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Orono High School Principal Dave Benson has been named Person of the Year by the Long Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. This honor is reserved for an individual or business that goes “above and beyond to make this area a great place to live and work.”
Benson was recognized at an event on Saturday, March 4 at Burl Oaks Golf Club. Each year, proceeds from the evening fund chamber scholarships for Orono High School students.
Benson joined the district in 1993 from Lewiston, Idaho, to become principal of Orono Middle School. He had 10 years of teaching experience and nearly 10 years of being a principal in Idaho. In Orono, he was responsible for building the district’s middle level program as well as guiding development of the new middle school. It opened in 2000.
Benson was named principal of Orono High School effective for the 2005-06 school year. Ten years ago, there were seven Advanced Placement courses offered. By the 2015-16 school year, there were 19 AP classes and five additional courses that grant concurrent college credit. Thirty-one percent of the Class of 2007 took and passed at least one AP course compared to 71 percent in the Class of 2016.
Other progress made during Benson’s tenure at the high school includes the expansion of courses in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and courses in World Language.
For the past three years, Orono High School has been among a select number of schools nationwide to participate in the Global Learning Network. This allows OHS to compare the performance of its 15-year-old students to those around the world. The most recent international results, released December 6, 2016, show Singapore as the top country followed by Japan and Estonia. The average score of Orono students who took the latest test was higher than Singapore’s average score as were the percentage of Orono students who ranked in the top levels of the test. (See more information about the comparison here.)
During the 2014-15 school year, Orono High School was one of only two high schools in Minnesota to be distinguished by all four of the national media outlets ranking high schools in the United States: Newsweek, The Daily Beast, The Washington Post and U.S. News and World Report. The high school has also been named to the AP Honor Roll, designated as a Minnesota School of Character and received Top School Award from AFS-USA Intercultural Programs.