"Best High Schools" (U.S. News & World Report)
In 2020, the district's two high schools, Kenmore East and Kenmore West, were among the top high schools in the U.S. to earn the "Best High Schools" designation in the U.S. News & World Report's Best High Schools rankings. Both schools placed in the top 25th percentile of schools nationwide, outperforming more than three-quarters of the 17,790 high schools ranked in the U.S., and were among the top 25 high schools out of 72 in Western New York. Kenmore East and Kenmore West both received very high marks for College Readiness, a measure of how prepared students are for post-secondary success, and College Curriculum Breadth, a measure of rigorous college-level coursework. Both schools also scored high in Math and Reading Proficiency.
A 'Best Community for Music Education'
For ten years in a row, Ken-Ton has been counted among the tiny fraction of the nation's school districts to be designated as a “Best Community for Music Education” by the NAMM Foundation for its outstanding K-12 music programs. These programs are led by approximately 30 full-time music teachers, many of whom are well-known and accomplished performers in the WNY music community. Ken-Ton students and ensembles routinely perform exceptionally at regional and state-wide competitions. Music faculty and students are also extremely active in the community, providing entertainment at major regional events and venues through partnerships with a multitude of organizations. High school students can also take various music electives including Advanced Placement (AP) Music Theory and International Baccalaureate (IB) Music.
K-12 Art Education & Art Career Pathways
Ken-Ton is widely regarded in the WNY arts community as one of the region’s leading K-12 art education programs. With approximately 20 full-time art teachers and close partnerships with local art galleries and organizations, students are exposed to a robust offering of art education programs beginning in kindergarten. In high school, students can take part in many different art electives as well as Advanced Placement (AP) classes and International Baccalaureate (IB) Art, and they can follow two art career pathways, each with a dedicated sequence of specialized art courses: one for Fine Arts and one for Media Arts. Students can also earn multiple professional certifications such as Adobe and Autodesk.
Technology Innovation & Integration
Significant investments are being made in instructional technology. A 1:1 mobile device initiative has brought more than 2,000 iPads into elementary school classrooms in addition to approximately 2,000 Chromebooks in middle and high schools. Full-time Technology Coaches help teachers utilize these tools to give students more control over their own learning. Other technology investments have included new iMacs for art programs; significant expansion in bandwidth and wi-fi access; GPS tracking capabilities on all school buses for parents; up-to-date industry software in areas such as art and technology; support for videostreaming and live video announcements; and high-quality recording capabilities in music practice rooms.
World Language Education/Opportunities
World language education begins in middle school — when students may choose French, German or Spanish — and continues throughout the high school years, with Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) course opportunities. The Ken-Ton School District also enjoys long-standing school exchange partnerships with schools in Europe for French, German, and Spanish language students. Families in the Ken-Ton community welcome visiting students in the fall, and students travel to Europe in the spring.
International Baccalaureate (IB) Program
Kenmore East and Kenmore West are two of only four schools in the eight counties of Western New York that offer the rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) Program. The curricula and staff undergo extensive certification requirements with international externally assessed grading. The program encompasses college-level coursework in six subject areas completed over the course of two years; a 4,000-word research paper; extracurricular activities and community service; and the IB Theory of Knowledge course. The IB diploma is highly valued in college admissions across the globe. Ken-Ton IB students have been accepted into some of the most selective and highly rated colleges and universities in the U.S. IB students can earn up to 30 college credits depending on college/university requirements and the student’s final IB grade. Many students begin college as sophomores based solely on their IB credits.
Career Academies (NYS-Certified CTE Programs)
Ken-Ton is among the few districts that offer their own NYS-certified career and technical education programs. Both high schools offer four Career Academies – Pre-Engineering, Computer Networking, Information Technology, and Business & Enterprise, which are all NYS-certified CTE Programs. The Career Academies allow students to choose a concentration and course sequence that provides them with a real-life and specialized learning experience in a career area that interests them and internship opportunities through local business and industry partners. They can also earn college credit and graduate with a Technical Endorsement on their diplomas.
Project Lead the Way & Pre-Engineering Curriculum
The internationally recognized Project Lead the Way (PLTW) pre-engineering curriculum is offered in both high schools. Teachers have undergone extensive training and implemented the rigorous PLTW curriculum in order to become PLTW-certified, and Ken-Ton was among the first districts in WNY to implement the new PLTW Computer Science & Engineering curriculum. The programs feature state-of-the-art engineering equipment, including 3D printers, CNC rapid prototyping machines, and robotic automation capabilities. Students are able to take PLTW courses in addition to a variety of technology classes and courses that are part of the district’s Pre-Engineering Academy, which during the 2018-19 school year was designated as a Model Program by the NYS Career and Technical Education Technical Assistance Center (CTE TAC).
High School Electives, Honors & AP
Students can take advantage of an extensive and broad array of elective courses in all subject areas — everything from Parenting and Sports/Entertainment Marketing to Global/Gourmet Cuisine and World War II. Students can also take advantage of the wide selection of course opportunities through the four Career Academies, Project Lead the Way pre-engineering program, and the Art Career Pathways. In addition to the rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) course offerings, both high schools offer Advanced Placement opportunities in 15+ different subject areas, providing students with the opportunity to earn college credit, as well as Honors courses which challenge students beyond the Regents curriculum.
Big Picture Program
Ken-Ton’s innovative Big Picture Program, a non-traditional high school program and the only program of its kind in Western New York, has helped guide its students to graduation with a 94% graduation rate. The Big Picture Program is distinguished by its small class advisories, individualized project-based approach to learning, and internship experiences. Operating in the former Kenmore Middle School Building, the program expanded to include approximately 75 students in grades 8-12 beginning in September 2018.
Athletics: Nearly 50 Varsity Sports
With a long history of athletic achievement, the Ken-Ton Athletics Department oversees nearly 50 varsity sports during the fall, winter, and spring seasons. Boys and girls can compete in a multitude of varsity, JV, and club teams at Kenmore East High School (home of the Bulldogs) and Kenmore West High School (home of the Blue Devils), as well as combined teams and modified sports at both middle schools. Ken-Ton teams and athletes win many accolades each season and routinely count themselves among the best in the Niagara Frontier League (NFL) and Section VI. During the 2021-22 school year, our high schools celebrated four Niagara Frontier League (NFL) championships, three division championships, and one Section VI championship, as well as numerous individual championships and qualifiers for states. Kenmore East and Kenmore West athletes routinely count themselves among the tiny fraction of high school athletes who go on to compete at college-level NCAA Division I, Division II, and Division III programs.
Physical Education & Wellness Programs
Students have access to enhanced physical education options that continue to expand, with students exposed to new opportunities such as snowshoeing and cupstacking. Technology such as heart rate monitors and iPads have been integrated into the PE curriculum. In addition, wellness rooms have been established in each elementary school; intramurals have been implemented at the middle school level; and high school students have access to brand new, state-of-the-art fitness equipment and facilities.
Family Support Center
The District’s Family Support Center provides a unique community-supported family counseling model to address non-academic barriers to learning for students at its own state-of-the-art facility. Through this model, the entire family is incorporated into counseling and support to address all facets of what may be affecting the student's academic progress. The Family Support Center is often a first stop for families in need and connects clients with countless resources in the community. The Family Support Center has been identified as among the most invaluable community assets by the John R. Oishei Foundation’s Mobile Safety-Net Team and UB Regional Institute.
The Ken-Ton School District has made significant investments in science education in anticipation of the full implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This includes engaging and cutting edge science lessons in all schools through cross-curricular and multi-grade level planning; dedicated science class and science teachers at the elementary school level; new science lab equipment including spectrophotometers, electronic balances, and dissolved oxygen probes to facilitate new opportunities in experimentation and exploration; and additional opportunities such as the new Forensic Science course at Kenmore East and Kenmore West.
Primarily financed through NYS Education Department Building Aid, more than $100 million has been invested in school buildings and athletic facilities through the 2009 Capital Project (completed in 2014) and the 2014 Capital Project (completed in 2018). These projects included significant enhancements to middle school/high school auditoriums, fitness facilities, and athletic fields, including the installation of artificial turf at three athletic facilities. In February 2020, voters approved a third $75 million Capital Project, which is expected to be completed in 2024.
The Ken-Ton School District is building a comprehensive framework to promote positive behaviors, cultivate a safe and supportive school environment, prevent bullying, and improve student social-emotional wellness. Each school has an active, individualized program dedicated to advancing character education and expectations through proactive engagement and positive reinforcement. In grades 5-12, peer-to-peer mentoring and student-led transition programs are designed to welcome and orient new students and support them long after they arrive. Other initiatives include classroom-based wellness activities such as mindfulness; extensive data collection to identify student risk factors and intervention/prevention strategies; Restorative Practices, which seeks to repair relationships following negative behavior; and a comprehensive district-wide framework of trauma-informed practices.
Adult & Community Education
Through a variety of adult and community education programs, the Ken-Ton School District is one of the largest providers of lifelong learning for students of all ages in WNY. The Adult Education Department provides a pathway to earning a High School Equivalency diploma, college pathway opportunities, ESL instruction, and more. The district also provides opportunities for learning and growth at all ages, from infants to senior citizens, with an extensive offering of community education programs that have been voted the best in WNY. During the 2018-19 school year, Adult Education programs served 151 students representing 31 different nationalities, and Community Education programs served 2,700 participants in approximately 300 different courses.
Teacher Mentoring & Support
In partnership with the Kenmore Teachers Association, Ken-Ton has fostered a world-class teaching staff in a variety of ways: the innovative Mentor Program, which provides dedicated full-time teacher mentors; the Kenmore Staff Development Center, which provides extensive high-quality professional development in partnership with NYS Teacher Centers; and full-time instructional coaches, who assist with instructional strategies, curriculum planning, and more. Ken-Ton is among the districts in NYS with the highest number of teachers who have earned National Board Certification, considered to be the gold standard in teaching; as of 2020, a total of 24 Ken-Ton teachers have earned this distinction.