Rating the High Schools

27817

In the pages that follow, we lay out the raw data for 66 of our region’s public high schools—statewide rankings, API scores (which take into account STAR testing and other assessments), SAT scores, graduation rates and enrollment figures. We also provide a guide to some of the area’s private high schools, including similar data, plus tuition costs.

But numbers aren’t everything, which is why we’ve profiled 10 of our region’s top seniors, asking them to tell us about their greatest achievements and career aspirations. Also, we congratulate Cristo Rey High School on its first graduating class.


HOW THEY RANK

The following is a list of area public high schools ranked from 10 to 1, according to statewide ranking based on API scores. We include the API Base score, which reflects a school’s student performances on the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program examinations that are held every year. In most cases, the 2008 API Base score is reported.
Statistics provided by the California Department of Education  •  Compiled by Sally Bounds

West Campus High School
Sacramento City Unified School District
Enrollment: 866 / Graduation rate: 100%
2008 API Base score: 887
Statewide rank: 10
2007–2008 SAT averages: 481 Critical Reading, 509 Math, 477 Writing

Oak Ridge High School  
El Dorado Union High School District
Enrollment: 2,229 / Graduation rate: 99%
2008 API Base score: 865  
Statewide rank: 10  
2007–2008 SAT averages: 540 Critical Reading, 570 Math, 544 Writing  

Vista del Lago High School
Folsom Cordova Unified School District
Enrollment: 955 (ninth, 10th and 11th grades only) / Graduation rate: 91%
2008 API Base score: 859
Statewide rank: 10
2007–2008 SAT averages: 454 Critical Reading, 449 Math, 452 Writing

Davis Senior High School
Davis Joint Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,659 / Graduation rate: 98%
2008 API Base score: 855
Statewide rank: 10
2007–2008 SAT averages: 583 Critical Reading, 612 Math, 578 Writing

Ponderosa High School
El Dorado Union High School District
Enrollment: 1,962 / Graduation rate: 95%
2008 API Base score: 851
Statewide rank: 10
2007–2008 SAT averages: 535 Critical Reading, 567 Math, 529 Writing

Folsom High School
Folsom Cordova Unified School District
Enrollment: 2,096 / Graduation rate: 99%
2008 API Base score: 843
Statewide rank: 10
2007–2008 SAT averages: 549 Critical Reading, 574 Math, 541 Writing

Rocklin High School
Rocklin Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,723 / Graduation rate: 100%
2008 API Base score: 841
Statewide rank: 10
2007–2008 SAT averages: 529 Critical Reading, 550 Math, 519 Writing

Granite Bay High School
Roseville Joint Union High School District
Enrollment: 2,092 / Graduation rate: 99%
2008 API Base score: 837
Statewide rank: 10
2007–2008 SAT averages: 542 Critical Reading, 557 Math, 539 Writing

Natomas Charter #19
Natomas Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,150 / Graduation rate: 91%
2008 API Base score: 837
Statewide rank: 10
2007–2008 SAT averages: 540 Critical Reading, 530 Math, 520 Writing

Bella Vista High School
San Juan Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,796 / Graduation rate: 92%
2008 API Base score: 826
Statewide rank: 9
2007–2008 SAT averages: 533 Critical Reading, 541 Math, 528 Writing

Whitney High School
Rocklin Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,506 / Graduation rate: 99%
2008 API Base score: 824
Statewide rank: 9
Most recent SAT averages: 505 Critical Reading, 527 Math, 495 Writing

Pleasant Grove High School
Elk Grove Unified School District
Enrollment: 2,194 / Graduation rate: 95%
2008 API Base score: 819
Statewide rank: 9
2007–2008 SAT averages: 500 Critical Reading, 531 Math, 500 Writing

Union Mine High School
El Dorado Union High School District
Enrollment: 1,178 / Graduation rate: 97%
2008 API Base score: 798
Statewide rank: 9
2007–2008 SAT averages: 543 Critical Reading, 555 Math, 532 Writing

Rio Americano High School
San Juan Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,667 / Graduation rate: 92%
2008 API Base score: 795
Statewide rank: 9
2007–2008 SAT averages: 563 Critical Reading, 586 Math, 580 Writing

El Dorado High School
El Dorado Union High School District
Enrollment: 1,400 / Graduation rate: 93%
Most recent API Base score: 793
Statewide rank: 9
2007–2008 SAT averages: 519 Critical Reading, 510 Math, 511 Writing

Franklin High School
Elk Grove Unified School District
Enrollment: 2,843 / Graduation rate: 99%
2008 API Base score: 793
Statewide rank: 9
2007–2008 SAT averages: 493 Critical Reading, 520 Math, 493 Writing

Del Oro High School
Placer Union High School District
Enrollment: 1,636 / Graduation rate: 98%
2008 API Base score: 790
Statewide rank: 9
2007–2008 SAT averages: 514 Critical Reading, 541 Math, 512 Writing

Leonardo da Vinci High School
Davis Joint Unified School District
Enrollment: 591 / Graduation rate: 100%
2008 API Base score: 827
Statewide rank: 8
2007–2008 SAT averages: 579 Critical Reading, 605 Math, 548 Writing

Mira Loma High School
San Juan Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,624 / Graduation rate: 81%
2008 API Base score: 787
Statewide rank: 8
2007–2008 SAT averages: 602 Critical Reading, 621 Math, 605 Writing

Woodcreek High School
Roseville Joint Union High School District
Enrollment: 2,097 / Graduation rate: 98%
2008 API Base score: 786
Statewide rank: 8
2007–2008 SAT averages: 500 Critical Reading, 518 Math, 496 Writing

Placer High School
Placer Union High School District
Enrollment: 1,368 / Graduation rate: 98%
2008 API Base score: 784
Statewide rank: 8
2007–2008 SAT averages: 541 Critical Reading, 554 Math, 538 Writing

El Camino Fundamental High School
San Juan Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,652 / Graduation rate: 98%
2008 API Base score: 781
Statewide rank: 8
2007–2008 SAT averages: 510 Critical Reading, 524 Math, 506 Writing

Oakmont High School
Roseville Joint Union High School District
Enrollment: 1,856 / Graduation rate: 98%
2008 API Base score: 781
Statewide rank: 8
2007–2008 SAT averages: 512 Critical Reading, 538 Math, 507 Writing

Roseville High School
Roseville Joint Union High School District
Enrollment: 2,097 / Graduation rate: 94%
2008 API Base score: 780
Statewide rank: 8
2007–2008 SAT averages: 513 Critical Reading, 538 Math, 497 Writing

Casa Roble Fundamental High School
San Juan Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,720 / Graduation rate: 93%
2008 API Base score: 778
Statewide rank: 8
2007–2008 SAT averages: 494 Critical Reading, 521 Math, 496 Writing

Colfax High School
Placer Union High School District
Enrollment: 923 / Graduation rate: 100%
2008 API Base score: 778
Statewide rank: 8
2007–2008 SAT averages: 553 Critical Reading, 570 Math, 546 Writing

Golden Sierra High School
Black Oak Mine Unified School District
Enrollment: 636 / Graduation rate: 98%
2008 API Base score: 773
Statewide rank: 8
2007–2008 SAT averages: 519 Critical Reading, 554 Math, 499 Writing

Del Campo High School
San Juan Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,788 / Graduation rate: 91%
2008 API Base score: 772
Statewide rank: 8
2007–2008 SAT averages: 508 Critical Reading, 523 Math, 516 Writing

Elk Grove High School
Elk Grove Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,905 / Graduation rate: 96%
2008 API Base score: 767
Statewide rank: 8
2007–2008 SAT averages: 482 Critical Reading, 514 Math, 482 Writing

School of Engineering and Sciences
Sacramento City Unified School District
Enrollment: 302 (ninth and 10th grades only) / Graduation rate: 85%
2008 API Base score: 779
Statewide rank: 7
2007–2008 SAT averages: not available

Center High School
Center Joint Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,474 / Graduation rate: 93%
2008 API Base score: 759
Statewide rank: 7
2007–2008 SAT averages: 491 Critical Reading, 526 Math, 476 Writing

John F. Kennedy High School
Sacramento City Unified School District
Enrollment: 2,211 / Graduation rate: 96%
2008 API Base score: 755
Statewide rank: 7
2007–2008 SAT averages: 488 Critical Reading, 506 Math, 476 Writing

Foresthill High School
Placer Union High School District
Enrollment: 261 / Graduation rate: 91%
2008 API Base score: 751
Statewide rank: 7
2007–2008 SAT averages: 525 Critical Reading, 500 Math, 497 Writing

C.K. McClatchy High School
Sacramento City Unified School District
Enrollment: 2,144 / Graduation rate: 87%
2008 API Base score: 746
Statewide rank: 7
2007–2008 SAT averages: 524 Critical Reading, 537 Math, 521 Writing

Galt High School
Galt Joint Union High School District
Enrollment: 2,194 / Graduation rate: 90%
2008 API Base score: 737
Statewide rank: 6
2007–2008 SAT averages: 496 Critical Reading, 519 Math, 494 Writing

Winters High School
Winters Joint Unified School District
Enrollment: 581 / Graduation rate: 96%
2008 API Base score: 736
Statewide rank: 6
2007–2008 SAT averages: 501 Critical Reading, 509 Math, 489 Writing

Futures High School
Twin Rivers Unified School District
Enrollment: 233 / Graduation rate: 100%
2008 API Base score: 733
Statewide rank: 6
2007–2008 SAT averages: not available

Sheldon High School
Elk Grove Unified School District
Enrollment: 2,464 / Graduation rate: 91%
2008 API Base score: 733
Statewide rank: 6
2007–2008 SAT averages: 474 Critical Reading, 494 Math, 482 Writing

Sutter High School
Sutter Union High School District
Enrollment: 725 / Graduation rate: 100%
2008 API Base score: 731
Statewide rank: 6
2007–2008 SAT averages: 513 Critical Reading, 533 Math, 505 Writing

Laguna Creek High School
Elk Grove Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,973 / Graduation rate: 94%
2008 API Base score: 725
Statewide rank: 6
2007–2008 SAT averages: 483 Critical Reading, 503 Math, 477 Writing

Shenandoah High School
El Dorado Union High School District
Enrollment: 101 / Graduation rate: 88%
2008 API Base score: 722
Statewide rank: 6
2007–2008 SAT averages: not available

Monterey Trail High School
Elk Grove Unified School District
Enrollment: 2,241 / Graduation rate: 95%
2008 API Base score: 719
Statewide rank: 6
2007–2008 SAT averages: 442 Critical Reading, 453 Math, 439 Writing

Sacramento High Charter School
Sacramento City Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,011 / Graduation rate: 84%
Most recent API Base score: 719
Statewide rank: 6
Most recent SAT averages: 380 Critical Reading, 377 Math, 382 Writing

River City High School
Washington Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,744 / Graduation rate: 89%
2008 API Base score: 718
Statewide rank: 5
2007–2008 SAT averages: 448 Critical Reading, 485 Math, 461 Writing

Cordova High School
Folsom Cordova Unified School District
Enrollment: 2,003 / Graduation rate: 93%
2008 API Base score: 712
Statewide rank: 5
2007–2008 SAT averages: 506 Critical Reading, 519 Math, 498 Writing

Foothill High School
Twin Rivers Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,363 / Graduation rate: 100%
2008 API Base score: 710
Statewide rank: 5
2007–2008 SAT averages: 473 Critical Reading, 484 Math, 465 Writing

Mesa Verde High School
San Juan Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,221 / Graduation rate: 83%
2008 API Base score: 709
Statewide rank: 5
2007–2008 SAT averages: 445 Critical Reading, 454 Math, 439 Writing

Rio Linda High School
Twin Rivers Unified School District
Enrollment: 2,098 / Graduation rate: 90%
2008 API Base score: 705
Statewide rank: 5
2007–2008 SAT averages: 445 Critical Reading, 476 Math, 431 Writing

Rosemont High School
Sacramento City Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,778 / Graduation rate: 89%
2008 API Base score: 705
Statewide rank: 5
2007–2008 SAT averages: 466 Critical Reading, 485 Math, 449 Writing

Florin High School
Elk Grove Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,768 / Graduation rate: 85%
2008 API Base score: 703
Statewide rank: 5
2007–2008 SAT averages: 430 Critical Reading, 458 Math, 432 Writing

Valley High School
Elk Grove Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,737 / Graduation rate: 84%
2008 API Base score: 692
Statewide rank: 4
2007–2008 SAT averages: 416 Critical Reading, 439 Math, 424 Writing

Inderkum High School
Natomas Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,696 / Graduation rate: 91%
2008 API Base score: 688
Statewide rank: 4
2007–2008 SAT averages: 474 Critical Reading, 506 Math, 468 Writing

Pioneer High School
Woodland Joint Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,548 / Graduation rate: 91%
2008 API Base score: 686
Statewide rank: 4
2007–2008 SAT averages: 468 Critical Reading, 460 Math, 479 Writing

Esparto High School
Esparto Unified School District
Enrollment: 326 / Graduation rate: 85%
2008 API Base score: 728
Statewide rank: 3
2007–2008 SAT averages: 476 Critical Reading, 542 Math, 480 Writing

The MET High School
Sacramento City Unified School District
Enrollment: 165 / Graduation rate: 75%
2008 API Base score: 669
Statewide rank: 3
2007–2008 SAT averages: not available

Woodland Senior High School
Woodland Joint Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,548 / Graduation rate: 84%
Most recent API Base score: 656
Statewide rank: 3
Most recent SAT averages: 493 Critical Reading, 498 Math, 490 Writing

New Technology High School
Sacramento City Unified School District
Enrollment: 308 / Graduation rate: 98%
2008 API Base score: 655
Statewide rank: 3
2007–2008 SAT averages: 505 Critical Reading, 509 Math, 497 Writing

Arthur A. Benjamin Health Professions High School
Sacramento City Unified School District
Enrollment: 467 / Graduation rate: not available
Most recent API Base score: 644
Statewide rank: 2
Most recent SAT averages: not available
Highlands Academy of Arts and Design

Twin Rivers Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,554 / Graduation rate: 82%
2008 API Base score: 642
Statewide rank: 2
2007–2008 SAT averages: 451 Critical Reading, 428 Math, 440 WritingNatomas High School

Natomas Unified School District
Enrollment: 1,536 / Graduation rate: 76%
2008 API Base score: 642
Statewide rank: 2
2007–2008 SAT averages: 463 Critical Reading, 461 Math, 449 Writing

San Juan High School
San Juan Unified School District
Enrollment: 768 / Graduation rate: 70%
2008 API Base score: 632
Statewide rank: 2
2007–2008 SAT averages: 479 Critical Reading, 499 Math, 472 Writing

Encina Preparatory High School
San Juan Unified School District
Enrollment: 732 / Graduation rate: 69%
2008 API Base score: 628
Statewide rank: 2
2007–2008 SAT averages: 420 Critical Reading, 427 Math, 422 Writing

Luther Burbank High School
Sacramento City Unified School District
Enrollment: 2,064 / Graduation rate: 89%
2008 API Base score: 626
Statewide rank: 2
2007–2008 SAT averages: 385 Critical Reading, 416 Math, 392 Writing

Hiram W. Johnson High School
Sacramento City Unified School District
Enrollment: 2,070 / Graduation rate: 78%
2008 API Base score: 611
Statewide rank: 2
2007–2008 SAT averages: 405 Critical Reading, 419 Math, 396 Writing

Grant Union High School
Twin Rivers Unified School District
Enrollment: 2,032 / Graduation rate: 73%
2008 API Base score: 606
Statewide rank: 2
2007–2008 SAT averages: 401 Critical Reading, 407 Math, 402 Writing

GENESIS High School
Sacramento City Unified School District
Enrollment: 220 / Graduation rate: 63%
2008 API Base score: 574
Statewide rank: 1
2007–2008 SAT averages: not available


IT’S A BIG YEAR FOR CRISTO REY

BY Cathy Cassinos-Carr

“Small but mighty” aptly describes this year’s first-ever graduating class from Cristo Rey High School, comprising just 54 students.

“They’ve all got seats in college—100 percent of them,” brags a shamelessly proud Ward Fansler, president of the South Sacramento campus, part of a network of 24 Catholic high schools nationwide.

For many low-income students, Cristo Rey is a godsend, offering a ticket into a college-prep school with an innovative work-study program that accomplishes two goals: real-world experience and financial reimbursement from the employers for whom they work, offsetting the cost of tuition.
Even in this pinched economy, more than 70 employers in the Sacramento region are sponsoring students, says Fansler, including some of the area’s heaviest hitters, such as CHW/Mercy, Downey Brand, Vanir Construction Management, Synergex, and the California State Senate and Assembly.

For 18-year-old Nick Ramirez, a member of the graduating class of 2010, Cristo Rey offered what he calls “the chance of a lifetime.

“Compared to kids at other public and private schools, I think Cristo Rey has given me the most opportunities,” he says. One of the beauties of the program, Ramirez says, was the chance to work for a variety of companies (in his case, five) in a variety of roles. After first trying his hand at computer technology, an internship at the Capitol sparked an interest in politics, leading eventually to a position at the Personal Insurance Federation of California, a lobbying firm. “That was my favorite job by far,” says Ramirez. “I would go around with the lobbyists, go to the fundraiser events, go to committee hearings—everything.”

 Next stop: majoring in political science at any number of top schools. Ramirez’s acceptance letters have come from the likes of Loyola University, University of San Francisco and Fordham.
An aggressive recruiting campaign is the only way to bring students like Ramirez to Cristo Rey, Fansler says.

“We have to go out and enter into conversation with parents to let them know their son or daughter can receive a private college-prep education,” says Fansler. It’s a Catch-22, he says, because Cristo Rey exclusively serves students whose financially strapped parents are not out shopping for a private school. “By definition, the students who come to Cristo Rey weren’t looking for us,” says Fansler.

Fansler, who has been on board since the school opened in 2006, says the experience has been “an incredible journey and an incredible leap of faith for the first cohort of students and faculty and staff that have joined Cristo Rey.” At the time the school opened, he says, “it had been a closed elementary school, we didn’t have heating or air conditioning, and the name Cristo Rey wasn’t known in Sacramento.” It was a “new model,” he says. “Our seniors are an outstanding group of risk-takers.”

David Brown, the school’s work-study director, says he marvels at the personal growth he’s witnessed in the students during his two years at Cristo Rey.

“Just to see the progress, remembering when they were shy and looking down at the floor and to now see them looking you in the eyes, shaking your hand . . . it’s pretty magical.”                        


MEET THE STUDENT: Kensal Murph, Mira Loma High School

A high schooler playing the harp is not exactly conventional—and that’s just one of the things that makes Kensal Murph an unforgettable student, says Mira Loma counselor Joan Adams. “She’s a wonderful girl, and nontraditional,” says Adams. Murph definitely does things her own way: Instead of starting college this fall, she plans to take a year off and tour the U.S. in search of the right harp teacher.
On playing the harp: “When I was 3 years old, I was at a park and came upon a harp concert [and] decided I wanted to play the harp. I started with piano for maybe six years to get a musical base and started harp around 12. I’ve loved it from the beginning. With the amount of strings there are, you can express musical ideas in such a bigger way [than with] other instruments.”
Post high-school plans: “In August, my mom and I are going to Luxembourg, where I’ll take part in a music festival. The rest of the year, I’m going to go all over the U.S. and take lessons with different teachers because I haven’t found a teacher I’ve totally clicked with yet.”
Possible future schools: “I’ve got a long list, including Manhattan School of Music, Eastman School of Music and San Francisco Conservatory of Music.”
Career dreams: “I would love to play with an orchestra somewhere—just to be good enough to be recognized as a harpist.”

MEET THE STUDENT: Eudeline Agulto, Florin High School
A go-getter who applied for—and received—a $500 grant to fund a benefit for the American Lung Association, Eudeline Agulto also manages to pull a 4.48 GPA and spends time dancing, both competitively and for fun. “I always wanted to throw a break-dancing competition and call it ‘Break the Habit’ and turn it into a charity event,” says Agulto. And she did.
On getting the grant: “I had like a week to fill out the application. It was hard because it’s the first time I’ve done something like this, and I can’t believe I pulled it off. I’m pretty proud of it.”
On dancing: “I’m a part of the Dajalooze crew, and I’ve been to two competitions. I like the lifestyle because you meet new people who share a common hobby. I also do hip-hop choreography for the Optical Illusion Club.”
On what drives her: “I’ve always been kind of a hard worker from watching my mom. She was a single mom from the time I was 2, and I have two older sisters. We lived in the Philippines for 11 years, and we had a store there. Sometimes I would go with her to Manila to buy stuff to sell, and it was hard work. But it also inspired and motivated me.”
Career dreams: “I’m pretty sure I want to be a civil engineer. I want to make something I can see, like bridges—something that will help the community.”


MEET THE STUDENT: Charday Adams, Grant Union High School

At 18, Charday Adams already has a résumé to put most of us to shame. The short list: class valedictorian, Frank H. Buck scholarship recipient, co-founder and poet/mentor of Sacramento Area Youth Speaks, Power Forward athletic mentor and Principal’s award for 4.0 or greater. Oh, and Adams wants to make sure we mention M.E.S.A., the Math, Engineering, Science and Liberal Arts Honors Academy of which she is a member.
On what drives her: “I’ve always thought that the passion and the motivation is in the struggle—going through everything and knowing this isn’t the end, knowing there’s something better out there.”
Passions: “I love English; creative writing has always been a strong point. History—everyone has a story to be told. Outside of school, I run track; it’s a big part of my escape from reality. Spoken word is probably one of my biggest passions. It helped me to find my inner voice and my purpose.”
College plans: University of Southern California
Career dreams: “I’m planning on studying film, screenwriting and education. I’d like to somehow channel my passion for spoken word into screenwriting as a profession.”
One word self-description: “Poetic.”           


MEET THE STUDENT: Thomas Thao, River City High School

“I love community service because I come from a low-income family and just want to give back,” says Thomas Thao. The son of Vietnamese immigrants, Thao stands out as one of River City High’s leaders, says school counselor Kara Ozeroff, ticking off a list of achievements, from being a founding member of Interact Club, a community service student group, to competing on the school’s Mock Trial team.
On the Interact Club: “I helped to start the club in my junior year, and now it’s about 40 people. We’re sponsored by the local Rotary Club, and we do community service projects. This year, we raised funds to sponsor a kid from Cambodia to go to a university for a full year, which was really exciting.”
College plans: UC San Diego
Career dreams: “I’m hoping to become a math teacher and teach secondary school. I want to teach in the States a couple of years and then teach overseas. My teachers were the ones who inspired me to get my education to have a successful life, and I want to be like them, helping students who have lost their direction.”
Role model: “My tennis coach, Dave Brooks. My father passed away in 2005, and [Brooks is] like a father figure to me because I didn’t have a father figure when I came into high school. He teaches me self-discipline.”
Favorite quote: “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you wanted.”


MEET THE STUDENT: Shelby Campbell, Roseville High School

Sure, a rigorous college-prep course of study and a high GPA is impressive. But equally impressive, says Roseville High Principal Brad Basham, is Shelby Campbell’s dedication to helping others, including volunteering at a shelter for needy families and at her own school as a peer helper. “I just really want to use my talents to help people,” says Campbell.
Biggest achievements: “I was homecoming queen, and that was really awesome and a big honor. But a lot of the things I consider achievements are just little—making people happy, helping people out.”
On peer helping: “It’s a class we have at Roseville High. We start off the year by just getting to know each other—a mix of kids with good grades and kids who are struggling with school—and we get together and talk about our lives. In the end, you find out you actually have a lot in common. It opens your eyes.”
College plans: William Jessup University (Rocklin)
Career dreams: “I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. But, lately, I’ve been thinking about an event-planning business because my friends and I always have little parties, like Valentine’s parties, and I love planning them.”
Career nightmare: “I don’t think I’d ever want to be a whale trainer. I’m deathly afraid of whales.”


MEET THE STUDENT: Kelsey McNamara, Christian Brothers High School

“A stellar student and one of the friendliest, kindest students I have ever worked with” is how Christian Brothers counselor Mary Hesser describes Kelsey McNamara. Stellar is right: McNamara boasts a 4.43 GPA, though what seems to matter more to her is all the volunteer work she’s taken on, including organizing charitable projects through Christian Service Corps. “A high GPA doesn’t define you,” says McNamara.
On volunteerism: “The biggest service thing I did this year is going to Salinas for five days to volunteer at a soup kitchen.”
Other activities: “I’m in my fourth year of playing lacrosse. I’m also really involved in school TV, doing the newscast. I anchor and write the scripts.”
College plans: Notre Dame
Why Notre Dame: “Every since I was little, my dad has been a big Notre Dame fan—maybe because it’s a big Catholic school. Then I visited the campus last year, and loved everything about it.”
Career dreams: “I’m thinking maybe business, but I could completely change my mind. Journalism? Law? My family and teachers say I might make a good lawyer.”
On what drives her: “I’ve always been a highly motivated person. I’m really competitive with myself, so once I do well on something, I always want to do better.”

MEET THE STUDENT: Jacques Lowe, Cordova High School
You’d think getting straight A’s would be enough for Jacques Lowe. But no. “Even after she gets the A, she continues to work to learn and understand the material,” says Cordova High Principal Jackie Levy. “She is extremely helpful to her classmates as well.” Lowe’s team spirit paid off big-time this year, when she won Cordova’s team leader award in Sacramento County’s Academic Decathlon. She’s also one of the highest scorers on the school’s Mathletes team.
Reflections on high school: “Being involved in different school activities helps to make high school more fun. I was a cheerleader in my sophomore year, have done track since I was a freshman, and this year, I swam. It’s not good to be stressed out, worrying about grades all the time.”
Proudest achievements: “In my junior year, I decided to sign up for a bunch of honors classes. My grades had not been the best in [my] freshman and sophomore years, but as a junior I got a 4.17 and last semester, 4.0.”
Favorite subjects: “I love math. It’s something I understand easily, and not a lot of people do. I also like it because I can help others.”
Career dreams: “I want to be a plastic surgeon. I used to watch the TV show ‘Dr. 90210,’ and that sparked my interest. It goes along with my desire to help people.”
On what drives her: “My family. I don’t come from a wealthy family and my parents didn’t finish college. They’re always telling me how important education is. I want to make them proud.”    


MEET THE STUDENT: James Bui, West Campus High School

James Bui manages to keep his grades high while juggling extracurriculars. Key Club and tennis team figure prominently, but helping his parents in their Chinese herbal store, Bui says, is more important. “They’re not that fluent in English, so I help out with translating,” he says.
Pivotal experiences: “Key Club has shown me that it’s a really big world out there. This year, I serve as Lieutenant Governor of Division 7 North, helping to manage eight clubs in the Sacramento region and also serving as a link to the California-Nevada-Hawaii district. I’ve learned that grades aren’t everything; there’s a lot more to learn from other people than what you learn in school.”
Career dreams: “In the back of my mind, I always thought I’d go into medicine or the health field, but I’m not concrete about it yet. I’ve grown up around the Chinese natural herbs aspect of medicine, and my dad has always talked about how he doesn’t like Western medicine all that much. I plan to explore my options.”
On working in his parents’ store: “It’s shown me how the world is—the business side, the dog-eat-dog aspect of life. I don’t think the business world is for me. My mom says I’m too honest, too nice. I think I’m too empathetic.”
Favorite quote: “If you want to be happy, be.”          


MEET THE STUDENT: Jamie Johnson, Sacramento Country Day School

There aren’t enough superlatives to describe Jamie Johnson, says Country Day Headmaster Stephen Repsher. “Active, hardworking, fun-loving and playful spirit, president of the student body, excellent grades, plays a mean saxophone, reads voraciously, plays sports” are just a few of the accolades he rattles off. Johnson herself is more modest. When asked what she’d consider her proudest achievement, she answers, “Oh, gosh, that’s a hard question.”
Reflections on high school: “The most fun I’ve had is being on the staff for our school’s literary magazine, the Glass Knife. The staff members all have so much fun together, our adviser is awesome and we always have a blast at the speakeasies (poetry readings) that we have at our retreat.”
Passions: “Reading and music. I was a late reader, so the summer after second grade, when it finally clicked while reading Harry Potter, I was ecstatic. I also love music—listening to it and playing it with our family jazz band.”
College plans: UC Berkeley. “I hope to double major in English and environmental engineering and very possibly a minor in Spanish. I also want to study abroad.”
Career dreams: “I’ve always thought it would be really cool to be a photojournalist for a nature magazine like National Geographic because it would combine all my loves—photography, writing, nature and travel.”
On what drives her: “Hope for an exciting life, hope for a good life—a curiosity to explore and understand all I can.”

MEET THE STUDENT: Adrian Sheppard, Inderkum High School
“The thing that’s really neat about Adrian is that he can travel between peer groups,” says Inderkum Vice Principal Heather King. “He’s as comfortable around kids as he is around adults.” That, plus the fact that he’s in the top 10 percent of his graduating class and is actively involved in student leadership are a few of the reasons Sheppard stands out.
On student leadership: “I took the leadership class throughout senior year. Leadership puts on all the rallies and school events. Our main focus during the school year is the prom. This year, we’re renting out a night boat trip in San Francisco.”
Other meaningful experiences: “I’m in Close Up [club], which is a foundation that promotes schools in government. This past summer, we went to Washington, D.C., and it definitely had an impact in how I think about government.”
Passions: “Dancing—I’ve been dancing since I was about 7 or 8. More recently, my grandmother passed away from cancer, so as a family we’ve been taking part in programs that promote healthy eating, so that’s a new passion.”
College plans: Sacramento City College, then University of Southern California
Career dreams: “I would like to become a dentist, for as long as I can remember. Years ago, my uncle had braces and I became so obsessed with it—I don’t know why.”
Favorite quote: “If you can believe it, you can achieve it.”