The latest Sports Illustrated cover story ranks the scholar-athletes at Poly High School as number one in the nation, documenting the school’s legendary prowess both on the athletic field and in the classroom. A hundred copies of the magazine arrived at Poly just as the school was celebrating its high ranking by Newsweek as one of the best high schools in the U.S.
"We’re the only school to make Newsweek and the cover of Sports Illustrated in the same week," beamed Poly co-principal Shawn Ashley. "How special this place is. How fortunate we are to be here."
In what Sports Illustrated deemed "the most selective ranking in all of sports," Poly topped the list of more than 38,000 high schools in the U.S., including 1,000 that were eligible for the magazine’s list of the nation’s top athletic programs. Criteria for "The 25 Top Sports High Schools in America" included all-around excellence during the past 10 years, state titles won and college athletes produced.
Writer Alan Shipnuck detailed how Poly has lived up to the motto inscribed above the school’s front entrance: HOME OF SCHOLARS AND CHAMPIONS.
"What is all the more remarkable about Poly is that many of the athletes really are scholars, just as the sign says," wrote Shipnuck, who praised the school’s rigorous magnet, PACE. Students in PACE "have a profound effect on the ambitions of the entire student body," said Shipnuck. He quoted Ashley: "College is all the PACE kids ever talk about, and that becomes part of the culture of the school. It makes college a tangible goal and a reachable destination for students who might otherwise never have considered it."
The article includes praise from Poly alumni including tennis great Billie Jean King and New England Patriots two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Willie McGinest. It also lists the top 25 schools in the nation. The only other California schools to break into the top 25 were Mater Dei in Santa Ana (ranked sixth), and De La Salle in Concord (ranked 11th). Both are private schools.