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PALO ALTO, Calif. (KRON) — A San Francisco Bay Area school was ranked as the No. 1 best public high school in California for 2022.

Henry Gunn High School in Palo Alto earned the top spot, while five other South Bay schools also made it into the top 20 on Niche’s annual list.

Hundreds of Bay Area students and alumni wrote reviews about their high school experiences for Niche’s surveys and rankings released this week.

The most frequently mentioned downside students described from attending a top school was a hyper-competitive academic culture on campus. If you can handle the pressure, students said the rewards are worth it. Students said they enjoyed having knowledgeable and experienced teachers, enriching extra-curricular activates, high SAT scores, strong connections with classmates, and gateways into prestigious universities.

Niche compiles comprehensive profiles of public and private schools every year and bases its rankings on statistics, as well as opinions from students.

2022 Best Schools List: Find out where your school was ranked by Niche

Best Public High Schools in California

Seven San Francisco Bay Area public high schools made it into the top 20 for California:

#1. Henry M. Gunn High School, Palo Alto Unified School District

Henry M. Gunn High School has 1,996 students with a student-teacher ratio of 19 to 1.

One graduate wrote, “My four years at Gunn (class of ’15) were some of the best in my life. I always came to school happy that I was in a supportive and friendly community, and being involved in theatre with James Shelby was a huge part of that. I actually had a pretty stressful life at home, and contrary to Gunn’s reputation, I felt more at home during school than after, often staying to study and socialize in the library until it closed. One of the things that is most special about Gunn is the teachers. With some clear exceptions, the teachers were extremely competent and friendly, and they held students to high standards. I always tried as hard as I could in school, in large part because I wanted to make my teachers proud.”

#3. Saratoga High School, Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District

Saratoga High School has 1,368 students with a student-teacher ratio of 20 to 1.

A graduate wrote, “I moved to Saratoga in my sophomore year, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I was challenged to learn and achieve beyond what I thought I was capable of. I made life long friends that I still have contact with today. The teachers were of the highest caliber and committed to all students. Their choir program is one of the best in the nation and I would not trade attending SHS for anything. Thank you SHS, you molded me into the man and socially aware individual that I am today. Keep up the great work. A special shout out to Mr. Scribner, Mrs. Doctorow, Mrs. Sutton, Mr. Newport, and Mr. Davis. You made the difference.”

#5. Palo Alto High School, Palo Alto Unified School District

Palo Alto High School has 2,177 students with a student-teacher ratio of 18 to 1.

A senior wrote, “Palo Alto High School can be extremely intimidating at first. With so many affluent students and competitive classes, it can be hard to settle in right away. I will say though that once you find your place either in academics, clubs, sports, or just the right group of friends there really is no better school. It is arguably one of the most well-balanced schools in athletics and academics that also has an amazing sense of community and traditions. Being a student-athlete myself I can’t think of better athletic facilities and coaching at the high school level especially for a public school. I highly recommend attending if you want to have a well-rounded high school experience with some of the best high school athletics, journalism programs, unique classes, and amazing academics all around. This is a school like no other with a tradition and student body that rivals all others.”

#12. Lynbrook High School, Fremont Union High School District (San Jose)

Lynbrook High School has 1,944 students with a student-teacher ratio of 23 to 1.

A junior wrote, “Lynbrook is a great place to keep yourself challenged and productive. You’re given many opportunities to prove your course rigor to colleges, and the environment is stressful but it gives you good armor to protect you in the future. The teachers are very supportive and they always strive to find the best in their students. There are also tons of clubs to choose from that align to your interests, so don’t be afraid to try something new.”

#14. Los Altos High School, Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District

Los Altos High School has 2,253 students with a student-teacher ratio of 20 to 1.

A senior wrote, ” Its academics are strong and the spirit is largely competitive, hence the intellectual student body. I personally feel challenged by this environment, in a good way, as it pushes me to do better and take harder classes. The courses and resources available are, admittedly, underfunded yet still on par with a private school. However, classes missing(such as advanced computer science and math courses in my experience) are available through easy dual enrollment with the neighboring community college, Foothill.”

#17. Lowell High School, San Francisco Unified School District

Lowell High School has 2,871 students with a student-teacher ratio of 25 to 1. 

A junior wrote, “There is a bit of a competition when it comes to studies because this school is known for it’s “smarts.” The amount of assignments I’ve received has not been overloading because my I had all the right teachers. As long as you know how to balance yourself, you’ll do fine here. There are many unique clubs to join and sports you can try out for! All Lowellites are welcoming to new members! Overall Lowell is a great school to attend! You’ll meet all the right people and gain a meaningful experience.”

#19. Mountain View High School, Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District

Mountain View High School has 2,183 students with a student-teacher ratio of 19 to 1. 

A sophomore wrote, “We had variety of AP classes to enrich our students needs. Every semester, we got the chance to challenge our limits (and) explore our future career. Our Wind Ensemble class and Marching Band program really gathered the whole community together. And the big thanks to Jason Kneebone, our outstanding band director (who) served the school for 16 years. He was our school’s asset.”

(Photo by Frank Perry /AFP/ GettyImages)

Best Private High Schools in California

Eleven San Francisco Bay Area private high schools made it into the top 20 for California:

#1. The College Preparatory School, Oakland

#2. The Nueva School, Hillsborough

#4. Stanford Online High School, Redwood City

#5. Castilleja School, Palo Alto

#6. Crystal Springs Uplands School, Hillsborough

#13. Head-Royce School, Oakland

#14. The Quarry Lane School, Dublin

#17. The Harker School, San Jose

#18. The Branson School, Ross

#19. Lick-Wilmerding High School, San Francisco

#20. Menlo School, Atherton