Not even two months after the Carver Center for the Arts and Technology celebrated an unprecedented showing in a national arts competition, the Baltimore County magnet school has been recognized again.
The College Board, the nonprofit association that administers the SAT and the Advanced Placement Program, announced yesterday that Carver has the strongest AP studio art program in the world among schools of similar size.
"I could do a Leonardo DiCaprio on the bridge of the Titanic right now: We're the king of the world," said Joseph Freed, principal of the Towson school.
The news was tucked into a 56-page report released yesterday - the College Board's first Advanced Placement Report to the Nation - in which the association highlighted a small, medium-size and large school that "leads the world in helping the widest segment of their total school population attain college-level mastery" in each of 34 subject areas in which the rigorous AP program is offered.
The designations were awarded to schools in which the greatest proportion of students scored at least a 3 on a particular Advanced Placement exam. Students who earn a 3, 4 or 5 on an AP test can earn college credit, advanced placement or both when they enroll in a college or university.
"To students, nine to 15 college credits are just nine to 15 credits," Freed said. "To parents, nine to 15 credits could be $10,000 to $20,000, depending on where their kids are going to school. It's a big deal."
Nearly 15,000 schools worldwide participated in the AP program last year - all but 760 of them in the United States. More than 1.1 million students took about 1.9 million AP exams last year, said the College Board.
Of the 5,313 schools that offered an AP course in studio art last year, Carver had the greatest percentage of successful students among all "medium-sized" high schools with 500 to 999 students.
"The recognition is great," said Abdullahi Farah, 17, a Carver senior who lives in Owings Mills. "But just being around these people every day, I knew this was such a great and powerful environment for art."
Carver was one of two Maryland schools recognized as leaders in a particular Advanced Placement course. The other, Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, was named the exemplary large school in AP human geography programs.
In early December, the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts announced that seven of 25 finalists in its visual arts competition were Carver students - a feat that competition organizers said was unprecedented.
Yesterday's recognition from the College Board is not accompanied by a cash award or flag to display outside the school on York Road. Freed said he might get a certificate. But that's not the point.
"This brings tremendous prestige, a lot of bragging rights and a huge amount of pride," the principal said.
However, a banner is now in the school's lobby proclaiming the recognition. But like so much else hanging in the 720- student high school, it was made by the students and faculty in Carver's art department.