interest clubs. The music department – the band, in particular -- has a reputation for excellence as well.
“Bethel Park High School and the community is one of the places where everybody knows everyone else,” said Vicki Flotta, Director of Public Relations for Bethel Park School District.
Fox Chapel Area School District
If you walk through the cafeteria at Fox Chapel Area Senior High School, you'll see students from different socioeconomic and racial groups chatting and eating lunch together. The diversity and friendliness at the school help create a rich learning environment.
The school offers such a wide range of courses and electives that the staff is constantly reminding students to read the course schedule to make sure that they don’t miss out on any opportunities. The school offers a number of AP courses and participation in the program is high. The technology courses are also popular and the school has an accomplished fine arts program as well.
The school uses a four by four block schedule to provide more choices and options for both remediation and acceleration. Students enjoy a lot of flexibility and college-like experiences, especially for upperclassmen. Many students take advantage of online courses, internships, dual enrollment, and study abroad opportunities. Over 10 percent of the students take advantage of the early graduation program, which enables them to graduate at the end of their junior year and to start college early or travel.
“We perform high each year because we have a lot supports in place for students. One of the keys to our success is that we service kids at all ends of the spectrum,” said Michael Hower, Principal.
Franklin Regional School District
Franklin Regional Senior High School offers students a host of learning experiences, ranging from the classroom to athletic fields and theater stages. One of the focuses of the school is maintaining a positive culture and supporting students to achieve their best. The school has an active anti-bullying program on campus to help create a positive environment for students, and over 50 percent of the staff hold advanced degrees.
Students can select from a variety of AP courses and honors programs. In addition to a strong college preparatory curriculum, the school offers a career and technology program through community partnerships. There are also a number of sports teams and programs that students can participate in.
Over 40 clubs are available on campus, including Video Gaming, Young Writers, and Photography. Many of the clubs are service-focused, such as the Key Club, Interact, and Kids Helping Kids. Honor societies are also prevalent and include the National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society, and Science National Honor Society. A wide range of sports are also available and many teams having winning reputations.
“We take school rules and safety very seriously to follow our mission statement of providing a positive school culture,” said Principal Tina Burns.
Hampton Township School District
With a low teacher to student ratio (1 teacher to every 17 students), students at Hampton High School benefit greatly from individualized attention. Most classes have around 24 students, which also contributes to students being able to develop a relation with staff. Community service is a priority on campus and 40 volunteer hours are required to graduate.
After class, students can participate in the clubs like the Drama Club, Video Club, and Teenage Republicans. Academic clubs, such as the German Club, Robotics, and Environmental Club also meet on campus. The school also boasts an active National Honor Society.
There are a number of varsity sports teams to choose from, and the Lacrosse, Track and Field, Baseball and Tennis teams have all had recent success. Club sports are also available to all students, including Disc Golf, Crew, In-line Hockey, Ice Hockey, and Ultimate Frisbee.
Mt Lebanon School District
While academics are the top priority Mt Lebanon Senior High School, the school also maintains a tradition of excellence in arts, athletics, and activities.
The school offers many AP courses and supplements the core subject with specialized courses, such as studying specific aspects of literature in the 11th and 12th grades. Social studies knowledge is applied through programs like International Relations and Current Issues in a Global Society. The same approach is taken in science with courses in Honors Organic Chemistry and Astrobiology. To challenge mathematically talented students, advanced courses are offered both on campus and through local colleges.
Students can select from over 27 different varsity teams (the girl's basketball team just won their third state championship in a row!) and many other intramural sports teams. Over 60 different clubs are available on campus in addition to a thriving art program and television arts program. The fine arts are showcased through the theater program, concert band, orchestra, and percussion program.
“Our school prides itself on traditions of excellence,” said Ron Davis, Principal. “We pride ourselves on a rich and diverse curriculum for our students.”
North Allegheny School District
When the staff at North Allegheny Senior High School talks about the programs at the school, they always mention arts, athletics, and academics in a different order to help illustrate that none of the areas are more important than the others. The school offers four levels of classes and works to treat each group of students equally - from the kids taking challenging AP classes to those who have challenges.
Parents and the community value education and send students to school ready to learn. The school building is an active place where administrators joke that the school never sleeps, because either a school activity is in progress or a community group is using the facility for an event.
Students participate in a variety of activities and it's not uncommon to see a starting football player on stage at the spring musical. Academic teams often bring home top honors at national and state contests, including Forensics, Chemistry Olympics, and Latin. The foreign language department is strong and offers a variety of languages.
“We provide a very safe and caring environment for kids and call ourselves the NASH family. We think about the kids in everything and all things that we do” said Principal Walter Sieminski.
Peters Township School District
Peters Township High School provides a top notch college preparatory education for students. The school opened its doors in 1968 and was renovated in 2001. Around 1400 students walk the halls each day. The athletic teams play in a state of the art stadium complete with an all-weather track.
The school offers many AP courses including Calculus and Psychology. A wide selection of electives are available including Movies and Meaning, American Legal System, and History in the Headlines. Students can get a head start on their future careers with courses in the Technology Education department, such as CADD (Computer-Aided Design & Drafting) and Architecture Process.
After school, students can participate in a variety of clubs, such as the Book Club, Ski Club, and Photography Club. Community service clubs, such as S.A.A.D. and Students Active for Environment, are also on campus.
The school's mission, as detailed on their website, is to,“ensure that all students receive the highest quality education delivered by an excellent staff making full use of resources so that students may become contributing members of society and lifelong learners.”
South Fayette Township School District
When administrators at South Fayette Township High School ask students about their experience at the school, many say that the teachers have high expectations but provide them with the support they need through after school or weekend help.
As a graduation requirement, students start an extensive, career-related project in eighth grade that they work on until their senior year, and then present to a panel. Additionally, the school works to provide each student with a real-world, project-based learning opportunity, such as a recent project with All-Clad, USA in which students worked to develop solutions for scenarios.
Student participation in extracurricular activities is high. The school band, The Little Green Machine, is known throughout the state for their unique style, and the show choir regularly performs locally. Artistically inclined students can find enough electives to pursue their passion for all four years, and sports teams, such as the football and baseball teams, have had recent successes.
"Our students are very friendly and welcoming to guests who visit the high school. We have a great school culture. One of the most important aspects of our building is the relationships staff and students have with each other," said Scott T. Milburn, Principal.
Upper Saint Clair School District
Upper Saint Clair High School has three entrances to the school, and each one represents the three different aspects of the school – academics, arts, and athletics. The school achieves high academic success through offering various IB and AP courses, and the IB Middle Years program.
The school is very internationally diverse and many families at the school relocate from other countries. Students can also learn about other cultures through ongoing student exchanges with students from Thailand, China, and Germany. Overseas travel opportunities, such as recent trips to Greece and Italy, are available through the school. The school has an extensive world language program to help students learn to communicate globally.
The administration believes that it's important for students to connect with the school and provides many opportunities to do so. Over 100 clubs are offered, including a Fly Fishing Club and a club devoted to The Simpson's TV show. Although Upper Saint Clair High School has the smallest student body population in its athletic division, the school offers the most number of teams and has a winning reputation.
“Our philosophy is put kids first. Every decision we make, the first thing we ask is what is the best for the kids,” said Michael Ghilani. “Our kids and our community have in common that education is a priority.”
Please note that only schools in the following Pennsylvania counties were considered for this article: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland.