|Evansville, Indiana, United States|
|Type||charter high school, International Baccalaureate Programme, Advanced Placement|
|School district||Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation|
|Number of students||336|
|Athletics||Cross Country, Golf, Track, and Tennis|
Signature School is a top-ranked charter high school located in downtown Evansville, Indiana, on the Main Street walkway. The school opened in 2002 as Indiana's first public charter high school. It attracts top tier students and is consistently ranked as one of the top high schools in the United States.
Signature School began in 1992 as a half-day program with 213 students. It offered both morning and afternoon classes for motivated high school students who wanted to be challenged and take higher level courses. The ACE program (The Accelerated, Compacted, Enriched Program) was developed for freshmen and sophomores wanting more advanced English, foreign language, math, and science courses.
By 2001, Signature School had 278 part-time students. After the passage of the Indiana Charter School Law, the staff at the time saw an opportunity to apply for a full-day program, adopt more courses into its curriculum, and become a charter school. In December 2001, Signature School submitted a charter-seeking conversion status to the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation (EVSC) and on February 25, 2002, the EVSC approved the charter. At the time it was Indiana's first public charter high school.
The first graduation ceremony for Signature School students was held in May 2003 in the Victory Theatre. There were 42 students in that first graduating class.
Academics and Programs
Signature School offers students three major study paths: math and science, fine and performing arts, or liberal arts/humanities. Signature School has been accepted into the International Baccalaureate Programme. However, the school also offers Advanced Placement classes for those who choose to not to graduate with an IB diploma. Today, many of the classes are a combination of AP and IB classes. The foreign languages offered at the school are French, German and Spanish. Students begin taking AP courses as freshmen, when they take AP US History, and proceed to take AP World History and AP [English] Language as sophomores. As Juniors and Seniors, all classes are either AP or IB.
Signature School has a focus on academics and the arts. Within its first five years of existence, Signature School has been well known for the many contributions it plays in summer musicals in the region, as well as shows by the "Signature Singers," which were led by teacher Terry Becker until his retirement after school year 2011-2012. Now Tyler Simpson leads these performances. The school is also a major participant in the Indiana State School Music Association competitions.
Signature School prides itself on offering challenging courses for the "self-motivated learner" and for being different from other area schools. The student to teacher ratio is 20 to 1. Many students and parents can access grades and information from a server called Powerschool, which is updated regularly.
The Signature School is located in several buildings in downtown Evansville, Indiana, on the Main Street walkway. These include the fourth floor of the Victory theater; the Robert L Koch II Science Building, which is attached to The Gerling Law Firm offices, the YMCA for PE classes, and the Browning Rooms at Central Library. The school's main building is attached to the historic Victory Theater. The building now known as Signature School was originally a hotel, and was gutted and remodeled to be a school. Because of the building's history as a hotel, many of the classrooms are renovated hotel rooms and remain small in size, and also due to this past as a hotel, the floors are small and there are many of them.
Unlike other high schools, Signature students do not eat in a school cafeteria, but at one of the numerous restaurants located in downtown Evansville. Students who bring their lunches may also elect to eat across the street from the school in a room called the Commons in the 2nd floor of the Signature School Science Center. Students sign up each morning for a restaurant, the Commons, the Grassy Knoll, or a classroom and sign in with a teacher assigned to that restaurant.
The Signature School attracts top tier students and is consistently ranked as one of the top high schools in the United States. In 2010 and 2011 Newsweek ranked the school as the 7th best in the nation. In 2011 the Washington Post ranked it as the nation's 8th best. Out of about 22,000 high schools nationwide, US News and World Report ranked Signature School the 53rd best in 2011. It is frequently the only Indiana school to appear in these rankings. In 2007 it was also listed as one of the top 10 charter schools in the United States and in 2008 was declared a blue ribbon school.
Previous Newsweek rankings have been 54th (2006), 99th (2008), 27th (2009), 7th (2010), and 7th (2011). Previous Washington Post rankings have been 126th (2007), 97th (2008), 23rd (2009), 7th (2010), and 8th (2011). Previous US News & World Report rankings have been 86th (2007) and 68th (2008).
Like any public school, Signature School is free and open to the public. The EVSC does not associate with Signature School nor do they interfere with their style of teaching. Its current executive director is Jean Hitchcock.
- "Signature School". International Baccalaureate. Retrieved May 12, 2007.
- "America's Best High Schools". The Daily Beast. 19 June 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
- Mathews, Jay. "The High School Challenge". Washington Post. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
- "Signature School". US News and World Report. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
- "Evansville School Named Among America’s Best High Schools". Courier & Press. 30 November 2007. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
- "The Complete List: 1,200 Top U.S. Schools". Newsweek. MSNBC. Retrieved November 3, 2006.