KEENE VALLEY - Keene Central School District has one of the best high schools in the country, according to a recent ranking of America's schools.
Keene Central was listed as the 125th best high school in the country by The Daily Beast. The online news journal used a few categories to rank the schools including graduation and college acceptance rates, college-level classes and tests, and SAT and ACT scores.
Keene's graduation rate is 100 percent, and its college-bound student population is 92.9 percent, according to The Daily Beast.
Keene Central School students smile as they work at a “stream table” during an earth science lab.
(Photo — Keene Central School)
The district had 168 students last year.
The school's third- through eighth-grade students also did exceptionally well on their English language arts and math assessments, in the second year of the state's Common Core testing. The district's proficiency rating was one of the highest in the region. For the English tests, 56 percent scored in the top two levels - there are four levels, and the upper two are considered proficient - and 61 percent in math. Those results are up for the district, an 8 percent increase in English and 24 percent in math. Schools in the region typically had percentages in the 20s.
New Keene Superintendent Dan Mayberry, a principal there for two years, said most teachers in the district are teaching to the Common Core modules, but they were given the freedom to decide if that's what they wanted to do. He was happy with the test scores.
"I'm pleased that our students are progressing in a nice way, and those scores are just one component of that." Mayberry said. "Looking across the tri-county area of Clinton, Essex and Franklin, we are doing very well in the area, and it's taken a lot of hard work on the part of my teachers to get our students to this point."
"One of the things I've focused on since coming to Keene is to have our teachers do more and make deeper connections," Mayberry continued. "That's ultimately what it comes down to. Make those deeper connections to use that information in more complicated ways."
Kathy Regan, president of Keene Central School Board of Education, said she was proud of school, students and faculty.
"We are proud that our school has been recognized for the gem that it is," Regan wrote in an email. "Our 100 percent graduation rate is a testament to the dedication of the faculty and staff as well as to our entire community. Keene Central School does an excellent job ensuring every child succeeds."
A parent with two children in the school wasn't very surprised by the news that Keene scored so well when asked. Michael Finsterer, of Jay, has two ninth-grade sons in Keene Central School. He and his wife decided to put their twin sons, Antonio and Azrael, in the school because of its reputation of academic success.
"It's a very high-rated school. My kids have been flourishing academically," Finsterer said. "They're really caring and dedicated (teachers). They go above and beyond for the needs of the students."