According to a ranking by Niche.com, Petal High School was ranked the fourth best high school in the state of Mississippi.
Niche is a website that provides information about school districts across the country and publishes reviews for each.
For this specific rank, Niche took the following factors into consideration: state test scores, college readiness, graduation rates and ACT scores. In addition, parent and community reviews were also considered.
“We are very proud of the high school that we have,” Superintendent Matt Dillon said. “We are centered around academics with a strong arts emphasis. This creates a well-rounded student body. I’m very proud of results from them both in and outside of the classroom.”
Petal High School surpasses the state average in state testing scores and ACT scores.
Dillon said throughout the district, students do well through their preparation on state test assessments.
The average composite ACT score for juniors within Petal School District is 20.2, which is higher than the state average of 17.6. All juniors took the ACT at Petal High School April 19.
This is something Dillon said this is one way the school district helps students prepare and succeed with this particular testing.
Dillon said they are also rolling out ACT Aspire for middle school students in the district. This is a program to help students prepare for the ACT by looking specifically at those sub areas of the test. He said 10th and 11th grade students are also taking part in mastery prep to help them see where students are in those areas and where they could improve.
“This is where we can have conversations with students to see where they’re at and how we can help them improve,” Dillon said.
Graduation rate is another leading factor in ranking top high schools in the state.
Petal High School boasts an 86.7 percent graduation rate, but that is something Dillon said they are working to raise.
“Our graduation rate is steadily climbing,” Dillon said. “We are reaching the 90 percent mark.”
He said the teachers within the district are essential to students reaching graduation and beyond. “Our teachers work with students to prepare them not only for graduation, but also get them college and career ready.”
As far as college readiness, Dillon said teacher and student relationships and a strong foundation within the district is what helps students the most.
“From a district perspective we start working on that from pre K,” he said. “The goal is to provide a strong foundation, so when they get to high school they can work with those teachers.”
Dillon said this is what leads students to go on to be successful citizens and students in whichever field they choose to study.
This strong foundation within the district is also something Dillon said contributes to graduation rates. Petal School District boasts a 95 percent graduation rate for students who start school in the district from kindergarten.
“Petal has the hardest-working teachers I have ever met,” Dillon said.
Community involvement is also a contributing factor to the school district according to Dillon.
“It’s something I’ve never seen before,” he said. “It contributes to success, the fact that the community rallies around the school district. It’s something I’m proud to be a part of, and it’s what I want my kids to be a part of.”