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Clark Fork High School again named one of the nation's top small schools

For the second year in a row Clark Fork High School has been named as one of our nation’s best high schools by US News and World Report magazine. Last year, school staff and community members were thrilled with the Bronze medal recognition the school earned. Earning it for a second year in a row is a tremendous accomplishment and demonstrates that staff are building a strong system that will only improve.  Only 20 high schools were named from Idaho, with Coeur d’ Alene Charter Academy earning a Gold medal and Boise Senior High School earning the Silver.

To earn a medal a high school must meet three criteria. These include a College Readiness Index, Overall Student Performance Index, and Disadvantaged Student Performance Index. Gold medal status is accorded when a school is considered one of the top 100 schools nationally, based upon the College Readiness Index, which focuses on Advanced Placement class opportunities, success rate on AP tests or the International Baccalaureate program. Silver medal status is also accorded on the College Readiness Index, but a school ranking beyond 100. Bronze medal status is given to schools that do not offer Advanced Placement classes or the International Baccalaureate program so therefore do not meet the College Readiness Index, but do meet the other two key performance indicator criteria.

As a small high school, Clark Fork does not offer the IB or AP classes to be eligible for the Gold or Silver medals, but does an excellent job of helping all students, regardless of economic background, be successful academically. For this reason alone, they are deserving of the award.

Under the leadership of Principal Phil Kemink, a strong and dedicated teaching staff, and a supportive parent community, Clark Fork High School is proving that students can succeed in school despite economic status. It is schools like Clark Fork that are changing the way in which expectations for students are evolving. For many years it was felt that students who came from homes where family income was low would struggle in school. This is not the case as has been shown repeatedly in our district. All of our students are filled with great potential and when the schools they attend are determined to provide them meaningful learning experiences, they will find success.

It is worth noting that Clark Fork was selected by criteria designed by US News and World Report. There was no application process or written letters of recommendation. The magazine simply looked at student test results, economics of the community, and course offerings. Consequently, despite what some might perceive as flaws in the selection process, their recognition is well earned.

 It is not just Clark Fork High School that is providing these meaningful learning experiences. Throughout the Lake Pend Oreille School District students are demonstrating their willingness to learn and focusing upon their future. Student test scores are strong and improving. Curriculum is being implemented that is research based. Strong teachers are doing what they do best: teaching children the essential skills for success. Parents and students are recognizing that our resource-based economy is shifting and that these skills learned in school are critical to their economic future.

For now, I am proud to recognize the school and community of Clark Fork.  The next time you encounter one of the students or staff from Clark Fork Junior-Senior High, offer them the wel-earned congratulations they deserve. We are proud of you and share in your success.

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Author info

Dick Cvitanich Dick Cvitanich is the Superintendent of Schools for the Lake Pend Oreille School District. He has been an educator for 33 years, and became superintendent for LPOSD in 2006. He was educated at the University of Washington where he earned a BA in History and a Superintendent's Credential. He has been married to Diane for 32 years and they have raised three sons who "taught us as much as we taught them." "I have a passion for public education and the role it plays in our democracy. In my free time I read, ski ... come to think of it, I don't have that much free time."

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