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April 24, 2015 - 4:29pm

Pembroke HS makes national list of 'most challenging' schools

posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, education, pembroke, Pembroke Central School District.

Press release:

Pembroke High School has made The Washington Post’s America’s Most Challenging High School List, published online this past Sunday.

Unlike Business First’s rankings, which consider a variety of factors in determining Western New York’s top schools, The Washington Post publishes a list of their top schools based on one factor, healthy Advanced Placement participation. If the number of students taking Advanced Placement tests is greater than the number of graduating seniors, the school makes the list.

Pembroke High School was able to meet the challenge by having 86 test takers last May with graduation for 67 seniors, an accomplishment that places Pembroke in the top 10 percent of all 22,000 high schools across America.

“We continue to embrace high expectations, and we do not shy away from challenging our students to the fullest,” stated Superintendent Matt Calderón. “We believe Pembroke students are fully capable to meet increased rigor in a variety of areas, and we are fortunate to have strong partnerships with parents and a community that also embraces that vision.

"When the NYS Commissioner of Education visited our District, it was our students that told him they wanted more rigorous and demanding coursework because they want to be prepared for life beyond high school; and they know the AP curriculum will give them a good taste of what their future holds in regard to college-level courses and career expectations.”

Ten years ago, Pembroke offered only two AP courses, Biology and Calculus AB, taken advantage of by 17 students. Now Pembroke offers AP English Literature, Psychology, Studio Art, U.S. History, World History, and Environmental Science. Music History and Physics were added for 2014-15 with a handful of students taking AP Computer Science through an online grant. For students who perform well on the AP exams, many colleges and universities offer college credit.

“No doubt, it is a lot of hard work but very rewarding when filling out that college application and vying for your school of choice. It can also be rewarding when entering college with 18 credits under your belt. That $546 investment translates to about $10,000 in savings at many of the colleges our students typically attend,” reported senior high school counselor and AP coordinator Toby Beahan.

According to high school Principal Keith Palmer, “If students want to challenge themselves, we try to provide the opportunities. We regularly work on developing an expectation with our students that a demanding and rigorous course load will be the best route in preparing for both college and career, especially during one’s senior year. And fortunately, we have talented teachers that are able to meet the challenge.”

Add to the mix student course-interest surveys, weighted grading for students who take on the challenge, recognition for students who score well, quality training for teachers, and you end up with healthy student participation in a quality AP program.

For more information about The Washington Post’s best high schools, visit http://apps.washingtonpost.com/local/highschoolchallenge/

Scott Birkby
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Congratulations to the Pembroke Central School District. Our children attended private school until about 11 years ago. After speaking with Mr. Calderon (a principal at the time), we switched our children to Pembroke. We couldn't have been more pleased. The quality of education is as good or better than private school. Our first two children were each able to accumulate almost a year of college credits while attending Pembroke schools. I have to say, that saved us more than a few bucks. Both of them were also accepted to extremely competitive colleges. Pembroke schools are a class act from top to bottom, congratulations once again.

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