One of the area's top middle schools has holistic approach

June 12, 2013 Updated Jun 12, 2013 at 11:23 AM EDT

By Elizabeth Carey

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June 12, 2013 Updated Jun 12, 2013 at 11:23 AM EDT

Business First is out with middle school rankings for 208 schools across WNY and the streak continues for the top rated middle school.

Transit Middle School in Williamsville is holding onto the lead, for the 5th straight year. Number two is City Honors School in Buffalo, the same as last year.

Stella Niagara Education Park in the Lewiston-Porter district jumps into third place, up from 13th a year ago. It's followed by St. Gregory the Great and Casey Middle School in Williamsville.

So how do you jump ten places in one year? Stella Niagara is the only newcomer at the top of the list, soaring from 13th to third. The school was founded back in 1908 by the Sisters of St. Francis. The campus, which is now modern day and complete with a focus on technology, is located between Lewiston and Youngstown and is home to Pre-K through 8th grade classes. Sister Margaret Sullivan has watched as many other schools in the area have cut back on programs like art, music or sports, but she says they are still priorities at Stella Niagara.

"Sometimes one of the first things, if you're looking at it from business point of view, you might say these are extras, but they really aren't because we really believe in what we say nuturing a child's heart, mind and body for life," she said. "And that means the whole child."

There's also the Stella advantage - with a small student-teacher ratio, teachers can spend quality one-on-one time with students.

Kristen deGuehery, the school's director of institutional advancement, says that helps promote the holistic approach to education.

You can get the complete middle school rankings at: http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/feature/schools/2013-wnyschools/2013/06/western-new-york-middle-school.html.

The complete Business First Guide to WNY Schools will hit newstands on Friday.