Today's Paper News Sports Features Business Opinion LEARNS Guide Newsletters Obits Games Archive Notices Core Values

U.S. News ranks WH schools in top third

by I.C. Murrell | September 13, 2023 at 2:06 a.m.
White Hall School District Board President Dr. Raymond Jones reads a list of accomplishments during a board meeting Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)

White Hall High School is placed in a high echelon of high schools in the United States, according to a report from U.S. News and World Report.

The magazine's website offers a database of 17,680 nationally ranked and 277 state-ranked schools within Arkansas. White Hall is ranked 5,622nd nationally, placing the ninth- through 12th-grade campus among the top 32% of high schools in the country. It's also 81st out of 277 schools ranked in Arkansas.

White Hall School District President Dr. Raymond Jones announced the rankings during a regular board meeting Tuesday evening.

"We are excited about that," Superintendent Gary Williams said. "There's a lot of good work throughout our district, and to have our high school be recognized by U.S. News, that's just a tribute to the work they're doing, a tribute to our staff and principals. We're super-excited to have them recognized for their quality of work."

U.S. News' methodology for ranking its high schools is 30% college readiness, 20% state assessment proficiency, 20% state assessment performance, 10% underserved student performance and 10% college curriculum breadth. White Hall High is ranked 2,659th (17th in Arkansas) in college curriculum breadth and 4,374th (33rd in Arkansas) in college readiness index, but is 8,908th in state assessment proficiency, 10,928th in state assessment performance and tied for 12,271st in graduation rate, which is 88%.

Still, school Principal Nathan Sullivan said officials were pleased to see White Hall ranked highly overall and revealed what separates it from the 68% of schools ranked below it.

"For me, it's my teachers," Sullivan said. "Their hard work and dedication to their craft and not taking anything less than excellence from these kiddos. When you raise the standard high, the kids will meet it."

The WHSD also acknowledged its 2022-23 teachers of the year, Moody Elementary special education teacher Janelle Blue and White Hall High counselor Kaitlin Raines.


Jones also announced high school student Kaejah Hodge attended the FCCLA conference and placed second nationally in early childhood education. Middle school teacher Lynzie Miller and high school teacher Mollie Sanford received Advisor Mentor Awards at the conference.

FCCLA is Family, Career and Community Leaders of America.

Several current and former WHHS students were awarded National Recognition from the College Board.

National Rural and Small Town Awards went to: Addison McQueen, Diya Dadlani, Elijah Reinking, Ethan Tomboli, Justin Nicholson, Nathan Alam and Rosie Garner.

National African American Recognition Awards went to Taylor Nelson and Trinity Hagood.


The board unanimously approved a resolution on Act 731 of this year's state legislature, which requires a student transfer be placed on the agenda of a school board meeting for review and approval.

Williams said prior to the general session, districts typically heard requests for transfer either at the beginning of the school year or in January.

"The law changed and it now gives more choice and more opportunities so the parents can choose board-to-board transfers more frequently and often, and now it requires when we receive a request that it would be heard the next board meeting, whether it's a special meeting or regularly called board meeting," Williams said. "With this resolution, the board gives me the authority to review the situation. If it fits our particular situation and our numbers can handle it, I can grant them approval and go ahead and get them enrolled instead of waiting three weeks until our next board meeting."

Williams said he also has the right to recommend denial of a transfer into the district if he feels that would impact the capacity in a campus negatively.

The WHSD board also voted to allow the district to make up a day lost due to a weather event immediately, such as on a holiday like Presidents' Day, rather than make it up at the end of the school year.

During the covid-19 pandemic, an incorporation of AMI (alternative method of instruction) days allowed schools to operate away from the campus without the day having to be made up later. AMI days are no longer available due to state law, Williams said.


The legal balance for the WHSD was $6,151,567 as of Aug. 31, an increase of $743,171 from a year earlier.


The board accepted a resignation from bus driver Mary Lewis, effective Sept. 12.

New classified hires includes Taylor Elementary special education paraprofessional Tiffany Petty (effective today), high school nurses Kristen Ramsey (Sept. 25) and Karen Suitt (immediately), and Moody kindergarten paraprofessional Faraneh Dehaghani (immediately).

Classified contract addenda were awarded to assistant bookkeeper Carol Eagle, transportation shop assistant Matt Myers and bus driver Nathaniel Jackson. Tamara Clark was also hired as a long-term substitute math teacher.

Other moves were approved during a recent special meeting:

Resignations – high school math teacher Bradley Reece and bus driver James Nelson.

New hires – maintenance employee Robert Welden, bus driver Theopherlus McIntyre, maintenance employee and bus driver Brad Kelly, transportation assistant Gary Rittenhouse, bus driver Chris Hopkins and cafeteria intern Jerricah Robinson.

Print Headline: U.S. News ranks WH schools in top third


Sponsor Content