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Wake County Public School System celebrates top national honors from Magnet Schools of America

April 22, 2024

conn teacher high fives student


Two Wake County Public School System magnet schools this weekend received the highest national distinctions awarded by Magnet Schools of America.


Athens Drive Magnet High School - Center for Medical Sciences and Global Health Initiatives received the Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence, given annually to the top magnet school in the country. 


Conn Magnet Elementary School - School of Entrepreneurial Design received the Donald R. Waldrip Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence, denoting it as the second-best magnet school in the nation and the nation’s top magnet elementary school. 


The awards were announced this Saturday at the MSA annual conference in New York City.


Athens Drive Magnet High School receives top honor

Athens Drive Magnet High School was recognized for its innovative programs in medical sciences and global health initiatives. The school’s magnet theme integrates global health issues into the regular curriculum, helping students hone their problem-solving skills and bringing real-world relevance to essential academic standards. For example, math students may use epidemiological data to draw conclusions about the impact of the Zika virus.


Students also may choose to join one of three pathways in the school’s Health Science Academy to gain deeper knowledge and hands-on experience in a medical or global health career:

  • Medical Sciences; 
  • Emergency Medicine; 
  • Animal Sciences. 

Under the guidance of Principal Amanda Boshoff, the school has integrated this unique theme, helping all students with real-world problem-solving and preparing many for impactful careers in medicine and global health.


“I am so proud of our students, staff, families, and supportive community for earning this recognition as the best magnet school in the nation,” Principal Boshoff says. “This award reflects our deep commitment to educating future leaders in medicine and global health, and helping all students see how what they are learning in the classroom can be applied to the real world. I’m also excited for the opportunity to let more people know about the truly amazing things happening at Athens Drive every day, where we will continue to prioritize diversity, academic excellence, and curriculum innovation. I can’t wait to see what the future holds as we build on this success."


Conn Magnet Elementary School receives Waldrip Merit Award of Excellence

Conn Magnet Elementary School of Entrepreneurial Design was honored with the Donald R. Waldrip Magnet School of Merit Award of Excellence, the nation's second-highest magnet school award, for its exceptional design thinking curriculum.


Entrepreneurial Design teaches students to think like entrepreneurs when solving problems. ”CONNtreprenurs” are taught to:

  • Take risks;
  • Explore new ideas or identify improvements;
  • Utilize a design-thinking approach;
  • Be innovative;
  • Fail forward.

"This award reflects our high expectations and the remarkable efforts of our students, who are preparing to be the innovative leaders of tomorrow,” says Principal Gabriel Chidester. “It showcases the dynamic, forward-thinking environment that propels both our school and our students toward greatness. And it is yet another reminder of the value of magnet schools, where students learn to value diversity while receiving a unique and stimulating education."


About the MSA Awards

The Magnet Schools of America’s annual awards recognize excellence in magnet school education, evaluating schools based on academic achievement, diversity promotion, integrated curricula, and community partnerships. The 2024 awards were presented at a special ceremony during the MSA National Conference, which was attended by over 1,800 educational leaders.