Douglas Elementary School was named the top magnet school in the nation on Friday and Wiley Elementary School was named the top magnet elementary school.
Douglas received the Ronald P. Simpson Distinguished Merit Award from Magnet Schools of America, a trade organization holding its national conference in Miami. The Simpson Award is the group’s highest honor and is considered to be the most prestigious award that a magnet school can receive. It comes with a $5,000 cash prize.
Douglas, in the North Hills area of Raleigh, offers the creative arts and science magnet theme. The arts are integrated into all the classes. Students are also provided hands-on science instruction through a science lab and a specialized science teacher.
Douglas became a magnet school in 2000 to help stem a drop in enrollment caused in part by neighborhood families choosing to attend other schools. The popularity of the magnet program and the revitalization at the North Hills area mean Douglas is now serving more students than before it was a magnet school.
Wiley Elementary, also in Raleigh, received the organization’s Elementary Magnet School of Merit Award, given to the nation’s top elementary magnet school. Wiley offers the international studies theme, where students have the opportunity for daily study in one of five world language choices.
Since 1982, Wake has used the magnet program to diversify school enrollments, fill under-enrolled schools and provide additional educational opportunities. Magnet schools offer programs typically not found at regular schools.
Wake’s magnet program has historically done well in Magnet Schools of America’s annual awards list.
Several Wake magnet schools have won the Simpson Award, including Combs Elementary School in Raleigh in 2014.
Last year, Brentwood Elementary School in Raleigh received the Donald Waldrip Award, which goes to the nation’s second-best magnet school. Also in 2015, Wendell Elementary School was named the nation’s top elementary magnet school.