McDuffie County Schools representatives formed a "fun convoy" to Atlanta on Friday, May 11 for the annual Georgia Department of Education Schools of Excellence banquet at the Georgia World Congress Center. School Superintendent Mark Petersen and principals, teachers, paraprofessionals and parents from all four of McDuffie's elementary schools attended the celebration.
"It's wonderful, it's a big celebration," said Donna Bennett, the assistant principal of Maxwell Elementary School. "I wondered if there are any other counties that have every single school present. That's a big accomplishment for us and a lot to be proud of."
The event is held annually to recognize Title I Distinguished Schools, which are those that have met or exceeded Adequate Yearly Progress for three or more consecutive years and have not been on the Unsafe Schools Choice Option list within the last two years.
Schools that made AYP for four or more consecutive years also are provided a financial award based on the poverty level of the school, the number of consecutive years of making AYP and the amount of available funds. The number of schools honored and the amount awarded varies from year to year.
The banquet was hosted By State School Superintendent Kathy Cox and the keynote speaker was Governor Sonny Perdue. Each school could take eight representatives to the banquet. Dearing Elementary Principal Laura Hughes said each principal was called up to the stage to receive a certificate and have their pictures taken with the state superintendent.
"It was a time where they honored us... Our teachers and our students work so hard and... it just recognizes how hard they've worked," Dr. Hughes said. "But to me, AYP is based on test scores and attendance; and, I think there's so much more to what we do than just that. But it was nice to be able to take a group of people...and celebrate."
Two McDuffie Board of Education members - Georgia Hobbs and Ella Mae Samuels, attended the banquet also. Mrs. Hobbs said the event "was real nice," but would not comment further until she had polled "her fellow board members." She did not issue any further statements.