Two local schools named to Best High Schools list

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published August 31, 2016

CENTER LINE/STERLING HEIGHTS — Two local schools have been recognized among the best high schools in the state and across the nation.

U.S. News and World Report, a provider of service news and information that has a focus on education, recently announced that the Michigan Math and Science Academy ranked No. 80 on its annual Best High Schools list and Sterling Heights High School ranked No. 82. Schools were ranked based on their performance on state-required tests and how well educators prepare students for college.

The MMSA, located in Center Line, earned a silver medal. Nationwide, the MMSA — a college prep school that offers a kindergarten through 12th-grade curriculum — was ranked No. 2,101 among the best schools in the nation, according to the report.

The academy was recognized for having high student achievement and college readiness. Its total student enrollment is 465. The academy also offers mentoring, summer internships, and one-on-one assistance for student scheduling and college searches. 

“That was my dream, because that’s why we set standards for our school. Our graduation rates and participation in rigorous Advanced Placement courses weighed heavily in the ranking process,” MMSA Principal Oguzhan Yildiz said.

“This award we received shows we are on the right track. Eighty percent of our students come from low-income families,” Yildiz said. “We are trying to show them options for higher education. We try to challenge them with high-level courses. All of our efforts helping students go to college paid off.”

The MMSA, under the management organization Concept Schools, is a public charter school for any student in Michigan. The school’s main focus is on math, technology and science.

“There is data showing we need more engineers and doctors in these areas,” Yildiz said.

Yildiz said the MMSA students come from Warren, Detroit, Madison Heights, Roseville and Utica. The MMSA started in Hazel Park in 2009 and moved to Center Line in 2012.

SHHS is part of Warren Consolidated Schools. The school earned silver status and was ranked as the 2,137th best school in the nation. The school has an enrollment of 1,564 students and 125 staff members in instructional and non-instructional roles.

Along with the core curriculum, SHHS offers a full selection of AP courses, governing practices, media communications, visual and performing arts classes, band and physical education. The high school also is home to the Warren Consolidated School of Performing Arts program.

“Through the efforts of an outstanding staff and committed parents, Sterling Heights High School continues to be a great place for students to get an education. It is that simple,” WCS Superintendent Robert Livernois said in a prepared statement.

“One of the many qualifications for making the list was that our students performed better than expected on state accountability assessments. In order to accomplish this, the Sterling Heights High School staff is committed to the School Improvement Plan,” SHHS Principal Craig Miller stated in an email. “There have been teacher-driven initiatives to provide research-based strategies in reading and writing. We also provide rigorous coursework that helps prepare our students to be career- and college-ready. Most importantly, all Sterling staff — whether it be clerical, cooks, custodians, paraprofessionals, security, teachers, support staff, or administration — put students first.”

There is always room for improvement, however.

“While we are grateful for this prestigious distinction, we cannot rest on our laurels,” Miller said. “Our staff continues to work on delivering excellent instruction every day. We are always looking to support our students inside, as well as outside of the classroom.”

Kevin Griessel, Elizabeth Iljkoski and Xavier Whitacre are the high school’s assistant principals.