Education head to visit Petal, Lamar Co. schools

By HASKEL BURNS,

The Petal and Lamar County school districts showed up and showed out during this year’s Mississippi Statewide Accountability System, with Petal earning the No. 1 school district in the state and Lamar County placing ninth in the state.

Because of those achievements, State Superintendent of Education Carey Wright will stop by one school in each of those districts during her fourth annual “Celebration of Excellence Tour” next week, in which she honors high-performing districts across the state.

Wright will make her first stop of the tour from 9:30-10:15 a.m. Oct. 8 at Petal Upper Elementary School, followed by a visit to Oak Grove High School’s Performing Arts Center from 11-11:45 a.m.

“Student achievement is clearly on the rise, and I want to personally congratulate everyone in these school districts on their hard work and dedication to student learning,” Wright said in a statement. “I look forward to visiting school districts each year, and the fact that I have so many on this year’s schedule speaks to the quality of education that our students are receiving. As schools across the state improve, our students reap the rewards of an education that better prepares them to achieve their goals.”

Wright will be joined by district leaders, school board members, teachers, students and community members at each stop, where speakers will discuss the achievement of the districts.

“I think it’s great that our state superintendent is traveling to Petal to recognize our efforts in the classroom, and I think it’s great for our faculty, staff and students,” said Matt Dillon, superintendent of the Petal School District. “It’s just another way to recognize their accomplishments and what we’ve been able to do in the district consistently.

“She’s been three other times to our district, so every year since she’s started the tour she’s visited the district. We’re just very, very proud to be able to recognize our great faculty, staff and students, and I think it’s great for our community as well.”

The accountability system, the results of which were released about two weeks ago by the Mississippi Department of Education, assigns a performance rating of A, B, C, D and F for each school district based on established criteria. Schools with grades 3-8 can receive up to 750 points, while end-of-course-assessment schools – as well as districts – can earn up to 1,000 points.

In addition to Lamar County’s No. 9 statewide ranking, Oak Grove High School was the top-performing school in the area in terms of individual schools. That school came in at sixth in the state for individual schools, earning an A grade and 790 of a possible 1,000 points.

“We are pleased that Dr. Wright is continuing her Excellence Tour and that the Lamar County School District will be recognized,” Lamar County superintendent Tess Smith said. “It is always a pleasure to be able to recognize our students and staff for their achievements.”

Wright will finish out the first day of the tour at the Poplarville Special Municipal Separate School District, before traveling to central Mississippi – with stops including the Clinton Public School District and the Rankin County School District – the next day. All told, Wright will have visited 31 districts across the state during the tour, which concludes January 8 at the Hancock County School District.

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