I downloaded public school data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for the 2011-2012 school year. I uploaded all 99,000+ schools it had in its database and hope to do the private schools in the future. Below are the top 20 largest high schools.* I did do some manual sanitizing of the list to remove online schools and any schools with multiple campuses (such as Noble Street Charter High in Chicago which has 10+ extension campuses).
Some things I noted while compiling this list:
- Some of them are in dense, urban areas but they always seem to make room for a football field and track
- Most are located in California (mostly LA), Chicago, Texas, and New York City. There’s also one in Indiana, two in Florida, and one in Massachusetts.
- They offer such a wide variety of programs, electives, activities, and sports.
- A couple of these schools separate out the freshman (and possibly the 10th grade as well) into a separate building that is nearby
- Unsure about some of the free/reduced lunch percentages, in particular for the California schools. They just seemed a little low after looking at the surrounding area, but I could be wrong.
- The national average for students receiving free or reduced lunch is about 48% for 2011-2012
|School Name||City||State||Students||Type||Free/ Reduced Lunch||Notes|
|1||BROOKLYN TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL||BROOKLYN||NY||5323||71%||Very urban, highly selective, at least 9 stories at the tallest point. Has 3100 seat auditorium. Students choose a major much like what you do at college.|
|2||PARAMOUNT HIGH||PARAMOUNT||CA||5015||3.7%||Has a Freshman campus right behind it|
|3||POLYTECHNIC HIGH||LONG BEACH||CA||4745||Magnet||N/A||2nd oldest high school in L.A.|
|4||NORTH SHORE SENIOR HIGH||HOUSTON||TX||4607||67.0%||Looks like a mall to me|
|5||CARMEL HIGH SCHOOL||CARMEL||IN||4555||9.1%||Has 14 tennis courts|
|6||WARREN TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL||GURNEE||IL||4442||14.2%||Split amongst two campuses for 11th/12th and 9th/10th|
|7||LANE TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL||CHICAGO||IL||4330||Magnet||60.9%||North side of Chicago, just like the other Chicago schools in this list|
|8||WAUKEGAN HIGH SCHOOL||WAUKEGAN||IL||4293||66.5%||North of Chicago, near Warren Township High|
|9||BELL SENIOR HIGH||BELL||CA||4290||7.8%||98% Hispanic|
|10||SKYLINE H S||DALLAS||TX||4289||Magnet||79.6%||First high school in US to offer a magnet program to train students in certain careers. Goal was not to be a vocational school for low achieving students, but to train “superior students”|
|11||FORT HAMILTON HIGH SCHOOL||BROOKLYN||NY||4261||60.7%||The football field has patches of dirt on it because they have two baseball fields overlapping (space is a premium in NYC!)|
|12||DOWNEY HIGH||DOWNEY||CA||4255||4.8%||Located just 3 miles from Paramount High, the #1 school and 5 miles from Bell (#8)|
|13||JOHN A. FERGUSON SENIOR HIGH||MIAMI||FL||4245||Magnet||57.4%||Variety of programs in areas like Game/Animation Programming, First Responder, Veterinarian Assisting, Industrial Biotechnology, Hospitality & Tourism, IB program|
|14||GRANADA HILLS CHARTER HIGH||GRANADA HILLS||CA||4201||Charter/ Magnet||23.8%||Regular school turned into charter school|
|15||DEWITT CLINTON HIGH SCHOOL||BRONX||NY||4195||73.7%||In 2010, was declared the most dangerous school in NYC with 252 violent or disruptive incidents and 33 weapons seized, mostly via the metal detectors at entrances|
|16||CYPRESS BAY HIGH SCHOOL||WESTON||FL||4192||15.8%||Satellite images of the surrounding area are really cool- very planned out, suburban community|
|17||FRANCIS LEWIS HIGH SCHOOL||FRESH MEADOWS||NY||4154||68.8%||Located in the Bronx|
|18||WILSON HIGH||LONG BEACH||CA||4148||Magnet||9.5%||Very diverse, aka Wilson Classical High. Have something called the “Wilson Male Academy” to improve graduation rates of males and encourage/prepare them for college or other careers.|
|19||BROCKTON HIGH||BROCKTON||MA||4135||71.2%||School has been on the upswing since very dismall performances hitting a low around 2000|
|20||JAMES LOGAN HIGH||UNION CITY||CA||4133||0.1%||Regular day runs from 7:16 to 4:26!|
|21||THE WOODLANDS H S||THE WOODLANDS||TX||4122||4.3%||Cool circular building design, looks like they may have a separate 9th grade campus. Have a “Future Homemakers of America” club|
*Okay, there are really 21 because I accidentally forgot one and didn’t bother dropping The Woodlands off the list.
Cypress Bay High School (#15) above in Florida (the only part that doesn’t look like a suburban neighborhood). The perfectness of the suburban upper class neighborhoods that surround it is fascinating to look at- it reminds me of the doodles I used to draw on my folders when I was in grade school. It’s also interesting how it’s all surrounded by bodies of water- did they build this in a swamp??
James Logan High (#19) in California. This outdoor common area looks just like what we see in movies and television shows. It’s what the rest of us wish we had at our school.
Lane Technical High School (#6) on the north side of Chicago
The Woodlands High School in Woodlands, Texas, sort of resembles what I’d picture a space station would look like.