COLUMN: Ranked at the top

By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer

Every year, our company publishes the Shelby County Visitors + Newcomers Guide, a magazine filled with helpful information for residents and visitors alike, from recreational venue descriptions to restaurant lists to city profiles. One section of the guide is dedicated to local schools, which continue to be among the county’s greatest assets.

Our staff sees the reasons behind Shelby County’s schools being touted as some of the best in the state as we cover events at different campuses throughout the year. But for newcomers or even prospective residents, recent rankings provide an overview of just how exceptional our schools and school systems are.

According to the Niche 2020 Best School Districts in Alabama rankings, all four Shelby County area public school districts rank highly statewide.

Hoover City Schools leads the group at No. 4, followed by Pelham City Schools at No. 14, Alabaster City Schools at No. 19 and Shelby County Schools at No. 20.

School district rankings are determined by academics, teachers, clubs and activities, administration, food, diversity, college prep, health and safety, sports, and resources and facilities.

Another list reveals that several private schools in Shelby County rank highly.

Indian Springs School tops out the Niche 2020 Best Private High Schools in Alabama list, and three more Shelby County private schools rank inside the state’s top 25.

Along with Indian Springs School, Westminster School at Oak Mountain came in at No. 14, Briarwood Christian School at No. 16, Evangel Classical Christian School at No. 24 and Cornerstone Christian School at No. 58.

Private schools are graded using the following criteria: Academics, teachers, clubs and activities, diversity, college prep, and sports.

Still another list – the Niche 2020 Best Public High Schools in Alabama list – shows Spain Park High School in the No. 5 spot.

Also ranking highly were Oak Mountain High School at No. 11, Pelham High School at No. 23, Helena High School at No. 24, Thompson High School at No. 31, Chelsea High School at No. 61 and Calera High School at No. 83.

Similar to the other lists, schools are ranking based on academics, teachers, clubs and activities, administration, food, diversity, college prep, health and safety, sports, and resources and facilities.

The COVID-19 pandemic certainly has presented challenges for teachers, staff and school system officials the last few months, but if these lists are any indication, their work to provide a first-rate educational experiences to students is worthy of recognition.