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)


Tustin 92782 Is Home To Pioneer Middle School, Honored As 2008 National Blue Ribbon School


2008 API = 936 

“Validated by the U.S. government is a great honor,” said Mike Mattos, the principal at Pioneer, where the API has increased by 70 points over the past four years.


“We have made a commitment that we did not just want to be a good school, we wanted to be a great school for all kids,” he said.  (Orange County Register)



Pioneer Middle School opened in the fall of 1999, the first new middle school in the Tustin Unified School District in over 25 years. The opening of Pioneer greets the new millennium with designs and built-in technologies that make it one of the finest middle school facilities in the nation.

Middle school sets the stage for a student’s future as an adult. It is a critical link to the student’s successful transition to high school and higher education. Pioneer teachers and support staff work in partnership to provide a rigorous and challenging curriculum. To meet the developmental needs of students, we provide a core of standards-based curricula in reading/language arts, mathematics. history/social science, science, and physical education. Both instruction and instructional materials are state-of-the-art grounded in research-based practices.

The curriculum of Pioneer Middle School encourages students to become inquisitive learners, to grasp a wide variety of academic skills, and to become productive young adults. Pioneer students meet high expectations in today’s basic skills of reading/language arts, mathematics, science, social science, and to read, write, and speak clearly, persuasively and appropriate, and also listen actively. Pioneer provides programs for special needs students and for students at-risk of retention. GATE/honors classes, high school level of algebra, geometry, and foreign language classes are offered. Students may also choose an elective curriculum that includes computer technology, video production, drama, art, music, industrial technology, consumer education, publishing, and leadership.

Students, staff, and parents are actively involved in school activities. Parents are partners in the middle school experience and are encouraged to take advantage of the many opportunities for them to participate. Pioneer Middle School continues the Tustin tradition of a community rich in heritage and committed to excellence. Pioneer is proud of the place it has taken the greater Tustin community.

Pioneer Middle School, a 2003 and 2007 California Distinguished School and National Blue Ribbon School finalist, is an exciting learning community where every student has amazing opportunities for achievement. When Pioneer students enter their campus, they find beautiful state-of-the-art classrooms and a warm welcoming staff. A robust array of activities inside and outside the classroom makes every student feel important and connected to the school.

Set in the beautiful Tustin Ranch, our school has an award-winning design that sets the stage for learning and fun. The central quad is where students gather before, during, and after school. Throughout the day, you can feel the energy and spirit of our 1,325 Pioneer Wildcats in this safe, supervised area. Our classrooms, computer lab and A/V facilities offer learning tools that were unavailable just a few years ago. Other facilities at Pioneer include immaculately maintained sports fields and a track, along with a 17,000 square foot gymnasium – the focal point of our best in class athletic program, which is a finalist for the Governor’s Challenge Fitness Award.

Our staff is distinguished by their subject matter expertise, professionalism and dedication to teaching. As a group, we constantly challenge each other to create a community of learners and to find ways to maximize every student�s academic potential and personal responsibility. Our high test scores reflect the staff’s dedication: the school’s API report shows steady and sustained growth in student achievement. The overall 2006 API score increased by 8 points, going from a base of 915 in 2005 to 923 in 2006. This is among the top 1% of California schools. Our CST and STAR scores reflect similar phenomenal levels of student achievement.

Our school’s top-tier academic performance is not based purely on excellence of academic instruction. We believe having a strong school culture makes the difference between good and great student achievement. That’s why everyone at Pioneer talks about “The Pioneer Way” and why character education is woven into all our activities, inside and outside the classroom. This year, our students’ outstanding community service projects have been recognized through a Milken Family Festival for Youth Award. At Pioneer, caring for each other and our community is part of becoming responsible young adults.

Pioneer is truly a special place to learn and to be a part of a vibrant, exciting community. I am extremely proud to be a part of the success of this wonderful place.

Mike Mattos , Principal



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.”