These 2 Raleigh magnet schools have been named the best in the nation

Two Raleigh schools have been nationally recognized as the top two magnet schools in America.

Athens Drive High School won the Ronald P. Simpson Distinguished Merit Award from Magnet Schools of America, a trade organization that held its national conference over the weekend in New York City. The Simpson Award is the group’s highest honor and goes to the nation’s top magnet school.

Conn Elementary School won the organization’’s Donald Waldrip Magnet School of Excellence Award. That honor goes to the second-best magnet school in the nation.

Both schools will hold celebrations this week.

Athens Drive and Conn are among the network of magnet schools operated by the Wake County school system to fill under-enrolled schools, diversify school populations and provide school choice. Magnet schools include some students who live around the campus as well as students who apply from other parts of the county to get access to the special programs.

Wake has won numerous magnet school awards over the years. Last year, Washington Elementary in Raleigh was named the top magnet elementary school in the nation.

Preparing students for careers in medicine

Athens Drive High is in West Raleigh near Lake Johnson.

The school offers the Center for Medical Sciences & Global Health Initiatives theme. The program helps prepare students for careers in medicine.

“Students in this program become leaders in the medical and health science fields,” according to Wake’s website. “Experiences include STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) pedagogy learning across disciplines, relevant connections between the core curriculum and current topics in medical sciences and global health, community partnerships that offer hands-on learning opportunities, and collaboration with extensive university and corporate partnerships for real-world connections.”

The school board voted in 2015 to make Athens Drive a magnet school to try to attract more families to attend.

Preparing students to be entrepreneurs

Conn Elementary has been a magnet school since 1982. It’s on Brookside Drive in East Raleigh.

Conn offers the Entrepreneurial Design magnet theme. This involves teaching students how to use a problem-solving approach when approaching a task or undertaking., according to Conn’s website.

The students are called “CONNtreprenurs.” The “little thinkers” are encouraged to think creatively and develop innovative solutions to real-world challenges.