BALDWIN — This month, Baldwin High School was one of 44 schools in the state named academic state champions by Bridge Magazine.

Schools given this honor were chosen from among nearly 770 public and charter high schools across Michigan. Rankings were based on the percent of students at each school deemed career or college ready, when adjusted for student poverty levels.

"I'm extremely proud of the work the staff continues to do to help our students achieve academically, and I'm proud of the students who have embraced that challenge," remarked Stiles Simmons, superintendent of Baldwin Community Schools. "It's the fourth consecutive year we've made this list. The students and staff should feel validated in their achievement, as should the community who supports us."

Each year, the publication ranks how well schools are preparing their students for the future. This year the rankings only took ACT scores into account. Previously, Michigan Educational Assessment Program test scores were also used, but the test was discontinued last year and replaced with the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress. Since it was the first year for the M-STEP, it was deemed too unreliable to give an accurate comparison of students' comparative skills. Since only ACT scores were used, it was only high schools which were ranked, instead of middle and grade schools as they usually are.

Simmons credited the district's atmosphere of encouraging students to achieve beyond high school combined with their caring attitude towards student needs as a driving factor in earning this ranking.

"We have a very caring and nurturing environment," said Simmons. "Our students have a lot of social and emotional needs and we work very hard to meet those needs through our teachers, Community Mental Health programs and Family Health Care initiatives. We are increasing the rigor with which we push our students and we try to figure out the best ways to motivate them with programs such as the Baldwin Promise and instill in them the belief that to be successful, you need to be academically sound."