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University Prep named No. 21 high school in CA, leading all local schools

VICTORVILLE, Calif. (VVNG.com) — The Victor Valley Union High School District earned the top two spots among local schools in the recently-released U.S. News & World Report Best High Schools rankings, with University Preparatory School leading all of San Bernardino County and landing just outside the top 20 in the state of California.

UP received its highest-ever U.S. News ranking at 21st in the state and 163rd in the nation. Basing its rankings on graduation rates and college readiness, the media outlet ranked UP as the top high school in the High Desert as well as best in the county and third in the greater Riverside-Ontario metropolitan area.

Cobalt Institute of Math & Science, another VVUHSD school, earned the second-best spot among local high schools at No. 153 in the state and 998 nationally. According to U.S. News, CIMS is ranked third-best in the county and fifth in the metro area. 

University Prep named No. 21 high school in CA, leading all local schools
(Cobalt Institute of Math & Science teacher Tramaine Washington teaches a math lesson. CIMS was recently ranked as the No. 3 high school in San Bernardino County.)

“To have two of the top three high schools in the county is a tremendous honor for our district,” VVUHSD Superintendent Carl Coles said. “It’s a credit to our staff and to our amazing students who have worked so hard in chasing their dreams, as well as the families who support them.”  

University Prep and CIMS, both serving grades 7-12, are the only local schools ranked in the top 200 statewide or the top 1,000 nationally.

University Prep named No. 21 high school in CA, leading all local schools
(University Preparatory School teacher Anna Lovato explains a lesson to student Jimarr Whitaker, bottom right, during an 11th-grade English class. UP was recently ranked as the No. 21 high school in the state. )

UP was founded 19 years ago with a focus on academic rigor and college readiness, and the school has accumulated numerous accolades including two National Blue Ribbon awards. Valerie Hatcher, principal of the school for nearly 18 years, says she is grateful for the No. 21 ranking, but she and her staff are always striving for more.

“The goal is always to be number one; that doesn’t ever go away,” Hatcher said. “We are always talking about, ‘Who are the top schools in the state of California?’ We look at their statistics, we look at what they are doing. We’ve even visited some of them. We look at what strategies they’re using so we can apply them here.”  

University Prep named No. 21 high school in CA, leading all local schools
(Cobalt Institute of Math & Science teacher Jared Nichols, left, poses outside the school with principal Dr. Clarissa McNally. CIMS was recently named the No. 3 high school in San Bernardino County.)

CIMS was established in 2013 with a focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and has partnered with nonprofit educational organization Project Lead the Way to create career pathways in engineering, biomedical engineering and computer science. PLTW has recognized CIMS with its Distinguished School award three times. 

“I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this amazing team at CIMS,” said Dr. Clarissa McNally, who is in her fifth year as the school’s Principal. “Regardless of position, everyone on this campus gives their best for our kids each day.” 

Rounding out the top five local schools in the state rankings were Academy for Academic Excellence (an Apple Valley charter school) at No. 300, Oak Hills High (Hesperia Unified School District) at 569 and Phelan’s Serrano High (Snowline Joint Unified) at 634.


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