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The banners for Graduation Matters Stevensville and America’s Best High School from U.S. News & World Report hang in the gym at Stevensville High School.

Stevensville High School was awarded the third best high school in Montana by U.S. News & World Report.

Principal Brian Gum said it was “pretty cool.”

“In terms of the Valley, we’re always competing,” Gum said. “U.S. News & World Report looks at a number of things including graduation rates, dropout rates, number of AP (Advanced Placement) classes, enrollment, AP scores, American College Testing (ACT) scores — there’s just a lot of different factors in judging the whole big picture of the school.”

Gum said they have developed many different opportunities for students to be successful at Stevensville High School. One of those is the Montana Behavioral Initiative (MBI), which helps schools create environments that give students support for social, emotional and academic success.

“We’ve been able to generate great things over time,” he said. “This summer we won the MBI Platinum Award — Stevensville was the only school district around to get all three schools at MBI Platinum level, which is important.”

SHS also received the Graduation Matters “Raising Aspirations” award.

“These awards funnel toward these bigger ticket awards,” Gum said. “Our students' AP scores were huge last year."

Gum credited his AP teachers for the success.

“Their work has just been phenomenal,” he said. “It really made a difference with the kids. We’ve really looked at how to make our kids successful with that and it has been a neat process.”