• Newsweek recognizes Grain Valley High School

  • When asked why Grain Valley High School was singled out on Newsweek magazine’s “America’s Best High Schools” list, Beth Mulvey points to three things – rigor, relevance and relationships.

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  • When asked why Grain Valley High School was singled out on Newsweek magazine’s “America’s Best High Schools” list, Beth Mulvey points to three things – rigor, relevance and relationships.
    “Grain Valley stands out because we make every effort to ensure that every student takes a challenging course of study," said the Grain Valley High School principal. "We have very high expectations, but we also have a staff that will do whatever is necessary to make sure students are successful in whatever they choose to do after graduation.
    “The Newsweek announcement comes during the Advanced Placement testing window where it is not uncommon to see the school’s cafeteria full on a Sunday afternoon doing test preparations or teachers tweeting out ‘good luck,’ and ‘I believe you can’ messages to their students. No school stands out without special people.”
    Newsweek’s list, which is published each year, is based on how hard school staff work to challenge students with advanced placement courses as well as AP exams.
    Advanced placement courses challenge students to do college-level work, and at the end of the course every student in the country takes the same test. Those who score a 3 or higher on a scale of 5 may earn college credit.
    This year, the ranking highlights the best 2,000 public high schools in the United States. In addition to the focus on AP exams, the list is based on graduation rate, college acceptance rate and average SAT/ACT scores.
    Other Kansas City area schools on the list include Lee’s Summit High School, Park Hill South High School, Liberty High School, Lincoln College Preparatory Academy in Kansas City and Staley High School in the North Kansas City School District. On the Kansas side, Blue Valley West, Blue Valley, Blue Valley North, Shawnee Mission East, Sumner Academy of Arts and Science, Blue Valley Southwest, Blue Valley Northwest, Shawnee Mission South, Shawnee Mission Northwest and Shawnee Mission West were recognized.
    The No. 1 school in the country is Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Bowling Green, Ky. Grain Valley, which was also named to the list in 2010, ranked No. 1,833 on the list.
    “I was very excited and proud when I heard that we made the list of best high schools,” Mulvey said. “Every fall during our parent information night for incoming freshmen, we ask how many expect their child to attend college and complete a degree. Nearly every hand in the packed auditorium goes up. We then ask them to trust us and work with us to not just encourage a challenging and rigorous academic plan, but expect it.”
    Mulvey said the culture at Grain Valley is to not make advanced level courses exclusive to the top 5 or 10 percent of students. She said teachers and staff want all students to challenge themselves and learn that there will be struggles.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Our associate principal, Jeremy Plowman (who will be head principal next year), came to us with experience in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs. He has been the catalyst for changing the mindset at Grain Valley High School,” she said. “Taking rigorous Advanced Placement courses isn’t about the score on the test or the outcome. It is about the process – learning to study, identifying individual learning styles and thinking at deeper levels. Making the Newsweek list of Best High Schools is a validation of this philosophy and the incredible staff and students at Grain Valley.”
    Mulvey said she hopes the recognition confirms what people already believe about the Grain Valley School District – that the community is full of amazing potential, and the district is passionately committed to what is best for kids.
    “Our main goal is to prepare students for whatever they want to do after high school – college, work, military, etc.,” she said. “Everything we do focuses on that goal. We strive to maintain an environment of high expectations with multiple layers of support and options to fulfill their personal goals and dreams.”

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