GYPSUM - Eagle Valley High School is in the top 10 percent of high schools across the state and nation, in rankings released yesterday by US News and World Report.
Eagle Valley was ranked 38th of 458 Colorado high schools, and 2,160th of 21,035 high schools nationally. That earned the school a Silver Medal designation.
"It's a testament to the academic rigor we have at Eagle Valley and the motivation level of our students' desire to achieve," said Greg Doan, Eagle Valley principal.
Doan saw the report Wednesday morning when one of his parents spotted it. Of course, Doan and the student were pretty excited.
The US News calculations put more emphasis on the how a school's minority and disadvantaged students fare. Schools in affluent areas with largely white student populations might have had higher marks in some US News categories, but Eagle Valley was ranked higher.
Of Eagle Valley's 700 students, 30 percent are on the federally-subsidized free and reduced lunch program, the benchmark for measuring the percentage of disadvantaged students.
Ethnic minorities comprise 50 percent of Eagle Valley's population, according to school district data.
The schools ahead of Eagle Valley in the US News rankings tended to be either charter schools or larger schools in metropolitan areas.
Peak to Peak Charter School in Lafayette was Colorado's top-ranked high school. Telluride, Steamboat Springs and Palisade were the only Western Slope high schools ahead of Eagle Valley in the US News report.
On the other hand, in this year's Colorado School Grades rankings both Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain received average grades - a C. Battle Mountain was ranked 159th in Colorado; Eagle Valley was 188th.
US News also ranks colleges, as well as doctors, hospitals and all kinds of other things.
"Being a top 10 high school is a testament to the quality of our teachers," said Sandra Smyser, superintendent of Eagle County schools. "Our students are more diverse than most districts, yet our teachers ensure that all groups not only succeed, but do so on par with the top 10 percent in the state. They are phenomenal."
Smyser said she's proud of the teaching staff across the district.
"They continue to do great things and stay focused on the students even in the face of daunting changes in data tracking, curriculum changes, and general scrutiny," Smyser said.
Doan is keeping the honor in perspective. He smiled and pointed out that the school's rankings came out the same day that Eagle Valley's students are playing against the faculty and staff in a donkey basketball game. Both are important, but for different reasons, he said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.