CATAWISSA - Southern Columbia Area High School was awarded a bronze medal on the 2014 U.S. News & World Report's Best High Schools list.

Of the 19,411 schools eligible for ranking by the magazine, only 2,688 high schools, or 13.8 percent, are awarded a bronze medal. Additionally, 1,519 high schools, or 7.8 percent, are awarded silver medals and 500 high schools, or 2.6 percent, are awarded gold medals.

District Superintendent Paul Caputo said the achievement was made possible through the school's "challenging curriculum," which focuses on math and reading.

He attributed the district's success to the students and staff.

"The staff and the principal and of course, the students are working very hard to take their studies seriously," said Caputo. "They take the subject matter seriously, and we have a good program in place."

To be awarded bronze, Southern Columbia Area High School had to achieve higher than average on state tests, have least-advantaged students perform better than average in comparison to similar students in the state, and have a high percentage of students pass Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams.

Caputo said he felt as though the Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate components of the rankings held the school back from a higher award, but not because the students aren't prepared for higher education. Students at Southern Columbia High School are opting to take courses at local colleges instead of Advanced Placement classes, which is not factored into the rankings.

For the 2013-14 school year, 121 students enrolled in college courses. Total enrollment at Southern Columbia High School is 417.

Even so, Caputo is pleased to see Southern Columbia High School on the list.

"We are very proud of the educational program at Southern and we are confident that we are preparing our students for their workplace and careers," said Caputo. "This ranking is evidence of that."