Hill City High School receives national honor for academics, curriculum

RAPID CITY, S.D. — On Monday, a report ranking the top high schools in South Dakota was released with two West River schools in the top spots. Rapid City Stevens High School was just below Hill City, taking the top spot.

The U.S News and World Report releases a list every year for the top high school in each state.

This year, for the second time, Hill City High School was named the top school in the state. Hill City School District Superintendent Blake Gardner is proud of the accomplishment, but does not take any of the credit.

“We have a really great culture right now,” Gardner said. “We have intelligent kids, we have wonderful staff and we have really supportive parents and community members. We are all on the same team with the same goal.”

Hill City High SchoolThe study measures rankings based on criteria, such as state-testing proficiency and graduation rate. For Hill City, findings saw that over 60 percent of students reached proficiency levels across science, math and reading scores — with graduation rate at 97 percent.

But even with the high marks for the school, Gardner is also remaining positive to the public education landscape.

“These indicators favor us as a school district, but I think there is a lot of great things going on in public education right now. For us, obviously the advanced placement courses, and the success rates that we have there. Our proficiency at the state level testing favor us, but again, there’s great things in South Dakota public education,” Gardner explained. “You know, I look and Rapid City Stevens is the number two school. So, West River — we’re doing some really good things.”

And as he and the school district continue to keep the trend going, he is mindful of what it takes to run a good program.

“You can’t have good programming without great teachers and without smart kids, and that’s really the blueprint for us,” Gardner said. “We are all in with the same team and the same goal, and that’s the best education for our kids.”

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