It’s all about community.

At least for Horizon Community Learning Center it is. The public charter school’s secondary school Horizon Honors proved their success this week after it was named the number 17 high school in the state by the U.S. News & World Report—earning a silver award.

“We all really have the same goal, we’re driving on this road together,” said Betsy Fera, Horizon’s executive director. “It’s that sense of community and common vision.”

In the school’s second year of participating, Horizon jumped down this year to number 17 from last year’s rank of 22 in the state. There are roughly 385 public high schools in Arizona.

This year’s results also showed the school as number 1,099 in the country, and just shy of making the top 100 national rank for charter schools at number 108.

“Our students and faculty work so hard, they absolutely deserve the recognition of their efforts,” said Nancy Emmons, Horizon Honors principal. “I was so happy to see our ranking.”

U.S. News released its first high school ranking in 2007, and has since gained notoriety for its ranking system of high schools, colleges, graduate schools and even hospitals.

Horizon’s some 1,500 students enjoy a variety of clubs, programs and some sports at the public charter school just south of Chandler Boulevard on 48th Street.

Horizon Honors currently enrolls about 415 students in grades 9 through 12. Students are encouraged to take responsibility for their growth with a learning agreement signed by parents, staff and students.

Parents are also highly involved, promising to volunteer, donate and support fundraising efforts.

Despite the lack of funding from the state, Fera said charter schools including Horizon have found ways around less government aid.

“What sets us apart is our supportive families. Our students have parents who love and support them and our school,” said Emmons. “They also have a highly qualified and dedicated staff. And above all, the students themselves realize they can do anything they can dream.”

With a development program for teachers called TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement, teachers at Horizon have ongoing professional development with on-site master and mentor teachers.

Fera said with TAP, teachers have a high level of collaboration and aren’t alone in their respective practices.

“That’s a key factor in our success,” she said.

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• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or Follow her on Twitter @dmartinezAFN.

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