GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Even for a school with as much state and national success as City High School in Grand Rapids, this was surprising.
When the U.S. News and World Report education rankings came out Tuesday, City found themselves in a familiar, and not so familiar spot. Once again, for the second time in three years, they were the top-ranked high school academically in the state of Michigan. That wasn’t so surprising. The year prior, they were ranked second in the state; in 2014, they took the top spot.
It was the national ranking that turned some heads inside the esteemed old building on Plainfield Avenue.
“This year we’re number one in the state and number 18 in the nation,” said school principal Ryan Huppert. “And I believe that’s our highest national ranking ever, which is pretty exciting.”
The annual rankings are as much an academic spring tradition as prom and graduation. They rank 24,000 high schools nationwide and factor in criteria like SAT scores, graduation rates, college readiness and a school’s demographics.
“Word has gotten out,” said Huppert. “I heard students talking about it already and I think they do understand it’s a big deal. And it really recognizes their work and it’s validating for them.”
City High also ranked number one in the U.S. for their graduation rates. They were also one of the most diverse schools on the list, with 50% of their students coming from minority backgrounds.
While City High is part of the Grand Rapids Public School system, they offer their students – who have to test into the curriculum – advanced programming. City is an International Baccalaureate Program and Huppert says their diploma program for juniors and seniors is one of the most difficult and rigorous education programs that exists globally.
This year’s list considered multi-year data, with COVID-19 delaying or disrupting the scheduling of tests U.S. News and World Report would typically use for much of their ranking criteria.
Students cheered and clapped as Huppert broke the news to one class – a well deserved accolade for his students who work so hard all year.
“Now we’ll look to ways to celebrate it with our students and our families to make sure that they get a piece of the limelight they deserve,” he said, “because it’s really the students and the staff that make this success happen.”