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Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

Stockdale High seniors, who will continue in athletics at a division 1 college level, are honored at the high school in this May 2012 photo.

For the second year in a row, Stockdale High School is the leader among local schools that made U.S. News and World Report's annual list of the nation's best public high schools.

U.S. News reviewed 21,035 schools nationwide, and ranked 630 in California, including six in Kern County.

All of the Kern County schools were in the bottom half of the state rankings, but Stockdale only just missed the cut-off.

The magazine awards national gold, silver and bronze medal designations to nationally ranked schools.

U.S. News gave silver to Stockdale, Frontier, Centennial and Ridgeview high schools in Bakersfield, as well as Cesar E. Chavez and Delano high schools in Delano.

Rankings were based on Advanced Placement exams, SAT scores and graduation rates for the 2011-2012 school year.

Stockdale was ranked No. 321 out of 630 schools statewide, and 1,402 of more than 21,000 nationally. That's not far off from 297 and 1,408 last year.

Administrators at Stockdale didn't respond to multiple requests for interviews this past week, but students there said they weren't surprised to hear the school had led the county for two years running.

Stockdale is a very good school, said sophomore Anthony Tillett, 16.

"We have a lot of smart people at this school, and a lot of good courses to take and clubs to join," he said.

Junior Austin Maldonado, 17, said Stockdale offers people with a desire to learn "a lot of opportunities," as well as a wide variety of extracurricular activities so students can "do what they love."

Chavez was ranked No. 422 statewide, and 1,831 nationally, down from 324 and 1,547 last year.

But the school is still thrilled to be nationally ranked, said Principal Ben DeLeon.

"We are very proud of our students and staff who have worked very hard in the face of many obstacles and deserve to be acknowledged," he said.

Frontier High School ranked 465 in the state and came in at 2,049 nationally. It was the school's first time on the list.

"We are extremely pleased for our students and our staff," said Principal Dan Shannon.

He attributed the ranking to "extremely competitive students who really see the value in these statewide tests they're taking," and "teachers who demand good performance and reinforce positive results."

The school already had a concert planned for Tuesday, when the High School Nation tour is sponsoring a performance by pop music artists, so Frontier will use the event to acknowledge its achievement and celebrate, Shannon said.

Centennial and Delano's silver medal designations were an improvement over last year's bronze.

"We're ecstatic!" said Delano Principal April Gregerson.

The key to the rise is working together as a team and paying close attention to student placement, she said.

"A lot of times kids have more potential than they realize, so when we see a student who needs help, we provide the child with the interventions and the tutoring that they need," Gregerson said.

Only one Central Valley school, University High School in Fresno, made California's top 10. University was the state's seventh ranked school.

The other nine schools were in Santa Cruz, Cypress, Cerritos, La Jolla, Oakland, Lennox, Fresno, San Francisco, Arcata and Fremont.

The School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas was the No. 1 school in the nation, according to U.S. News.