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Led by Flintridge Prep, local schools shine in Newsweek STEM school rankings

Best STEM high schools graphic
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(Steve Greenberg)

Foothill area campuses enjoyed quite a showing on Newsweek magazine’s latest rankings of the top 5,000 schools focused on science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

All six comprehensive high schools in the La Cañada and La Crescenta communities were ranked, while Flintridge Prep took the highest spot locally at No. 226.

La Cañada High School followed at No. 298, with Clark Magnet, No. 707, Crescenta Valley, No. 919, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, No. 1,029, and St. Francis, No. 1,861, all placing in the top half of schools in the ranking.

The rankings were compiled by Newsweek and STEM.org, an educational advocacy group, and released Friday — which was National STEM day.

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Newsweek said of its ranking methodology, “We found schools in every region of the country that offer skilled teachers who keep up with developments in these fields and who create dynamic learning environments to engage their students.”

Flintridge Prep, which is hosting an open house on Sunday, adds art to STEM for a STEAM curriculum that also boasts interdisciplinary studies that mix subjects such as physics and math with art.

“We are gratified by the recognition from Newsweek because so many people across the science and arts departments have worked expansively and creatively to make our STEAM program a success,” said Peter Bachmann, Flintridge Prep headmaster, in a statement. “This is truly a validation of the hard work of our faculty.”

Nearby, La Cañada High followed up on its strong U.S. News & News World Ranking from April, when it placed 26th in California and 218th in the nation, by taking No. 298 nationally in STEM rankings.

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“What these rankings demonstrate is not only the achievement of our students but the excellence of our faculty,” La Cañada principal Jim Cartnal said.

Cartnal said he was proud of the rising attendance numbers at the high school’s annual science fair and also spoke of awards won by La Cañada students at the Los Angeles County Science Fair.

Clark Magnet and Crescenta Valley highs in La Crescenta were ranked in the top 3% to 4% of high schools nationally by U.S. News & World Report in April, lauded by state Supt. Tony Thurmond for exemplary programs in arts education, career-technical education or physical activity or nutrition in March and named California Distinguished Schools in February.

“This means a lot to me, and it’s a prestigious honor,” Clark Magnet principal Lena Kortoshian said. “We all know that Clark has a strong STEM program, with physics teachers preparing students for engineering courses and math and science teachers contributing.”

Photo Gallery: Flintridge Prep 2015 graduation ceremony
All six comprehensive high schools in the La Cañada and La Crescenta communities were ranked, while Flintridge Prep took the top spot at No. 226. Flintridge Prep headmaster Peter Bachmann credited his school’s students and faculty for the school’s top ranking.
(File Photo)

One of those instructors, Dominique Evans-Bye, was honored last month by Donald Trump with one of 15 national Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.

Crescenta Valley High also boasts several high-achieving STEM programs, such as robotics and computer science.

“My teachers are passionate, and invest so much lighting the fire of curiosity and skill in our students,” Crescenta Valley principal Linda Junge said in an email.

“From tenured faculty members like Greg Neat (computer science) to new hires like Brandon Rodriguez (physics/chemistry), this award is a testament of CV teachers’ professional commitment to students,” she added.

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Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy followed at No. 1,029.

“We’re proud of this award and one of our distinguishing characteristics is that we actually have a computer science and engineering department, which is only two years old and was created in response to our girls’ desire to explore those areas,” said Sherrie Singer, FSHA assistant principal for curriculum and instruction.

One distinctive class, honors scientific research, is taught by Caltech-trained Liz Krider, capped at eight to nine students per semester, and focuses on biotechnology and biochemistry.

St. Francis, perhaps best known for its award-winning sports medicine program, rounded out the area rankings by placing No. 1,861.

“This is all about our students and their success in science, technology, engineering and math,” St. Francis principal Tom Moran said. “Certainly our students deserve the bulk of credit, but so do our faculty members in those departments.”

Moran also spoke highly of the school’s robotics program, which has “garnered significant tournament victories.”

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