The state released the latest FCAT scores for high schools last week and the top school in the state is located here in the Panhandle. In fact it’s the second time Northwest Florida State College's Collegiate High School has earned the top ranking in its 10-year history. It’s something staff and students are taking great pride in.
Mary Smith earned her high school diploma at the same time she collected enough credits to receive her Associate of Arts college degree. When she enrolled as a junior in her first semester at college, it was a shock to the admissions department.
"When I went down to Auburn as still a high school student, I told her everything about all the courses I’ve already taken. We talked about which courses I would not have to take and she said, ‘you're coming in with 60 credits!’--I was like 'yes'.
The charter school was ranked the top school in the state of Florida for the second time by the Florida Department of Education.
Senior Class President Alex Lin is not surprised by the school’s second honorable accolade.
"We've all worked hard and the students have all worked hard for this. We know why we're here and what we're in for, and what to expect. So I guess it's deserving".
The school is located on the Northwest Florida State College campus and open to public grades 10-12. Admission requirements are based on an aptitude test and 80% of the student body must have a 3.0 GPA.
But not all those accepted are top students.
Charla Cotton, director of Collegiate High says she believes it’s one of the school’s biggest misconceptions.
"We've had students with a 1.0 GPA which means that when they get here they don't even have enough to graduate high school” Cotton says.
But the school currently has a 100% graduation rate. That, as well as FCAT scores, learning gains, and at risk student achievement helped earn the top ranking.
"We give these students a mountain to climb and some of these students come with the tools already ready to climb the mountain; so we get out of their way and let them do so. Other students come without so many tools, and it's our job to help them get up that mountain--the thing we never do is lower the mountain" adds Cotton.
The school will be holding informational sessions in January for next year's enrollment. The priority application period begins in February. If you would like more information you can contact the high school directly at (850)729-4949 or visit their website at www.nwfcollegiatehigh.org