Hahnville High School was recently named one of the top schools in Louisiana for college preparation by U.S. News and World Report.
The study looked at all high schools in the state, including private, charter and public schools.
Out of those in the top 20, Hahnville, ranked at No. 14, was one of only a handful of open enrollment public high schools to make the list.
Principal Ken Oertling said the recognition was a testament to the hard work the school district as a whole puts into preparing students for life after graduation.
“We’re proud and it is really a district recognition. We’re very appreciative of the community and district support,” he said. “We’re ecstatic that we are recognized at that rank. We put a lot of emphasis on prepping kids for college or a career.”
Oertling said Hahnville has made it a mission to offer more opportunities for high schoolers to earn college credit through advanced placement courses. AP courses offer college-level curriculum to high school students, with many colleges giving credit to students who earn a three or higher in the course’s final exam.
“Each year we have improved and last year we were recognized in the top 10 percent of schools nationwide in AP enrollment and the number of students scoring a three or higher,” Oertling said.
Hahnville has been increasing the number of AP courses available for students each year, and next year there will be 20 AP courses for students to choose from. Oertling said the support from the St. Charles Parish School Board to fund such classes has been a large part of the school’s success.
“Every time you offer a new AP course you have to buy textbooks and materials. That has never been a problem for our School Board,” he said. “This just allows every student an opportunity to be challenged.”
In addition to increasing the school’s AP course offerings, Oertling said many other strategic steps have been taken to better prepare students.
“We’ve really focused on improving literacy across the curriculum in every subject. Our 11th grade class is really focused on preparing for the ACT and we are implementing school-wide initiatives and Common Core initiatives,” he said.
Rachel Allemand, assistant superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, said given the school system’s emphasis on providing college-level classes, a number of students have entered college with a nearly a full year of credit.
“I’ve known students that have almost started as sophomores their freshman year because that have accumulated so much AP credit ahead of time,” she said.
According to Allemand, Hahnville’s success comes down to the school pushing students to challenge themselves by taking on the AP level courses.
“I think part of the reason is that HHS had many more children enrolled in AP programs. If you have more children enrolled you are more likely to have children receive a three or higher,” she said. “Hahnville High School has been concentrating on recruiting students to take on AP for the past few years realizing it gives children a head start in college. They have done a nice job explaining to students and their parents how that can help them in the long run.”
In 2012, 61 percent of Hahnville’s graduates entered either two or four year colleges.
Allemand said while 61 percent is a great number, it does not account for all students who attend post-secondary schooling.
“That does not include those who go onto technical colleges such as South Central Louisiana Technical College in Reserve,” she said.