U.S. News & World Report names Lexington-Richland 5 high schools some of best in SC

Watch Chapin principal react to surprise national award announcement

Chapin principal Akil Ross didn't know the assembly at was for him.
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Chapin principal Akil Ross didn't know the assembly at was for him.

Three of Lexington-Richland 5’s four high schools ranked in the top 15 high schools in South Carolina, according to 2019 rankings from the U.S. News and World Report, which were released Tuesday morning.

Spring Hill High in Chapin earned the third spot, while Dutch Fork High and Chapin High ranked 12 and 13 spots, respectively.

The U.S. News and World Report releases rankings of educational institutions each year. In 2019, the top high school in the United States was a South Carolina school: Academic Magnet High School in North Charleston.

Spring Hill High is a 7-year-old school in Chapin in the Lexington-Richland 5 school district, and has a population of 1,103 students.

The high school allows students to choose from five magnet programs: Engineering, entertainment, entrepreneurship, environmental studies and exercise science. Students then take classes in each of the “academies,” which are meant to help them find possible career paths. By organizing students into interest areas, principal Michael Lofton said, teachers can teach basic courses like English or math through a lens that’s more appealing to the group in the classroom.

“This recognition is a representation of the hard work, dedication and commitment to academic excellence by our teachers, students and staff,” Lofton wrote in an emailed statement. “I am proud of our Spring Hill family as we celebrate this awesome honor.”

Spring Hill has a computer-generated random lottery, so it offers courses to suit the needs of any student. The student population is 24 percent minority students and 18 percent “economically disadvantaged” students — the percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches.

The school also boasts a 95 percent graduation rate and high rates of students passing standardized tests — 80 percent of students passed at least one AP exam. The school was named by as one of the top 100 schools in the U.S., and it was recognized as a magnet school of distinction for three years in a row, according to a news release.

In 2018, Spring Hill was awarded a silver medal nationally, ranking 845 in the country, according to last year’s U.S. News & World Report. This year, Spring Hill High scored a 92 percent in mathematics proficiency and a 97 percent in reading proficiency. The school ranked 92 in magnet high schools in the country, 224 in U.S. STEM high schools and 507 in the national ranking of all public high schools.

Dutch Fork High in Irmo has 1,721 students enrolled, with 45 percent of those being minority students and 29 percent being economically disadvantaged. Dutch Fork received a 92.4 overall rating from the U.S. News and World Report, based on multiple factors including AP exam completion (57 percent) and passing rates (69 percent passed at least one AP exam), proficiency in math (86 percent) and reading (88 percent), as well as graduation rate (88 percent — which is about the state median for South Carolina).

Dutch Fork High also ranked at 170 in the list of top magnet high schools in the country. It ranked nationally in college readiness, college curriculum breadth, math and reading proficiency, math and reading performance and graduation rate.

“What a tremendous honor to be recognized as one of the nation’s top high school,” said Gerald Gary, principal of Dutch Fork High. “We have so much of which to be proud. Our Fox Family works tirelessly to create a challenging, but personalized learning environment which fosters self-worth and motivates the continual pursuit of lifelong learning and service to others.”

Chapin High, the school with the no. 13 ranking, has 1,314 enrolled students and a 17-to-1 ratio of students to teachers. Of the student population, 11 percent is made up of minority students and 12 percent is made up of economically disadvantaged students. The school received an overall score of 90.27 from U.S. News and World Report.

The school’s scorecard shows 60 percent of students took at least one AP exam and 65 percent of exam takers passed at least one exam. In addition, 80 percent of students are proficient in math and 91 percent are proficient in reading. The graduation rate at Chapin High is 92 percent.

Chapin High ranked nationally in college readiness, college curriculum breadth, math and reading proficiency, math and reading performance and graduation rate.

Principal Michael Ames said the school is “incredibly proud to receive this ranking and look forward to improving upon it in the following years,” according to an emailed statement.

Lexington-Richland 5 is home to four high schools, with about 5,600 enrolled students. The district superintendent is Christina Melton.

See all high school rankings

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Isabella Cueto is a bilingual multimedia journalist covering Lexington County, one of the fastest-growing areas of South Carolina. She previously worked as a reporter for the Medill Justice Project and WLRN, South Florida’s NPR station. She is a graduate of the University of Miami, where she studied journalism and theatre arts.