Chanhassen and Shakopee high schools tied for the southwest metro’s best this year.

It’s hard for Principal Dick Ungar to decide what makes Chanhassen High School the best in the southwest metro.

Could it be the unbelievable parents and community, the outstanding staff, the off-the-charts sports and activities? It’s a combination of all of them and more that makes the school of 1,625 students the best in the area, Ungar said.

Nearly 95% of its students went onto two- or four-year colleges after graduation, Ungar added. With that kind of focus on success, he’s also keeping an eye on his students’ mental health, he said.

“We know their names, and they know ours,” Ungar said.

“I always laugh and call them a bunch of overachievers,” he joked. That kind of camaraderie between staff and students is important to create a community, he added.

Shakopee, meanwhile, works to help students find their particular interests and prepare for life after graduation.

The Academies of Shakopee are smaller learning communities of students in teachers that focus on particular subject areas such as arts and communication or engineering and manufacturing.

The elective Center for Advanced Professional Studies, meanwhile, immerses juniors and seniors in internships and other real-world experience with local businesses. Students earn dual credit with Normandale Community College.

School spokeswoman Crystal McNally noted the in-school bank, culinary kitchen and simulated courtroom and hospital are among the school’s other unique facilities.

“We are proud of what we are offering students and the possibility of what we could offer in the future,” she wrote in an email.

Other finalists were Prior Lake High School, Chaska High School, Eden Prairie High School, Jordan High School, Waconia High School, Minnetonka High School, PiM Arts High School and Belle Plaine High School.


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