PDT Staff Writer
The Wheelersburg Local School District received a Banner of Excellence With Distinction from Jane Sonenshein, district representative to the Ohio State Board of Education, in the high school gymnasium Friday afternoon.
A similar presentation was made to Valley Local School District Wednesday night, and another will be presented to Washington-Nile Schools at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
"This is a very special one," Sonenshein said of the banner being awarded to Wheelersburg. "This is not just an Excellent banner, this is actually Excellent With Distinction. This district has not only met the standards to get an excellent, they are also meeting the needs of all their children, every year, exceeding or meeting their years worth of growth, which the most a school can do, really."
Sonenshein said of the more than 600 school districts in the state of Ohio, only 74 achieved Excellent With Distinction honors. Representing 16-and-a-half counties in the state, she said 25 districts in her region were awarded excellent ratings, and only three with distinction.
"It's been remarkable for me in just my four years on the board, to see the growth in all districts. Everybody is working very, very hard to meet the standards to improve, but it's still quite a special thing to be able to do it all, as Wheelersburg has done."
Some of the things looked for by the state before awarding a district Excellent With Distinction honors include test scores, attendance, graduation rate and value added standards.
"(Value Added Standards) is simply a matter of looking at all your students and saying, 'Are you giving them at least one year's growth in a year of school?'," Sonenshein explained.
Friday afternoon, about 1,500 students filed into the Wheelersburg High School gymnasium for an assembly, during which Sonenshein presented the school with a Banner of Excellence With Distinction.
"We're very honored, and we're very proud. It's a result of a lot of hard work and effort by our student, staff, teachers and parents. It's just the culmination of a lot of hard work to be able to be recognized like this by the state education department," said Wheelersburg Superintendent Mark Knapp.
He said the district was awarded a plaque from the state education department once before, recognizing them for an Excellent rating. This is the first time the state has awarded a banner for their honors, and it is the first year Wheelersburg has earned Excellent With Distinction honors.
"We'll make sure it's in a real public place where everyone can see it, because we're real proud of it," Knapp said, with a huge smile on his face.