U.S. News & World Report awarded Othello High School with a bronze rating in its annual rankings of the best high schools in the nation. Principal Carlos Gonzalez said this was a great accomplishment for the school but gives plenty of the credit to former OHS principal Matt Stevens and consultant Becky Downey for helping to introduce college-level courses to OHS students several years ago. When Gonzalez took over as principal of OHS in 2007, the school only offered two Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Fast-forward to today and OHS is offering seven AP courses, opportunities from both Eastern Washington University and the University of Washington for students to earn college and high school credits simultaneously along with several honors courses and Running Start. U.S. News gave a score of 11.7 for college readiness for OHS, which is the third-highest among CWAC schools and only trails Prosser High School and Wapato High School, which earned indexes of 23.4 and 16.0, respectively. "In my opinion, I think this is the one that drives us the most is this college readiness (ranking)," Gonzalez said. "That's the main purpose of high school - college and career readiness. We're getting our students ready for the next level." Gonzalez attributes much of this success to the mindset his predecessors and colleagues helped to build that calls for students to really challenge themselves. He believes even just a student taking a shot at getting into an AP course and then failing still provides plenty of evidence that students are benefitting from striving toward something above the requirements to graduate. "There's different data out there that shows and proves the value of even just participating in a rigorous course and a rigorous test," he said. "You have to push yourself and challenge yourself to get better and it's those students who've elected to challenge themselves that are performing the best down the road." Not long after hearing the good news, Gonzalez attended one of several meetings CWAC principals have each year in Toppenish. Among the represented schools was Prosser, which earned a silver award and ranked 42nd in the state. He said these are great opportunities to collaborate and hopes to bring some of the ideas that led to Prosser's success back to Othello. "The opportunities for growth are endless in our CWAC principal meetings and I find them one of the most valuable collaboration experiences that I can have," he said. Gonzalez expects to continue offering AP courses at the school, but he said OHS is starting to find students are benefitting more from the dual credit opportunities offered by EWU and UW. In fact, OHS is in the preliminary stages of providing a third choice through Central Washington University's Cornerstone program, according to Gonzalez, who said it's still more than a year away from reality. "It was a collective effort," Gonzalez said about the school's accomplishment. "We're going to continue to push ourselves professionally and continue to grow."