By Michael Buhler
A trio of local schools find themselves in elite company thanks to their hard work and achievement.
The schools – Eisenhower Middle School, Holy Spirit Catholic School and St. Marks School – are among 71 Kansas schools – 42 elementary schools, 11 middle and junior high schools, and 18 high schools – that recently were recognized as part of the sixth annual Governor’s Achievement Awards that honored the top performing schools in the state.
Eisenhower and Holy Spirit both are located in Goddard, while St. Marks is part of Renwick USD 267 and is located near Colwich, about five miles north of Goddard.
“I’m thrilled for St. Marks’ kids and staff,” Renwick superintendent Tracy Bourne said. “I know they’ve worked really hard to get the award and honor. It is a testament to the attention to details they have made over the last year. They have a lot of processes they’ve put in place that have helped and enabled them to score among the highest in the state.”
The Governor’s Award has become something of a tradition for Renwick USD 267 – Garden Plain High School won the award from 2008 through 2011.
“I think the best thing is it says we do a good job,” Bourne said. “The state recognizes the fact that we’re scoring as well in the assessments as we are. But we also recognize that education is more than scoring high on the state assessments. We hope to see a Renwick school represented with this award for years to come. However, there are more than state assessments that go into educating students.”
St. Marks was recognized with a presentation at the December meeting of the USD 267 Board of Education.
Meanwhile, EMS principal Jerry Longabaugh believes that his school’s award says a lot for his school and the community it is a part of.
“I think it’s a great compliment to our faculty, staff and students,” Longabaugh said. “Our teachers and students have done an exemplary job of teaching the standards and working toward excellence. Our parents are very supportive. These kids went through kindergarten through sixth grade, and those teachers prepared those kids very well. I think it’s been a great team effort. Our teachers and our students have done a phenomenal job.”
And Longabaugh has seen that effort and performance out of the school and community for a long time.
“I’ve been here for 16 years in Goddard. Our school community is blessed with parents and patrons that value education,” Longabaugh said. “Here we’re blessed to have the tools and resources – everything that we need to score at a high level. Our school community – our parents and even the business people – values educators.”
EMS is having a ceremony on Thursday to celebrate the award.
Meanwhile, Holy Spirit principal Kelly Bright believes the award shows that the school’s hard work has paid off.
“This award is a big honor for Holy Spirit Catholic School,” Bright said. “I am very proud of my teachers and students who have worked so hard to get to this level of recognition. Each year we continue to see growth in not only our enrollment, but also the quality of education the students receive.”
Holy Spirit is having its ceremony to celebrate the award on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m., when Bob Voboril, superintendent of schools in the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, will join them to present the award.
To receive the award, schools must have achieved the Standard of Excellence in both reading and mathematics for 2012 and have made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in both reading and mathematics and one additional measure in 2012. For elementary and junior high schools, the additional AYP measure is attendance.
In addition, the school must have been in the top five percent of schools in both reading and mathematics on the 2012 state assessments at its respective level.
“I want to offer my congratulations to all of the schools receiving the Governor’s Achievement Award,” Kansas Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker said. “This is a significant award that recognizes exceptionally high achievement. It certainly is something in which the students, staff, parents and communities of these schools can take great pride.”