Folsom High honored by Newsweek

School ranked No. 204 out of 1,000 in magazine’s “The Best High Schools in America” issue
By: Laura Newell Telegraph staff writer
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Even through a difficult economic time with layoffs and budget cuts, Folsom High School recently received high national recognition. In its annual “The Best High Schools in America” issue, Newsweek Magazine named Folsom High School number 204 out of more than 1,000 public high schools studied. “Last year we were number 1,638 – huge progress,” said principal Kathryn Allaman. “This is a tremendous honor.” According to Stephen Nichols, spokesman for the Folsom Cordova Unified School District, attributing to that jump is likely the augmented criteria that Newsweek uses to rank the best schools in the country — a change that occurred just this year. The new criteria has six components: graduation rate (25 percent), college matriculation rate (25 percent), and AP tests taken per graduate (25 percent), plus average SAT/ACT scores (10 percent), average AP/IB scores (10 percent), and AP courses offered per graduate (5 percent). “Folsom High School has kept achieving positive recognition during this economic difficulty,” Nichols said. “They are a testament that no matter what we are going through, we will keep doing well.” Nichols said this news comes after the close of a “banner year” for Folsom High School. Academically, students continue to excel, sending 82 percent of its graduates to California colleges and universities. This is the second highest percentage in Sacramento County, Nichols said. Also, Folsom High School’s Academic Decathlon team has been the county’s defending champion for the past two years. “We have some of the highest (ranking) students in the county,” Nichols said. “I think what sets Folsom High School apart from other high schools and what is unique to that school, is how much rigor these students have.” In terms of extra curricular activities, students are also striving for excellence. This year, Downbeat Magazine ranked Folsom High School’s Jazz Band as the No. 1 High School Big Band in the nation. The band has earned this honor eight times since 1993, Nichols said. The Folsom High Jazz Choir was also top-ranked in Downbeat Magazine for 14 consecutive years. On the football field, students also scored. The Bulldogs lost their season opener to the Grant Pacers in front of a sold out crowd and viewers nationwide as they were featured on “ESPN’s High School Rise Series.” The defeat, however, was the only one for the Bulldogs for the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs, including a victorious rematch against the Pacers. Folsom then defeated Serra High School to win the Division II state championship. “In my opinion, Folsom High as an educational institution, the band, the choir, the football team and all the athletic teams, is one of the best high schools I’ve ever seen,” said Folsom High varsity football coach Kris Richardson. “We’ve got so many great programs. We’ve got the best principal that I’ve ever worked for, a fantastic teaching staff and supportive parents and all that makes Folsom High a special place.” Students say they also appreciate their school’s accomplishment. “It shows all the hard work that we put in,” said Jordan Alleva, senior and Folsom football player. He was starting offensive lineman on last year’s state title team. Allaman is already looking forward to the next school year and plans to increase students’ achievements. “We are excited to implement our newly designed Global Program Studies in the next school year,” Allaman said. “There really is no other program like it.” According to Nichols, the Global Program Studies is a magnet program that connects global perspectives with global experiences through the infusion of an international studies curriculum. Students will be engaged in coursework that will inspire them to think not only critically, but also globally. “Parents have many options to choose from when selecting a school for their students,” Nichols said. “Folsom High School is a perfect example of a school culture that is already familiar with great success, yet continues to redesign its programs to meet the competitive environment that public schools must operate in.” Allaman created a program advisory board consisting of businesses and institutions with global operations and perspectives. Intel Corporation, UC Davis and California State University Sacramento are among the first members of the GPS Program’s advisory board and eager to share their global experiences with the students of Folsom High School, Nichols said. The GPS program will begin in the fall of 2011. For more information, visit ~ Sports editor Matt Long contributed to this report.