The most diverse Massachusetts high schools

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MALDEN – Malden High School and Cambridge Rindge & Latin school are the most racially and ethnically diverse public high schools in Massachusetts, while religiously affiliated schools are among the most diverse private schools in the Bay State, according to reports released by the education research website Niche.

At Malden High School, 28 percent of the 1,835 students are white; 24 percent are Asian; 22 percent are African American; 19 percent are Hispanic; and 3 percent identify as multiracial, according to the report.  The report also notes that nearly 59 percent of Malden High School students receive free or reduced lunch.

At nearby Cambridge Rindge & Latin, 37 percent of the students identify as white; 33 percent are African-American; 13 percent are Hispanic; 11 percent are Asian; and 2 percent are multiracial.

Both schools rank among the top twenty-five most diverse public schools in the nation.  The rankings, by Pittsburgh-based Niche, scores schools on diversity based on the ethnic composition of the student body according to data available from the  National Center for Education Statistics.

But although the diversity of public schools is a reflection of the residential communities in which they are located, diversity in Massachusetts private schools is often a reflection of the the experience the school offers its students and the school’s efforts at outreach to under-represented communities.

Perhaps not surprisingly, then, four of Massachusetts’ five most diverse private schools are religious institutions. According to Niche, Boston Trinity Academy, a private evangelical school, ranking first for diversity in the Bay State and fifth among private schools in the nation. While the student body at the Hyde Park school is more than half white or African-American – 30 percent and 24 percent, respectively – 17 percent of BTA students are Asian, 13 percent are Hispanic, and another 13 percent are multiracial.  Lexington Christian Academy ranks second in diversity, while Catholic schools Pope John XXIII in Everett, and Christo Rey in Boston rank third and fourth respectively. Walnut Hill School for the Arts is the fifth most diverse school in Massachusetts.  

Megan Adzima, director of allocations and partnerships at the Catholic Schools Foundation, said that Catholic schools are deliberately diverse because they are actively working toward serving their community and making education accessible for all. Historically, Catholic schools were meant to serve immigrants – initially many Irish and Italian families. Now, Adzima said, the foundation is focusing on a Hispanic initiative, and serves other immigrant communities also.  Seventy-two percent of Catholic Schools Foundation’s scholarship recipients are nonwhite and 60 percent come from single-parent homes.

Although the challenge for schools with such multiplicity can be a cohesive, intentional community, Adzima said, the beauty is in the unity within the diversity, and students who learn from each other.

“I see anecdotally, in schools that have this diverse makeup that community is stronger and more intentional,” she said. “The thing about Catholic schools, they have universal Catholicity, an umbrella under which all these communities are celebrated.”

Religious schools are also heavily represented on Niche’s list of top 25 most diverse private schools nationwide.  

Contact Kara Bettis at [email protected] or on Twitter @karabettis