My tiny school, nestled here in the Great Smoky Mountains of Eastern Tennessee, has just been granted the honor of being named one of America’s Top 500 High Schools by Newsweek. You can read the local release here. A highlight from the story in the Knoxville News Sentinel story, released on August 19, 2015 notes that “at Gatlinburg-Pittman, despite more than half — 56 percent — of students in poverty, [Gatlinburg-Pittman’s] graduation rate was 100 percent…” Gatlinburg-Pittman shares this honor with only one other East Tennessee high school, Farragut High School. Farragut has only a 13% poverty rate and is about three times the size of my small school, making our achievement stand out even more. Overall, only six schools in the entire state made the list of America’s Top 500 High Schools.
As you read this, hopefully, you heard the song “You’re the Best Around” quietly in the back of your mind. We’re a small school in a high-poverty region in Appalachia. How’s that for a Crane kick? Kudos to my fellow faculty members, to our counselors, and our administrators, and definitely to our students and community! I think Mr. Miyagi would be proud!