A high school in northern Aroostook County has been named the second-best in the country. A recent ranking from U.S. News & World Report placed the Maine School of Science and Mathematics, a small public magnet school in Limestone, as the best public high school in the state, and behind only one other school nationwide.
The publication ranks public high schools based on factors such as advanced placement test results, state assessments and graduation rates.
Alan Whittemore, the school's dean of enrollment management, attributes part of the institution's success to its rural location and residential nature, which he says allows students to bond.
"While they're here, this is the school of the curious and capable," Whittemore. "They come together and feed off one another."
The school also features small class sizes and frequent advanced placement and college-level classes, which he says help prepare students for the next level.
"That's why we're in existence," Whittemore says. "We're an extension of every high school in the state of Maine, not in competition. But when U.S. News recognized that, we appreciate the accolades."
The magnet school, which has less than 150 students, requires a rigorous application process, where youth must visit the campus in Limestone, be interviewed, and receive recommendations from four teachers.
Other highly ranked Maine high schools on the U.S. News list were mostly in southern Maine communities, including Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth.