Education

Pass Christian, Ocean Springs ranked top high schools in state

OCEAN SPRINGS SCHOOL DISTRICT 
 Ocean Springs High School students complete a lab in AP Environmental Science. The school has been ranked third in the state in U.S. News & World Report annual rankings released Wednesday, April 20, 2016.
OCEAN SPRINGS SCHOOL DISTRICT Ocean Springs High School students complete a lab in AP Environmental Science. The school has been ranked third in the state in U.S. News & World Report annual rankings released Wednesday, April 20, 2016.

Pass Christian and Ocean Springs high schools are two of the top three schools in the state, according to rankings released Wednesday from U.S. News and World Report.

The news organization ranks high schools nationwide and statewide every year based on specific guidelines, among them college preparedness of its students.

Pass Christian High earned the top spot, DeSoto Central High in Southaven was second, Ocean Springs was third, and Lewisburg High in Olive Branch came in fourth.

In its review, U.S. News and World Report awarded both Pass Christian and Ocean Springs silver medals. The silver medal ranking is based on the school's academic success compared to high schools across the nation. Less than 15 percent of high schools earn a gold or silver medal, according to the publication.

No high schools in the state received a gold medal.

"It is imperative that schools prepare students who are ready for the world and the opportunities of the future," Bonita Coleman-Potter, Ocean Springs schools superintendent, said in a press release. "This ranking shows that we are doing this here in Ocean Springs, and I look forward to seeing how we compare to schools, not only in Mississippi but around the nation in the future," she said.

"I'm proud of the ranking of our high school," OSHS Principal Vickie Tiblier said. "While we will enjoy this ranking, we will continue to seek out ways to improve as we guide our students on their quest to college and career readiness."

The state has 453 public high schools. Rankings are determined via a four-step process. The study examined student performance on of reading and math tests, and took an in-depth look at the success of disadvantaged students. Graduation rates and data concerning advanced placement and International Baccalaureate tests also played a role.

The ranking comes off another prestigious distinction for the Ocean Springs School District. Ocean Springs Upper Elementary recently won the Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthiest School in Mississippi award, for which a $50,000 check will be presented at the high school.

"We truly believe that promoting health and wellness helps our students grow personally and academically and begins with creating an atmosphere where healthy choices are encouraged and practiced by the school community," OSUE Principal Susan Dollar said.

Among events and activities that earned the school the award were hosting the September Stomp and Pumpkin community fun runs, a health fair at the school's Open House and an annual weight-loss and fitness challenge. The school celebrates Every Kid Healthy Week each April, which features a Healthy Body Healthy Minds pep rally as a kick-off for state testing.

The school plans to build a new playground fitness system and buy cafeteria equipment with the award money. It also plans to enhance its student health and wellness program and add equipment to the staff workout room.

The check will be presented Thursday at the Healthy Minds Pep Rally at the school.

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