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Good things come to those who work

Dear Editor, the Times,

Demopolis High School social studies department head Danny Wasson and I recently returned from Washington, D.C., where we accepted the 2008 No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon School award.

On behalf of the faculty and students, we accepted the highest honor that any of the 137,000 American public and private schools may receive.

On Tuesday, Oct. 21, the United States Department of Education presented the Blue Ribbon School award to 329 schools, including five from Alabama. Interestingly, five states had no schools represented, and the state of Michigan had one. One.

Prior to the presentations, National Teacher of the Year Michael Geisen affirmed in a speech that Demopolis High School is doing things right. The diverse strengths and learning styles of our students are recognized, and the giftedness of each teacher is uniquely drawn upon to make each child’s experience positive, productive and life-changing. Rigorous instruction and a strong, relevant curriculum are the foundations of high academic achievement.

Although this is a career honor, a lifetime achievement and a mountaintop experience for each educator involved, Demopolis High School is not a perfect school. Oddly, our awareness of this fact played no small role in earning this award.

Brutally honest, and sometimes painful, assessments of our strengths and weaknesses were part of that process. Vigorous, innovative and compassionate responses to the many challenges we faced, and continue to face, played a great role in becoming what the United States Department of Education proclaimed on Tuesday, before the entire nation, as a “model” school.

This recognition is not a temporary designation. Demopolis will be a United States Blue Ribbon School as long as its doors remain open. Yet, this award has prompted teachers and administrators each day to work harder, and to work smarter to get better. Much better.

And, someday perhaps, we may grow close to perfection.

Today, Demopolis High School students and teachers will pause to relish this amazing achievement. Demopolis City leaders may proudly inform prospective businesses and industries that children of their employees would be able to attend one of only 56 public high schools in this country to receive the 2008 Blue Ribbon School award.

We are grateful to the Demopolis community for its support, and welcome all to join us as we recognize our accomplishments.

Isaac P. Espy, Jr.

Principal

Demopolis High School