Mount Carmel Elementary students celebrate the school's designation as a Reward School. Jeff Bobo photo.
MOUNT CARMEL — On Thursday Mount Carmel Elementary School students celebrated their achievement of being only one of 40 Tennessee schools to achieve “Reward School” status for both progress and performance in April’s state testing.
Starting Friday it’s back to the grind, as students start working toward the next round of state testing in April of 2013 with an eye toward repeating this year’s success.
Students took a breather Thursday, however, as MCES hosted a celebration assembly in the gym, after which students were loaded on school buses bound for Tinseltown in Bristol, Va., where they were treated to a 3-D movie.
Principal Bobby Wines said following Thursday’s celebration that all the key elements are in place for the school to repeat its success in 2013. Also present is the desire, both on the part of the teachers, staff and students.
Wines attributed the school’s success to “developing positive relationships between teachers, staff and stakeholders — and developing a plan and having high expectations. We expect our kids to do well, we expect our staff to perform at their best, so high expectations means a lot.”
Among the dignitaries in attendance for Thursday’s MCES celebration were Sen. Mike Faulk, Rep. Mike Harrison, County Mayor Melville Bailey, Mount Carmel Mayor Gary Lawson, members of the school system’s board of Education and Central Office, and Director of Schools Charlotte Britton.
“I am so proud of all of the students of Mount Carmel Elementary for studying hard last year, for having great attendance, and coming to school prepared to learn,” Britton told the student body. “Congratulations to the teachers and support staff at Mount Carmel Elementary for your hard work and dedication to teaching and learning. Congratulations to Mr. Bobby Wines, the principal, for being the instructional leader of the school.
“Mr. Wines, you have a wonderful staff that engages the students in active learning focused daily on the curriculum in order to build strong academic skills for all of the students.”
Reward Schools comprise the top 5 percent of schools in the state for performance as measured by overall student achievement levels; and the top 5 percent for yearly progress as measured by gains in student achievement.
Although 169 Tennessee schools met the criteria in either performance or progress, only 40 met the standard in both categories.
Two of those schools are in Hawkins County, the other being independent K-8 Rogersville City School which will host its own celebration Oct. 5 at 1:30 p.m.
Harrison told the students the state legislature will adopt a resolution honoring their achievement when it begins its next session in January.
“Aside from congratulating you for what you did, I want to thank you at the same time,” Harrison said during the assembly. “In the state legislature there are 99 members. There’s only 40 schools in the state that did what you all did, and in my district I’ve got two of those. I can go back to Nashville in January and stick my chest out and be proud that I’ve got two of the best schools in Tennessee.”
Although Thursday was all about celebration, Wines said Friday and the next seven months will be all about doing what it takes to reach this achievement again.
“It’s always difficult to repeat anything, but we feel like we’re on the right track,” Wines said. “We’re going to look for ways to improve. We’re not going to just sit on the track thinking that we’re on the right one.
“We’re going to try to find ways to get better.”