Area schools awarded honor by U.S. News

Published 10:24 pm Thursday, December 11, 2008

Four area schools were given national honors by being named among U.S. News & World Report’s Bronze Medal Schools.

The honors were announced with a release announcing the magazine’s second annual list of America’s Best High Schools.

Demopolis High School, Linden High School, Marengo High School and Sweet Water High School each ranked among 50 Alabama schools to earn Bronze Medalist honors. Only one Alabama school, Loveless Magnet High School of Montgomery, earned Gold Medalist status, while three Alabama schools ranked among the Silver Medalist schools.

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“We are really happy,” said Demopolis City Schools superintendent Dr. L. Wayne Vickers. “I think it shows that we’re doing the things that quality high schools are supposed to do.

“It’s quite an honor to be named among 54 Alabama high schools out of 378 statewide, so we are in very good company. It shows the quality of the faculty, staff and administration of our schools. It’s an honor for our school system and for Demopolis High School. Now, we want to build up and reach Silver or Gold recognition.”

More than 21,000 public high schools in 48 states were rated using a three-step process. The first step determined whether each school’s students were performing better than statistically expected for the average student in the state. The second step determined whether the school’s least-advantaged students were performing better than average for similar students in the state.

Schools that passed the first two steps became eligible for national judging on the final step: college readiness performance, using advanced placement or international baccalaureate test data as the benchmarks for success.

Gold Medalist schools were those among the top 100 high schools nationwide with the highest college readiness index scores. Silver Medalist schools were the next 504 top performing schools, based on the college readiness index. Bronze Medalist schools were the next 1,321 schools that pass the first two steps.

The “America’s best High Schools” issue of U.S. News & World Report was on newsstands on Dec. 8.

“We are really excited,” said Marengo County Schools superintendent Luke Hallmark, who oversees Marengo High School and Sweet Water High School. “A lot of hard work is going on. This shows that the programs that we are trying to put in place are working at our schools. We got two schools in the category this year, and we want our other two schools (John Essex and A.L. Johnson) to get in next year.

“A lot of credit goes to our administration and our teachers. I feel so good about the things we’ve been able to accomplish with a little bit of funding. Money is not everything. We can still accomplish some of our goals, although more funding would give our students more of an opportunity in different areas of the curriculum.”