Secretary of Education congratulates district on 'A' rating

By BUSTER WOLFE,

Lamar County educators and students should be patting themselves on the backs and telling other people about their success after state Secretary of Education Dr. Carey Wright stopped at Oak Grove High School earlier this week on her Tour of Excellence to congratulate school districts that earned an “A” accreditation scores recently.

Wright said students, teachers, principals and Lamar County Superintendent Tess Smith should be singing praises about the state’s highest score.

“We’ve got a lot going on here that’s going so well and we need to be our own champions when we are out talking with other people,” she said as she addressed teachers at the Oak Grove High School Performing Arts Center on Monday. “We have the highest graduation rate this state has ever had. We’ve got the lowest dropout rate that this state has ever had. Our proficiency rates are continuing to grow. We are outpacing the nation in our readings on national assessments. That does not happen by accident; that happens because of all of your hard work.”

Being among the state’s elite schools is no accident, Wright told students, teachers and administration.

“The bottom line is you are in the top tier of the entire state,” she said. “That is not insignificant; it took a lot of work to get there. I think it’s a great deal of pride you can have to walk around knowing that you have a school district that has earned an A. I want to put this perspective for you, you need to know how special you are.

“There are 144 school districts in the State of Mississippi; you are in the Top 10 percent. That’s not something to shy away from; that’s something to do an awful lot of bragging about.”

Wright said she wanted to personally congratulate every school district that earned an A.

“I could have sent a letter, but I didn’t,” she said. “I wanted to be face to face, I wanted to see these children that we are responsible for and I wanted to make sure you know how much I appreciate your hard work and determination that got you where you are today.”

Wright told the students who attended the presentation that they had worked hard to get where they are now.

“Your teachers, your principals and your superintendent will tell you that earning an A in the State of Mississippi is not easy,” she said. “It takes a lot of work. We’ve got the highest standards we’ve ever had. We’ve got the most rigorous assessments that we’ve ever had and that is a tribute to your teachers who have stuck through this, insuring that you are learning all of the things that you know and are able to do by the time that you leave us being college- and career-ready.”

Wright also praised Smith, saying, “Leadership starts at the top and you’ve got an outstanding superintendent in Mrs. Smith.”

The school district received a banner from Wright signifying the A accreditation score that it received. The banner is hanging in the hallway of the school district’s offices in Purvis.

Students who also participated in the Tour of Excellence were Oak Grove Student Body President Noah Harris, who presented the welcome; Purvis High School’s Kennedy Hudson, who led the Pledge of Allegiance, and Sumrall High School’s Traces of Blue, which sang the National Anthem. Members of the group are Alaina Broom, Jordan Carpenter, Abby Daughtry, Sarah Hinchey, Peyton King, Madalyn Laird, Arabella Landrum, Shara Lee-McSwain, Keagan Pierce, Carley Sistrunk, Rachel Stevens, Brooke Stuart and Abby West. Jeffery Coulter conducted the group.