A report from “The Best Schools” released this week named Phillips Preparatory School in Mobile County as one of the top 50 middle schools in the United States.

The magnet school offers a college preparatory curriculum and serves 840 students at its location in Midtown Mobile.

Phillips was the only school in Alabama to make the list, which acknowledges schools that “have found a way to provide 7th and 8th graders with a rich school experience that prepares them superbly well for high school, college and life.” 

Phillips has already been named as a Blue Ribbon school by the U.S. Department of Education, along with 11 other schools in the Mobile County Public School System (MCPSS).

Like all of the county’s magnet programs, enrollment is determined through a lottery system.

“There is no criteria for getting in. All of our students are given the exact same opportunity for a great education,” said Principal Brenda Hartzog. “We set high expectations. We don’t care what your socio-economic background is — just come as you are and be willing to work. Make that commitment and sacrifice and we will prepare our students not just for college, but beyond.”

Authors of the report, available here, looked at National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test results in science and math as well as results from state standardized tests.

Phillips Preparatory School is ranked 42nd overall.

The report praised the extra curricular offerings at the school.

“In addition to the core classes, students may take classes in band, choir and drama. Students may also participate in basketball, track, cheerleading, football and volleyball,” it read. “Students are offered participation in various clubs such as FCA, German Club, History Club, journalism, Scholars Bowl, speech and video production, to name a few.”

The school also offers advanced courses, such as Algebra I, which allows students to earn high school credit while in the eighth grade, and a wide selection of foreign languages.

The school has nearly 100 percent participation in the PTSA (Parent, Teacher, Student Association), signifying parents’ commitment to the school.

When students leave Phillips, they attend several Mobile County high schools.

So each year, Phillips hosts a “senior reunion” and invites its alumni back to campus to meet with current students and talk about their future plans.

The reunion was held recently for the Class of 2014.

“What they learned here got them through — the organizational skills, the study habits, the high-order thinking skills and the writing. They’re ready for college,” Hartzog said. “When I look at all the places they are going – every one of them – they have college plans and it is so rewarding. It really is.”

Hartzog said that lets her know the school’s programs are working.