Greece, N.Y. – Odyssey Academy was named one of the top 100 high schools in the country by U.S. News and World Report. The school, which has 843 students in grades 6 through 12, ranked 12th in New York state.
“There’s no magic bullet,” said Principal Sue Meier. “It’s really just hard work.”
If Odyssey has a formula for success, it includes high standards for students. More than 90 percent will take an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exam before graduating. At Odyssey, it’s not enough to pass a state exam.
“Our goal is more and more students working at college level and ready to keep working at college level when they walk out the door,” Meier said. Sometimes she has to fight with parents and insist students take higher-level classes.
“The curriculum, the teachers expect so much out of you. They get it out of you because of how much they care, how much they work,” said junior Stylianos Tegas.
The study also took into account the performance of disadvantaged students. One in five Odyssey students is low-income.
“(The study) is not just looking at the highest achievers. It’s looking at the school as a whole and how it meets all of the students’ needs,” said teacher Elizabeth Izzo.
Odyssey has some challenges ahead. Next school year, it’s moving into a larger building and will add 300 students. There will be still a lottery system, but a number of spots will be reserved for neighborhood students. The percentage of disadvantaged students is expected to climb to 32 percent.
Meier said the school doesn’t want to be a “wealthy school” and the challenge will be to maintain the success rate.
“That’s our challenge,” she said. “We’re convinced we can or we wouldn’t have been supportive of the move.”