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DHS will be honored by state

Demopolis High School will be honored at the state board of education on Oct. 9 for being a “No Child Left Behind” Blue Ribbon school.

“The state board will issue a resolution,” said Dr. L. Wayne Vickers, superintendent of Demopolis City Schools. “(DHS principal) Dr. Isaac Espy and some of the teachers will be on hand.

“Any time the state board of education issues a resolution honoring your school, that’s a big deal,” Vickers said.

DHS was notified on Aug. 4 that it had earned the Blue Ribbon honor. The Blue Ribbon program, administered by the U.S. Dept. of Education, requires schools to meet either of two assessment criteria. It recognizes schools that have at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds that dramatically improve student performance in accordance with state assessment systems, and it rewards schools that score in the top 10 percent on state assessments.

Each nominated school must also achieve “adequate yearly progress” status for three consecutive years.

“It’s not all just about the gains,” Espy said after the announcement was made. “It’s about the gains and sustaining those gains. One big year, one spike, isn’t going to do it.”

Demopolis was nominated due to significant progress in math and reading scores among its black and impoverished students. DHS was one of only three Alabama schools — including Leon Sheffield Magnet School in Decatur and Spain Park High School in Hoover — to earn the honor this year.

Since 1982, only 26 Alabama high schools have earned this honor, and since 2003, only seven were named Blue Ribbon Schools. Demopolis is the only one of those seven not located in a metropolitan area.

From the 2004-05 school year to the 2005-06 school year, the high school posted a 22-percent gain in black students who exceeded state standards in reading. Impoverished students gained 20 percent. Each sub-group saw a slight decrease in the 2006-07 school year, but were still well above the 2004-05 numbers.

“This is a lifetime achievement for Demopolis High School,” Espy said after the announcement was made. “Professionally, it’s a lifetime achievement for me and our teachers here.”

Espy and Danny Wasson, the head of the DHS social studies department, will travel to Washington, D.C., for a special ceremony on Oct. 20-21 to accept the recognition.

“This is a crowning achievement for the entire school system,” Vickers said following the announcement.