LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- The Clark County School District has not fared well in national rankings but there are bright spots.
News 3's Jerry Brown is at a local CCSD high school that local educators maintain can hold its own -- academically -- with any high school in the country.
A National Merit Scholarship is an academic prize coveted by students across our nation. This week the list of National Merit Semifinalists came out and for the second straight year one Las Vegas high school came out on top.
From the outside its appearance is unprepossessing.
Las Vegas' Clark High School could be just about any inner city high school except it happens to be much more than that.
“I think the word is getting out. Students have been very successful,” said Clark High Principal Jill Pendleton.
There are 14 smiling faces that belong to Clark High School seniors who just dominated the National Merit Scholarship competition for the second year running.
They achieved an extraordinary 14 semi-finalist slots from just 38 awarded to CCSD and private schools in southern Nevada.
Clark boasts 3,000 young scholars, 800 of whom are bussed to three academically acclaimed magnet programs.
“Students feel fortunate to be able to come to this high school,” Pendleton said. “It's very competitive to get in and when they do get here they do realize how lucky they are to be here.”
National media from the Washington Post to U.S. News and World Report have rated Clark as tops in the silver state. Other schools hang pictures of athletic teams on their walls. At Clark the walls are a celebration of academic accomplishment. Merit Semifinalist Theodor Kern seemed almost blasé' about his achievement.
“At Clark, it just comes naturally, especially when you are taking the advanced course loads they offer,” Kern said.
But Griffin Tabor was anything but nonchalant. His older brother is a former Clark High School merit semifinalist.
“I just have to beat him,” Tabor said. “I couldn't let it go where it was him and I was close, I just knew I had to do it.”
College plans for these Clark National Merit Semifinalists are not quite finalized but most say they are going to the east coast, mainly Ivy League or top engineering schools. We can only hope that they come back and settle in Nevada and share all they've learned with the rest of us.