The Cheshire cat-like grins on the faces of faculty, students and staff at four Sarasota County District schools Tuesday were no mystery, thanks to the statewide publication of school rankings by the Florida Department of Education.
Pine View School in Osprey, which draws academically gifted students from all over the county, sat atop the rankings for schools combining multiple grades, including high-school classes. Its approximately 2,200 students are in second through 12th grades.
Sarasota School of Arts & Sciences was ranked 12th on the list of 583 middle schools meeting FDE criteria; Sarasota Middle School was ranked 16th.
Laurel Nokomis School, in Nokomis, which has about 1,100 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, ranked 10th for schools combining elementary and middle grades.
“We’re excited to be the No. 1 middle school in Sarasota,” SSAS Principal Marilyn Highland said Tuesday.
Highland and other members of the charter school’s staff learned about the rankings Monday, she said.
“It was one of our teachers who came across the bulletin and sent it to us,” Highland said. “We’re just celebrating a lot of hard work.”
She added: “I know I’m prejudiced, but the school is incredible.”
Sarasota School of Arts & Sciences has 780 students this year in grades six through eight. Last year, its enrollment was 684, Highland said.
“It’s truly rewarding,” she said of the ranking, adding that the students “are the ones who do the work.”
Along with those striving students, she said, “and the teachers sweating blood and tears, we have tremendous parent support … We have to give kudos to the parents as well.”
At Pine View, Principal Steve Largo said, “Of course, we appreciate the recognition and acknowledgement of the efforts of our students and teachers, but every school on the list will tell you the same thing, that this ranking is just a snapshot of who we are as a school, and there are many other accomplishments that schools can celebrate.”
Prominent rankings are not new to Pine View, Largo conceded. Over the past five years, the school has been featured in such national magazines as Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report and BusinessWeek.
Asked his first response to the state rankings, Largo said, “Honestly, not too surprised. We have high expectations of our students, and they have high expectations of us.”
The rankings were based on 2010-2011 point totals.