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Prior Lake High School students walk through the school between class periods on May 22, 2019.

Prior Lake High School is among the state and county’s best high schools, according to a recent ranking from U.S. News and World Report.

The organization ranked Prior Lake High School 22nd out of 416 high schools in Minnesota and 1,506th out of 17,245 in the nation. Ranks are based on data like college readiness — or proportions of seniors who took and passed at least one Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exam — and academic proficiency.

It’s all there in the numbers for the 2016-17 school year, according to the report: 97 percent graduation rate, reading and math proficiency rates of 73 percent, around half of students’ taking AP exams and most of them passing.

Aggregate scores show Prior Lake High School ranks 1,019 in the country in math and reading.

Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools Superintendent Teri Staloch said in an email statement that the school will keep offering students opportunities to challenge and prepare them for life and praised the school’s staff as outstanding.

Senior Calvin Sund and his mother, Tracy, each attributed teachers’ investment in their students for the school’s success.

Calvin Sund has been part of the Prior Lake-Savage Area school district since kindergarten. He’s a wrestler, having won the 195-pound state title at the Class 3A individual tournament this year, and a contest-winning pen-and-ink artist.

Sund said his coaches and teachers truly care about him and his classmates.

“They’re always willing to work outside of class or after practice,” he said. “Especially in wrestling, I would stay after practice and work one-on-one with the coach. Today I’m staying after school to work with my math teacher. They want to see everyone succeed.”

Sund said he feels ready for college and the Air Force Academy.

“They make it hard for you to not be ready for college,” he added of the school’s staff. “You’d have to try to not be prepared.”

Tracy Sund, a Laker Athletic Booster Club rep, said she notices connections throughout the district; because multiple schools comprise sports teams, the transition into middle school and high school goes smoothly.

“Once you’re a Laker in elementary school, you’re a Laker all the way up,” she said. “They kind of bring everybody together as a community and run that through the high school.”

Band director Justin Schramm said he entered the world of education to effect change in communities.

“Being able to serve a community is special,” he said. “When you see students performing at Memorial Day services, giving veterans bottles of water, being hosts to those who gave so much, it’s indicative of our students knowing the world is bigger than them.”

The Memorial Day service is a recent memory that stands out to him as an example of why Prior Lake High School made the list beyond the obvious criteria.

“We have dedicated staff that care about our students,” Schramm said. “That’s special in a building that large. We work hard to know our students and try to make a big environment seem smaller.”

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