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.