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Newsweek names eight Gwinnett schools among best

LAWRENCEVILLE - Eight of Gwinnett's high schools have been named by Newsweek magazine as among America's best, school district officials announced this week.

Central Gwinnett, Dacula, Duluth, Mill Creek, Norcross, North Gwinnett, Parkview and Peachtree Ridge are among more than 1,300 high schools ranked as among the top 5 percent in the nation, according to the newsmagazine's 2007 Challenge Index.

The list ranks high schools based on students' participation in college-level tests such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams.

Some high schools, such as Dacula, were not included when the list was released in May. Principal Donald Nutt challenged his school's absence from the list, and after a review of data, Newsweek has added the school, district spokeswoman Sloan Roach said.

Schools are ranked using a formula that divides the number of college-level tests taken by the number of students graduating from the school, North Gwinnett Principal John Green said. His school, ranked at No. 562 in the nation, is at the top of Gwinnett schools on the list.

"The emphasis on AP is a major component of what we do as a school district," Green said. "They (district officials) are very supportive in our efforts. ... We value a high level of curriculum for all students and promote participation in AP classes."

The school's success is the result of the hard work of the teachers and students, Green said. Teachers have worked hard to encourage students to take AP classes, and students participate in social events to celebrate taking rigorous courses, he said.

"The students do creative things to show it's cool to be smart in school," Green said. "I think it's a culture you want to have."

The rankings for the other schools are as follows: Duluth is No. 592, Central Gwinnett is No. 681, Mill Creek is No. 741, Norcross is No. 752, Peachtree Ridge is No. 903, Parkview is No. 1,023 and Dacula is No. 1,109.

Gwinnett County has 16 public high schools.