Hollidaysburg listed as challenging high school

Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School has earned a spot on the Washington Post’s America’s Most Challenging High Schools list.

“We are so excited and proud to receive this recognition,” Assistant Senior High School Principal Brian Keagy said.

“This honor is a true testament to the high quality education that is provided by a very dedicated and committed teaching staff and an administration that recognizes the importance of a well-rounded educational experience for all students,” he said.

The Washington Post compiled data by dividing the number of college-level tests a school gave in 2012 by the number of graduating seniors that year. Researchers said the data can reveal the level of a high school’s commitment to preparing average students for college.

Hollidaysburg graduated 258 students in 2012, and the same number of students, including underclassmen, took College Boards exams to earn college credits after completing Advanced Placement courses.

Caleb Gildea, a 2012 Hollidaysburg graduate and current Penn State freshman, said taking AP courses in high school accelerated his college career. The credits he earned while in high school allowed him to save time and money spent on general education classes in college.

“It is definitely a benefit in that you can test out of some general education classes that you would have to take in college,” he said.

Transcripts showing that a student took an AP class indicate the student has a strong work ethic, said Cathy Schwab, Penn State director of admission services and education.

“It’s a wonderful transition to college,” she said. “The AP courses are more rigorous. You can’t correlate test scores to success in college, but students who challenge themselves and continue to challenge themselves set themselves up for the rigors of college.”

To enroll in an AP course, students must have prerequisite courses completed and pass a screening test to ensure they can be successful, Keagy said.

Nine percent of approximately 22,000 public high schools in the United States earned placement on the Washington Post researchers’ list.

Hollidaysburg was the only local school on the list, which included 28 schools in Pennsylvania and 1,900 nationwide.

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435