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Hedgesville High School honored with national award

July 12, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Berkeley County, W.Va., high school appears to be in select company for academic achievement.

Hedgesville High School was among 20 high schools nationwide to earn the Pace-setter Award, which was presented to members of the school faculty and administrators Wednesday at the Southern Regional Education Board's national conference in New Orleans.

Alan Richard, communications director for the SREB, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that advises state education leaders on ways to improve education, confirmed that more than 1,100 high schools in 32 states were eligible to receive the High Schools That Work award.

"It's a school that is definitely on the right track," Richard said in a brief interview during the conference, which continues through the remainder of the week.

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Fairmont Senior High School in Fairmont, W.Va., was the only other state school to be recognized for obtaining the SREB standards, which include an 85 percent or higher graduation rate based on state criteria. The same percentage of students also must have completed concentrations in particular study areas and other goals outlined by the High Schools That Work Initiative and federal law known as the No Child Left Behind Act, Richard said.

Hedgesville Principal Don Dellinger, school administrators and faculty were honored Wednesday by Dave Spence, president of the SREB during the general session of the annual High Schools That Work Staff Development Conference.

"I think it's special for the faculty and staff, also for our students and the community," said Dellinger, who admitted he wasn't initially aware the award existed.

"It just means we have to keep working harder to keep making improvements," Dellinger said.

According to information provided by Richard's office, the Southern Regional Education Board's High Schools That Work school improvement initiative is based on the premise that most students can master rigorous academic and career/technical studies if school administrators and teachers create a school environment that is motivational, challenging and supportive.

The initiative, according to the SREB, is the nation's first large-scale effort to engage state, district and school leaders in partnership with teachers, students, parents and the community to equip all students with the knowledge and skills needed to graduate from high school and succeed in college and the workplace.

To earn the Pacesetter recognition, the school had to implement the High Schools That Work design, teach students a rigorous curriculum linked to a specified program of high school study, have high achievement and completion rates, and meet the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) criteria of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, according to the SREB.

Spence praised Hedgesville High School for its achievement, pointing out that it takes dedication and hard work on the part of the state, district and school leaders and teachers to make progress in preparing students for college and a career in an increasingly competitive world, according to a news release by the SREB.

Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny P. Arvon said Hedgesville High has historically been a leader in academic achievement in Berkeley County and among the "top of the top" schools in the state.

"The award recognizes schools that are preparing their students for 21st century learning," Arvon said.

"I think this recognition speaks volumes of praise for the faculty, staff, and the students ... We are very proud of their accomplishments."

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