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Aiken Scholars Academy receives high national rankings from U.S. News and World Report

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Aiken Scholars Academy has earned high national and metro-area rankings in the U.S. News and World Report’s 2024 Best High Schools report.

Out of nearly 18,000 high schools, ASA ranked No. 28 nationally, earning status as a U.S. News Best High School. Additionally, ASA ranked No. 2 in South Carolina High Schools, No. 1 in Aiken High Schools, and No. 1 in Augusta Metro Area High Schools.

“Of course we expect our students to do well – if they weren’t doing well then we wouldn’t be doing our jobs – but to exceed at the level that they’re exceeding, it’s just tremendous, it takes my breath away,” said ASA Principal Martha Messick.

The 2024 rankings are based on data from the class of 2022, Messick noted. 2022 marked ASA’s first graduation year, after being established in 2018. 

Messick anticipates growth, and said that her message to current students is: “To continue to boost us up, to continue to work hard, continue to trust in the process, know that we are really looking out for them, and that deep down we all just have a passion for teaching and learning and educating, all of us, everybody in this building.”

“The rankings and all those things are totally amazing and it’s super exciting to be able to look at that and see that,” said Messick. “But, you know, ultimately our success is seeing those kids grow up and become good people.”

Teacher perspectives 

Sharonda Hannah, a math teacher at the school since 2018, said: “The fact that we’re shining academically … excites me. I never thought in my teaching career that I would work at the 28th high school in the nation and I just think it’s a highlight and a testament to the hard work these students put in.”

English and Language teacher Anne Poplin talked about what makes ASA special.

“Everybody is here to learn, including the adults in the building.We’re constantly learning new things and bringing them to our students – and our students, they are here to be pushed to reach a different level of potential … this place is like a family. We do push our students but it’s with rigor and kindness, compassion and unflinching firmness,” Poplin said.

Social studies teacher Lori James shared her thoughts on the school’s rankings.

“It’s a lot of hard work, not just the faculty but the student and the administration … it’s amazing to see how far our school has come in a short period of time,” she said.

Student perspectives

Tenth grader Madison Coffman talked about the school’s entrance process – students apply for admittance and the top 50 are selected – in relation to the rankings.

“Some people might say, ‘Oh, well they take the top 50, obviously they’re going to be really, really good,’” said Coffman. “But we also put in a lot of hard work and our teachers are really great and they teach us a lot.”

“Honestly, it’s just really crazy, I never thought I’d be in this position where I’m in one of the top schools in the whole nation,” said tenth grader Charlotte Hunsaker. “I’m really proud of us and the school and all the work that has been put into it.”

Axel Hornung in tenth grade talked about the school’s progress after only being open for seven years.

“To be compared to all these other schools that have been here for so long and we’re already 28th in the nation, second in the state, we’re already doing pretty well.”

Joab Brown in eleventh grade talked about what it’s like to attend a school that is ranked 28th in the nation: “It feels good … it’s really cool to think about.”

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