In the 13 years since Prospect Ridge Academy opened, it has established itself as one of the premier schools in Colorado. In August 2014, the first freshman class walked through the doors and began their journey as the first high school Miners. Since that day, PRA has graduated six classes, and statistics on each one show that PRA graduates find success at the college level.
Recently, PRA received recognition from two national orgranizations: US News & World Report and the College Board. For the fourth year in a row, US News & World Report named Prospect Ridge Academy as one of the best high schools in the nation. PRA ranks No. 2 among high schools in the Adams 12 Five Star School District, No. 12 in high schools in the Denver Metro area, and No. 22 among Colorado high schools. Nationally, PRA ranks in the top 5 percent for high schools.*
US News & World Report ranks 17,680 schools across the U.S., including 351 in Colorado. Rankings are based on academic offerings, graduation rates, test scores, and the demographics of the student body. This is PRA’s fourth time to be included in the top rankings for U.S. high schools.
The College Board also named PRA as a Platinum member of the AP School Honor Roll. The honor is bestowed on schools that are committed to helping students attend college, provide opportunities for students to earn college credit, and maximize college readiness.
PRA’s Advanced Placement numbers are for the class of 2023:
- 78% of seniors who took at least one AP exam during high school
- 42% of seniors scoring a three or higher on at least one AP exam
- 9% of seniors who took five or more AP exams
- 18 AP courses are offered
- 20 sections of AP courses are taught
- 13 instructional staff members teach AP courses
Liz Morgan, PRA’s assessment and data coordinator, said the AP School Honor Roll recognition is a testament to PRA’s community, from students to administrators.
“PRA, as a college prep high school, continues to provide the opportunities to optimize our student’s college readiness,” Morgan said. “I think that this speaks highly of our community, our teachers and administration, but most importantly of our students and the commitment to their education.”
PRA’s college prep focus is evident in the numbers of seniors who apply to college, are accepted, the scholarships they receive, and percentage that continue through to completion. Consistently the number of PRA seniors who apply to and are accepted into college ranges in the 99 to 100 percentile with dips seen only in the classes of 2021 and 2022, which sat at 94 percent and 96 percent respectively. Once our students are in college, the vast majority continue with their studies. Total retention rate ranged between 89-90 percent for the classes of 2018, 2019, and 2020. This is significantly higher than the national average, in which the college retention rate is 75.6 percent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
PRA graduating classes consistently earn millions of dollars in merit scholarships. The 95 seniors in the class of 2023 earned $5.5 million in scholarships awarded. In the last six years, PRA juniors have received 13 National Merit Scholarship commendations, and the school has produced one National Merit semi-finalist and four finalists. All juniors take the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Commendations are given to students with the top 50,000 scores; the semi-finalist designation goes to the top 15,000 scores, and 8,000 of the top scorers receive scholarships as finalists.
Adam DiGiacomo, PRA high school principal, said the foundation for the success that graduates experience in college begins early at PRA. “I could not be more proud of our HS graduates,” DiGiacomo said. “The successes they are having in college is directly connected to the habits they established in not just high school, but also middle school and elementary school. Their commitment to lifelong learning and the desire to become academic, social, and ethical leaders truly sets them apart.”
PRA alumni attribute their success at the university level in part to their experiences at PRA. Small class sizes allow teachers the opportunity to get to know their students, and these relationships often inspire PRA graduates as they look toward the future.
Hunter Drake, class of 2018, said teachers and leadership opportunities at PRA played a big role in his college experience. Serving on student council and as baseball team captain helped him develop leadership skills that helped him in college and beyond in ways he never imagined in high school.
“Stepping into college is a whole new world,” he said. “But there are a ton of things at PRA that I could point to that helped me succeed at the next level. Mr. Nuss played a big role in my overall education. He made class seem fun and showed us the information was worth learning.”
Attending a kindergarten through 12th grade school provides a unique educational experience for PRA students. Executive Director April Wilkin said that through intentional effort, the staff at PRA has designed a program that set students on a path to academic excellence.
“I attribute this success to intentional hard work,” Wilkin said. “From day one at Prospect Ridge Academy we set out to create a rigorous school environment where students could successfully have access to the college of their choice.”