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3 schools recognized for academics
Honorees include Settles Bridge, Shiloh Point and Vickery Creek
School WEB 1
First-grade teacher Lynne Ragatz uses a dictionary as she works with student Aaron Justin So on Tuesday at Settles Bridge Elementary. The school, along with Shiloh Point and Vickery Creek elementaries, was named a 2011 Georgia School of Excellence. - photo by Jim Dean

Three Forsyth County elementary schools received some good news Tuesday.

Settles Bridge, Shiloh Point and Vickery Creek were named 2011 Georgia Schools of Excellence.

“We are thrilled that the hard work of our teachers and students at these three elementary schools has been recognized,” said Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Buster Evans.

“It reflects that they’ve got a good solid school improvement and academic achievement program going on in that school.
They’ve made good plans and made good goals and they’ve reached those goals.”

With the addition of the three, the local school system has had 11 campuses earn the distinction over a five-year span.

Settles Bridge was one of 13 schools statewide recognized for making the greatest gains in student achievement over the past three years. The feat was more remarkable, officials said, because the school was already high achieving.

“We at Settles Bridge Elementary School are humbled to be recognized in such a prestigious way,” said Principal Donna Morris.

“This award exemplifies the tireless and long-term commitment of our teachers, students and parents partnering together to achieve excellence in education.”

Evans said the improvement at the school in southeastern Forsyth is consistent with the system’s “commitment to our community not to be satisfied where we are, but to try to be the very best we can be.”

Shiloh Point and Vickery Creek, both in south Forsyth, were listed as performing in the top 10 percent in Georgia.

Beyond high ranking, a school of excellence must also have made adequate yearly progress for three consecutive years as part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

It must also have met or exceeded the state’s mean scores in science and social studies testing.

“I am so pleased that the extraordinary efforts of Shiloh Point’s students, staff, and families have been acknowledged with the… designation,” said Principal Rebecca Johnson.

Both Johnson and Ron McAllister, principal at Vickery Creek, said their staffs were humbled and honored by the recognition.

McAllister also said he was appreciative of the $1,000 donation from Georgia Natural Gas.

The gas company is giving the prize to each of the 26 schools recognized statewide — 13 for greatest gains and 13 for being in the top 10 percent.

Each of the honorees was selected by the state to represent their congressional districts.

Forsyth is in two districts, 7 and 9, a political division that doesn’t always sit well with residents. However, Evans said that situation does give the school system an extra opportunity to compete. 

He added that the excellence distinction is given only to schools that have been in existence for five years, which means Forsyth is just getting started. Several schools in the district are about to hit the five-year mark.

While eager about the potential for other local schools, Evans said he’s proud of this year’s recipients.

“It affirms that we’ve got high-achieving schools,” Evans said. “[What I’m also] really thrilled about is that when you have [Settles Bridge] that’s already high achieving receive the Georgia School of Excellence based on a high level of change, I think that sends a pretty strong message that we may be high achieving, but we’re continuing to perform at an even higher level of achievement.”