Highlands High School (Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania)

Highlands High School is a suburban, public secondary school in the Natrona Heights neighborhood of Harrison Township in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. It is part of the Highlands School District and has a current enrollment of about 800 students in grades nine through twelve.[3]

Highlands High School
1500 Pacific Avenue


Coordinates40°37′04″N 79°43′37″W / 40.617843°N 79.726903°W / 40.617843; -79.726903
School typeHigh school
School districtHighlands School District
SuperintendentMichael Bjalobach (acting)
PrincipalCharles Mort (grades 11 and 12)
PrincipalShawn Bennis (grades 9 and 10)
School colour(s)Brown and gold         
Song"Highlands High School Alma Mater" [1]
Fight song"Go Highlands", "Fite Fite Fite"
Team nameGolden Rams
AccreditationMiddle States Association of Colleges and Schools
Feeder schoolsHighlands Middle School

Graduation rateEdit

In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, four-year cohort graduation rate. Highlands School District's rate was 80% for 2010.[4]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations:

  • 2010 – 69% [5]
  • 2009 – 69% [6]
  • 2008 – 69% [7]
  • 2007 – 69% [8]
  • 2016 - 420%

Statewide High School PSSA RankingsEdit

The following statewide rankings (out of 676 public school districts) are based solely on the PSSA results of the high school's junior class:[9]

  • 2016- 504th
  • 2015- 463rd
  • 2014- 462nd
  • 2013- 433rd
  • 2012- 464th

Academic achievementEdit

In 2010, the Highland High School achieved AYP status. In 2009, the school was in "Warning" status due to low student achievement.[10]

In 2009, Highlands High School's 11th grade ranked 68th out of 123 western Pennsylvania 11th grades for academic achievement on three years of PSSAs in reading, writing, math, and one year of science.[11]

PSSA results
11th Grade Reading
  • 2010 - 62% on grade level. Boys 52%/girls 71% (19% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 66% of 11th graders were on grade level.[12]
  • 2009 - 62%, Boys 57%/girls 67% (20% below basic). State - 65% [13]
  • 2008 - 64%, State - 65% [14]
11th Grade Math:
  • 2010 - 49% on grade level. Boys 47%/girls 51% (27% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders were on grade level.[15]
  • 2009 - 51%. Boys 52%/girls 49% (24% below basic). State - 56% [16]
  • 2008 - 63%, State - 56%
11th Grade Science:
  • 2010 - 36% on grade level. State - 39% of 11th graders were on grade level.
  • 2009 - 32%, State - 40%
  • 2008 - 27%, State - 39% [17]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 24% of Highlands School District graduates required remediation in mathematics and or reading before they were prepared to take college level courses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education or community colleges.[18] Less than 66% of Pennsylvania high school graduates who enroll in a four-year college in Pennsylvania will earn a bachelor's degree within six years. Among Pennsylvania high school graduates pursuing an associate degree, only one in three graduate in three years.[19] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.

Dual enrollmentEdit

The high school offers a dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. The students continue to have full access to activities at their high school. Highlands has partnered with Penn State New Kensington and Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC).[20] The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. The state offers a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books.[21] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[22]

For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $23,672 for the program.[23]

Graduation requirementsEdit

The Highlands School Board requires that a student earn 24.2 credits to graduate, including 4 English credits, 4 Mathematics credits, 4 Science credits, 4 Social Studies credits, 2 Arts and Humanities credits, 2.2 Health/Phys. Ed. credits, and 4 Electives credits.[24] Every student must successfully complete one credit of English, math and social studies every year.

By law, all Pennsylvania secondary school students must complete a project as a part of their eligibility to graduate from high school. The type of project, its rigor, and its expectations are set by the individual school district.[25] At Highlands High School, students are required to complete a career portfolio over four years. It includes individual and group projects, visitations to post-secondary schools, community service hours, and career job shadowing, coupled with career awareness activities.

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, for the graduating class of 2016, students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, English Composition, and Literature for which the Keystone Exams serve as the final course exams. Students' Keystone Exam scores count for at least one third of the final course grade.[26]


Tutoring is available to high school students, after school Monday through Thursday from 2:45 pm to 3:45 pm, in math, English, science and social studies.

AP coursesEdit

Students have access to several Advanced Placement courses, including AP English, AP Calculus, AP U.S. History, AP U.S. Government and Politics, and AP Economics. Upon successful completion of the course and achieving a score of 3, 4 or 5 on the exam administered by the College Board, a student can earn college credits. The exams are offered in the area on an annual schedule.

Alleged bullyingEdit

An alleged hazing incident happened on October 5, 2014 at the Highlands High School soccer fields. Sixteen-year-old Highlands student and soccer player Austin Babinsack, who has autism, was duct-taped to the goalpost by two 17-year-old classmates and fellow members of the school soccer team. He was left there for 15 to 20 minutes until passers-by noticed and freed him. Soccer coach Jim Turner and the two students were suspended for at least five days. The majority of staff and students united with the soccer players, as they felt there was no ill intentions and believed that the media as well as Austin's mother were trying to exploit the situation and make it into something it was not.[27]

Air pollutionEdit

In 2008, a study released by USA Today, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Maryland indicated that the school may have dangerous levels of chromium in its air, due to its proximity to steel mills of Allegheny Technologies.[28]


The district offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. Highlands School District is a member of the WPIAL and PIAA. Highlands School District teams compete at the class AAA or AA level.

Eligibility to participate is set in school board policy. Students must be passing four major subjects to be eligible. Students declared ineligible are not permitted to practice or play from Monday through the end of the following Sunday.[29][30][31][32]

By Pennsylvania law, all K–12 students in the district, including those who attend a private nonpublic school, cyber charter school, or charter school, and those who are homeschooled, are eligible to participate in the extracurricular programs, including all athletics. They must meet the same eligibility rules as the students enrolled in the district's schools.[33][34]

The district offers the following sports programs:

Boys - baseball 9-12, basketball 7-12, cross country 9-12, marching band (sometimes 8 but usually) 9-12, football 7-12, golf 9-12, soccer 7-12, swimming 9-12, tennis 9-12, track & field 7-12, wrestling 9-12

Girls - basketball 7-12, cross country 9-12, marching band (sometimes 8 but usually) 9-12, soccer 7-12, softball 7-12, swimming 9-12, tennis 9-12, track & field 7-12, volleyball 9-12

Notable alumniEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ http://www.hhsrampages.com/opinion/2011/10/07/category-5-headline/
  2. ^ Rampages
  3. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2010). "Enrollment Projections by LEA".
  4. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (March 15, 2011). "New 4-year Cohort Graduation Rate Calculation Now Being Implemented". Archived from the original on September 14, 2010.
  5. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2010). "Highlands School District - District AYP Data Table". Archived from the original on 2012-10-01. Retrieved 2011-07-22.
  6. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2009). "Highlands School District Academic Achievement report Card 2009".
  7. ^ The Times-Tribune (2008). "Grading Our Schools".
  8. ^ Pennsylvania Partnership for Children (2008). "PA High School Graduation Info by School District 2007". Archived from the original on 2012-11-05.
  9. ^ EL. "Schooldigger.com". Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  10. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2010). "HIGHLANDS HS - School AYP Overview". Archived from the original on 2012-10-01. Retrieved 2011-07-22.
  11. ^ The Rankings: 11th grades, Pittsburgh Business Times, May 15, 2009
  12. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2010). "Highlands High School Academic Achievement Report Card 2010" (PDF).[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education Math and Reading PSSA Results by School 2009
  14. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2008). "PSSA Math and Reading results by School 2008".
  15. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2010). "2009-2010 PSSA and AYP Results".
  16. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2009). "2009 PSSAs: Reading, Math, Writing Results by School and Grade".
  17. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2008). "PSSA Science results by School and District 2008".
  18. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (January 2009). "Pennsylvania College Remediation Report".[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ National Center for Education Statistics
  20. ^ HIghlands School District Administration (2010). "Dual Enrollment".
  21. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education. "Dual Enrollment Guidelines". Archived from the original on 2014-10-17.
  22. ^ "Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement". March 2010.
  23. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (August 2009). "Dual Enrollment Fall Grants 2009-10". Archived from the original on 2013-10-20.
  24. ^ Highlands High School Administration (2010). "Highlands High School Student Handbook". Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-10-05. Retrieved 2011-07-22.
  25. ^ "Pennsylvania Code §4.24 (a) High school graduation requirements". 2003.
  26. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (September 2011). "Pennsylvania Keystone Exams Overview". Archived from the original on 2014-02-23.
  27. ^ Estes, Ben (2014-10-08). "High school coach suspended after boy with autism duct-taped to goal". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  28. ^ Yerace, Tom (2008-12-10). "Pollution around Highlands schools among worst in nation". Valley News Dispatch. Tribune-Review Publishing Company. Archived from the original on 2008-12-11. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
  29. ^ Highlands School District Administration (2010). "Highlands School District Athletic Handbook" (PDF).
  30. ^ Highlands School District Administration (October 2004). "Highlands School District Extracurricular Activities Policy 122" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-28. Retrieved 2011-07-23.
  31. ^ Highlands School District Administration (October 2004). "Highlands School District Interscholastic Athletics Policy 123" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-28. Retrieved 2011-07-23.
  32. ^ Highlands School District Administration (October 2004). "Highlands School District Athletic and Cheerleading responsibiliites Policy 123.1" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-28. Retrieved 2011-07-23.
  33. ^ Pennsylvania Office of the Governor Press Release (November 10, 2005). "Home-Schooled, Charter School Children Can Participate in School District Extracurricular Activities". Archived from the original on October 23, 2014.
  34. ^ Highlands School District Administration (February 2006). "Highlands School District Extracurricular Participation of Home Schooled Students Policy 137.1" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-28. Retrieved 2011-07-23.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 40°37′04″N 79°43′37″W / 40.617843°N 79.726903°W / 40.617843; -79.726903