Niche ranks the school as #2 in Best Private High School in America

Hannah Shahidi

Niche published its yearly ranking of the best high schools in America Sept. 26. The school moved up to #2 in Best Private High Schools in America after being ranked number eleven last year. Along with publishing national rankings, Niche also released state specific rankings that placed the school at #1 in California for the second consecutive year.

Rankings are calculated based on statistics and reviews from students, parents and faculty, according to Niche. With this information, Niche analyzes data to produce a letter grade for different categories, which are then compiled into one overall grade. The school received an A plus, the highest possible grade, in all five categories: academics, teachers, activities, diversity, college preparation and sports.

Senior Associate Director of Admission Nancy Jeon ’89 said she thinks the ranking will lead to more people viewing the schools website.

“Having a strong ranking will certainly encourage visits to our school’s website, which in turn may encourage more people to consider applying to our school this year or in years to come,” Jeon said.

Assistant Director of Admission Veronica Zapata said she thinks the ranking will lead to an increase in applicants this admission season.

“I think it can certainly bring in more people since people tend to be attracted to rankings,” Zapata said.

Along with working in Admissions, Zapata is involved in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Zapata said she thinks that even though the school received an A plus from Niche for diversity, there is still room for improvement.

I feel like there is still work to be done, but I think that the A plus in diversity can be awarded to the work that has been taking place,” Zapata said. “The last thing I’d want is for people to see the A plus and think that we’re done. I like to think there’s always room for improvement. I definitely think there is more work to be done within our DEI initiatives, but I also want to acknowledge that things cannot change overnight and plenty of work has already been done.”

Upper School Dean Sara Miranda said she doesn’t think the ranking will impact how colleges view the school.

“I think it is unlikely that college and university admission officers pay close attention to high school rankings,” Miranda said. “That said, many colleges already have a favorable view of Harvard-Westlake based on our reputation for excellence that is best exhibited in the contributions our alumni make in college and beyond.”

Shiara Navarro ’25 said she felt proud when she found out about the newly published ranking.

“I was so proud to hear of Harvard-Westlake’s ranking and I know myself and others thought the news was terrific,” Navarro said. “Hearing of achievements like that for your school is so exciting. I wanted to show support for my school, so I decided to post the ranking on my Instagram story. Hearing of the ranking was not surprising, but still mind-blowing.” 

The official Instagram account for all school athletic programs, @hwathletics, posted about the Niche ranking, which received over 1,200 likes. Ava Hakakha ’25 noticed that many students reposted on their Instagram stories.

“When [the ranking] got published I saw that a bunch of people were posting it on their Instagram stories,” Hakakha said. “People are just proud of the school being ranked so well. It’s definitely cool, but I thought it was really surprising that so many people posted it.”