Beckman High School (Irvine 92602) Is A Top High School In Tustin Unified School District

california-distinguished-school12008 API = 826



Arnold O. Beckman High School (Irvine, CA 92602) opened in August 2004 with both ninth and tenth grade levels. Beckman became the third comprehensive high school in the Tustin Unified School District.


Beckman, located in the city of Irvine, rests in the heart of Orange County. Beckman services the residential communities of Tustin, Irvine, and Santa Ana.


Beckman’s student population has grown to over 1,950 and will graduate its first senior class in June of 2007. Beckman proudly educates a diverse ethnic and socioeconomic community. This community is an active and supportive one with tremendous involvement in the school’s many support organizations.


Western Association of schools and Colleges (WASC)

National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC)

NACAC Statement of Principles of Good Practice.


The mission of Beckman High School is to produce students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post secondary education by pursuing the most rigorous course of study resulting in achievement inside and outside the classroom.


This philosophy emphasizes connecting students to school through the disciplines of academics, athletics, arts, and activities. Evidence of Beckman’s commitment to this philosophy can be seen in the number of students participating in athletics, the arts, and activities program. Currently over 70% of the students are involved in the school’s extra and co-curricular programs.



Cypress 90630 Is Home To Cypress High School, #8 Public High School In Orange County


2008 API = 843

Cypress High School (Cypress 90630) has achieved a strong API score of 844 – rocketing up from 735 three years earlier. The strong emphasis on academics has paid off. This year, Cypress High But school leaders are even more proud of the fact that Cypress was the only school in the state to achieve the benchmark score of 800 among all state-identified student “subgroups” as well, including Asian, whites, Hispanics, English learners and those identified as being in a low socio-economic group.

#1 in Similar Schools Comparison in Orange County

Orange County Register Top Ten High School

Rank #8 of 63

Top 3% of High Schools in California

in Achievement on California Standards Test

Top 3% of Schools in America U.S. News and World Report

Top 5% of Schools in America Newsweek Magazine

Only High School in California with 6 Demographic

Subgroups Scoring over 800 on State Testing


“Sometimes we tend to overthink education. Here we have a very simple plan,” Carpenter said. “We map out what we should be teaching based on state standards and always work to tighten the process throughout the year.”

Longtime teacher Skip Loomis, who has been at Cypress since its first year 36 years ago, said there’s a new spirit around campus since Carpenter arrived four years ago.

Diversity is celebrated. And the renewed focus on academics has in no way diminished participation in arts and athletics.

This year, the Cypress varsity football team captured its first-ever CIF title. The number of student cultural and special interest clubs has risen to 35, including the Polynesian Club and a videographers club. The culinary arts program is bursting at the seams.

“Students have five periods of academics to keep up with mandated standards,” Carpenter said. “But that leaves two more periods for digital photography, foreign language, athletics and other arts.”

Senior Lynn Tran, 17, said she transferred to Cypress from her home in Garden Grove because of its balance of academics and arts.

“Here I feel colorblind, like there aren’t cliques,” Tran said. “I’m Asian, but at Cypress I feel like I’m just Lynn.”

(Excerpts from OC Register)

Santa Ana 92701 Features Orange County High School of the Arts (OCHSA), #6 Rated Public High School In Orange County

API = 872
Orange County High School of the Arts OCHSA (Santa Ana, CA 92701) is located in the heart of downtown Santa Ana since 2000 and attracts more than 1,300 students in grades seven through 12. Students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA to remain enrolled.
The school currently serves a culturally diverse student body of more than 1,350 students from 92 cities throughout Southern California in grades 7-12. The academic faculty is fully credentialed, and the majority of the 200 arts and academic teachers hold advanced degrees. They are dedicated and supportive professionals who help students develop the skills necessary to succeed in higher education, or a profession in the arts. Guest artists and industry leaders also share their expertise and creativity with students through lectures, presentations, and hands-on training.
The Orange County High School of the Arts provides a rigorous college preparatory academic program aligned to the California State Standards. Students attend approximately five hours of academic classes in addition to three hours of daily arts instruction. Students maintain a school-wide Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.16, with the senior class averaging a 3.47 GPA. More than 33 percent of the junior and senior classes earn a 4.0 GPA or higher. The school also offers twelve advanced placement classes.

Offering one of the most demanding and intensive academic programs in Southern California, the school has been ranked in the top ten percent of high schools in the State of California, and is one of the top five highest ranking high school academic programs in Orange County, based on an Academic Performance Index (API) test score of 868. In 2005, the Orange County High School of the Arts was the only school in Orange County with 100% of its students to pass the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE).

Some 92 percent of graduating seniors from OCHSA move on to four-year colleges. The school achieved an 856 API score and a 1661 average on the SAT.

Opacic founded the school in 1987 with 125 students on the campus of Los Alamitos High School. It moved to Santa Ana with 400 students in 2000 and became a charter school within the Santa Ana Unified School District. Enrollment has since more than tripled.

The school offers 11 specific arts conservatories, including dance, creative writing, film, opera, instrumental music and visual arts.

Students pay no tuition, relying on donations from a private foundation. That, along with the school’s reputation for nurturing the creative spirit, has helped attract students from 92 cities across four counties.

English and literature teacher Pam Smith understands that students come to the school for the arts. Teachers are willing to work around performance schedules, but that doesn’t mean they go easy on academics.

(Excerpts from OC Register)



Irvine 92604 Is Home To Irvine High School, #5 Ranked High School In Orange County, Located In Greentree Community


API = 848

Irvine High School (Irvine, CA 92604) opened in 1976 in a mostly residential neighborhood opposite the Greentree community. Being one of four comprehensive high schools in the Irvine Unified School District, it currently supports a student enrollment of 2050.

It was named a California Distinguished School by the State Board of Education and received the highest award for Excellence in Education from the U. S. Department of Education.

Additionally, in 1994, the Accrediting Commission for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges awarded Irvine High a full six-year term of accreditation under the Pursuing Excellence format.

Classrooms are housed in single-story buildings with indoor hallways, and all buildings converge on an outdoor quad area in the center of campus. Irvine High also earned the highest score for school environment and culture among the Register’s Top 10-ranked schools and fourth highest overall.

Administrators and teachers credit a targeted intervention strategy that emphasizes personal ethics and the development of well-rounded citizens.

This recipe for success is emblazoned on a painted mural inside the school’s practice gym that reads, “Integrity, Honesty, Social responsibility,” creating the acronym IHS – not coincidently the school’s initials.

“It’s a very accepting, gentle school,” Principal Monica Colunga said as she watched students walk through campus on a recent school day. “You set the tone right away in the ninth grade – we have certain expectations founded in our values, and the students rise to the occasion.”

The strategy ensures a majority of students on the campus take ownership of their educational experience. So many of the students have been molded around a model of tolerance and respect, in fact, that students from rougher schools who transfer here are typically transformed themselves, Colunga said.

Added 15-year-old freshman Min’ka Lewis: “It’s easier to get along with different varieties of people here. You feel safe and comfortable – everyone cares about you.”

Every student at the school is paired with a faculty mentor who stays with the student all four years.

During 10-minute homeroom periods three days a week, students meet with their mentors to discuss everything from their course loads to problems at home. The mentors also meet with the students’ parents each year during a mandatory conference.

“Our students really trust us because they feel they have a teacher who’s their friend, not giving them a grade,” said social science teacher Terry Griffin, who has been at the school for 29 years. “Students don’t have as many opportunities to fall through the cracks. We know their families, and they have an intimate relationship with us.”

Because classes are challenging, Irvine High has worked hard to offer as many diversions as possible. The school operates on a complex “blended block” schedule that allows students to enroll in eight classes each semester, not including zero period. Some classes meet daily; others meet every other day. The schedule gives many students ample time to participate in performing arts and athletics, Colunga said.


(Excerpts from OC Register)


Irvine 92612 Has "University High School", Orange County’s #3 Rated High School

2008 API = 897
University High (Irvine, CA 92612) is a comprehensive high school in Orange County, California with an enrollment of 2,476 students. The school’s 55 acre campus is in close proximity to several institutions of higher learning, including the University of California, Irvine, Concordia University and Chapman University.
It is in the Irvine Unified School District.
It’s the oldest and most highly regarded of Irvine’s four public high schools, and it consistently earns its reputation through award-winning academic competition teams, dozens of National Merit Finalists each year, and top-notch arts and music programs.
In addition, University High School is the home of the Orange County Deaf and Hard of Hearing program with an enrollment of 103 students who fully participate in the school’s academic, athletic and activities programs. Ninety-six percent of University High School graduates enter post-secondary educational programs
University is not a magnet school or a charter school; in fact, virtually all students live within its attendance boundaries, and the only way for a student at another Irvine Unified school to transfer into the school is if a University student transfers out.

The school consists of a collection of one-story, tan-brick buildings spread out across 55 grassy acres in a mostly residential enclave of Irvine’s Turtle Rock community. The school’s motto is “Unity through diversity” – reflecting its multicultural student body and its role as host to a county program for about 115 deaf and hearing-impaired students.

The concentration of academically talented students has created a highly competitive environment.

“There are so many intelligent kids in your class that the teacher can’t give everyone an A, so it’s about striving for the good grade,” said 17-year-old senior Jacob Choi, who will attend Vanderbilt University this fall. “But the competition definitely causes you to strive for excellence – it’s not a negative environment.”

While the school’s curriculum is designed to appeal to all students, including those less academically inclined, tremendous resources have been invested into helping the best and brightest excel, Principal John Pehrson said.

Classes are taught at a higher intellectual level than average, and teachers are encouraged to constantly find ways to challenge their top students.

“My teachers are able to go way beyond the standards and have really engaging activities and discussions in class,” Pehrson said. “It’s a cycle – the kids allow the teachers to go deeper, and the teacher trains the kids to be better thinkers. It gets to the point where there’s no limit to what the kids can learn and do.”

The competitive environment also encourages average and struggling students to achieve at higher levels





Fullerton, CA 92831 Is Home To "Troy High School", #2 Rated Orange County Public High School


 2008 API = 917 (Out of 1000)


21st Century National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence 

California Distinguished High School

New American High School National Showcase Site

28th Best High School in America, Newsweek (May 2008)

#1 AP Computer Science Program in the World, AP Report to the Nation (2005 – 2008)

 Troy High School (Fullerton, CA 92831) is a technology magnet that attracts students from across Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Some have even tried to make the commute from San Diego.

Troy High School is a comprehensive four-year public high school in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District. Located next to California State University, Fullerton, Troy offers unique high-level educational opportunities to students from over 100 junior high schools in four Southern California counties: Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside. Troy’s most celebrated program is Troy Tech, a Specialized Secondary Magnet Program in Math, Science and Technology, which was founded in 1986 under California Education Code 58800. This and the pre-university International Baccalaureate Program set the high academic standards of the school and have attracted local, state, and national attention to Troy.

When Troy High School held its recruitment day this year, guidance counselors capped participation at 80 universities. That’s Troy’s reputation for success.

“Students here know they are going to college,” said Maria Williams, Troy’s guidance technician. “Our biggest task is letting students know that there is life outside the Ivy League.”

Troy has won national acclaim, most notably for its Science Olympiad team, which for seven of the last 14 years has captured the national title in an event that tests written and practical knowledge of chemistry, engineering and other sciences.

But Troy also has won acclaim for its dance team – national champions, too. And for its NJROTC military studies program, and for numerous athletic titles.

“We take pride in the Four A’s at Troy – academics, athletics, arts and activities,” said Priscilla Cheney, student adviser at Troy. “It’s all important to our students.”

The origins of Troy’s reputation can be traced back more than two decades, when a study commissioned by President Ronald Reagan presented a gloomy picture of a nation failing to properly train its students for the future.

Troy, located in the heart of a city that calls itself “The Education Community,” responded by applying for a grant and starting The Troy Tech program. The magnet curriculum set out to train students in math, science, engineering and high technology.

Only a handful of kids enrolled when the program began in 1986, and it grew slowly during the first decade. When the school started winning national recognition in the late 90s, interest in the program “spread like a wildfire,” Cheney said.

Today, nearly half of Troy’s 2,550 students come from outside of its attendance boundaries. Students must test to get into the Troy Tech program.

“It’s not cut-throat here,” said senior Saumya Gurbani, 17. “But with some of the smartest kids around you, there’s going to be friendly competition.”

The technology magnet program has attracted young, enthusiastic teachers who want to be part of an exciting new concept in education, Cheney said.

Engineering instructor Kent Goodman came to Troy to teach after 12 years as a professional engineer. He said he’s constantly tweaking his curriculum to ensure students are challenged.

Cypress 90630 Boasts Orange County’s #1 Rated Public High School, Oxford Academy, And #2 In Nation According To U.S. News And World Report

2008 API = 983 (Out of 1000)
  • U.S. News and World Report’s 2008 High School Rankings, Oxford Academy has been ranked the second-best high school in the nation. The ranking is based on “college-readiness,” percentage of students taking advanced exams, and average pass rate on AP tests.

Oxford was ranked 4th in the same “Gold Medal” index for 2007.

Oxford Academy (Cypress, CA 90630) is a seventh through twelfth grade college preparatory public school, which opened in September of 1998. Recognized as a California Distinguished School and as one of the top ten high schools in the U.S. by Newsweek and US News and World Report, Oxford Academy draws students from the entire attendance area of the Anaheim Union High School District. Oxford, a magnet school for Anaheim Union, tops the Register’s “Orange County’s Best High Schools,” a first-ever ranking of the county’s comprehensive public high schools.

Recognized as a California Distinguished School in 2004 – 2005 and as a special interest school. OA’s current enrollment is 1126 students, and in 2003, it graduated its first class of 120 seniors. The campus is ethnically and socio-economically diverse with a student body consisting of 59% Asian, 15% white, 14% Latino, 11% Filipino/Pacific Islander, and 1% black students. Almost 20% of OA students participate in the Free/Reduced Lunch program. “It’s a wonderful compliment to our students, staff and families to be considered No. 1,” Scott said. “It puts a lot of responsibility on us not to get complacent and continue to strive for greater things. We are proud, but we are not a perfect school.” When leaders of the Anaheim Union High School District came up with the concept for the college-preparatory school in 1998, they envisioned a campus where top students would be challenged and groomed for the country’s top universities.

A decade later, Oxford Academy – which teaches students in grades seven through 12 – is surpassing nearly all expectations.

Last year, 99 percent of eligible students took the state’s primary college-entrance exam – the SAT – and an equal number qualified to enter a California State University or a University of California level school. The school was recognized this year by Newsweek magazine as the fourth best school in the nation.

Located on a 20-acre campus in Cypress, Oxford has no attendance boundaries. Instead, it is open to the top 25 students from each of the district’s eight junior high schools – candidates who must still pass an admissions test and, once in, maintain a minimum grade-point average.

The school is also about more than academics. In recent years, Oxford has gained attention for its music, choral and theater programs. The school now competes in nearly ever major sport, except football.

Still, the focus is academics. Oxford this year boasted the highest API score in the county.

So with so many high achieving students, teachers here must be spoiled?

“Wrong,” said history teacher Fabiana Maench-Casanova.

“I’ve never worked so hard as I have here,” she said. “You’ve got to work hard to keep up with these students and continue to challenge them.

“We may be spoiled in the sense that we don’t have discipline problems like other schools, but we have other challenges so that we don’t lose their attention.”