Students and teachers at South Forsyth Middle got a surprise Wednesday.
State School Superintendent John D. Barge visited the school to recognize them for earning a 2010 Georgia School of Excellence distinction.
Every year, at least one school from each Georgia congressional district is chosen as a School of Excellence for either high student achievement or large gains in student improvement.
"South Middle School was chosen because you all were in the top 10 percent of all schools in Georgia in reading and math," Barge told the student body during an assembly.
He reminded students to be grateful for the support of their teachers and parents in helping them earn the recognition.
"You didn’t do it by yourselves," he said.
Barge also encouraged the students to make good choices in life.
"Are you writing your own story?" he asked them. "Remember, the choices you’re making now can impact the rest of your life."
He also encouraged teachers to be "co-authors" as students write their own stories.
"You have the ability to change the story not only for the children of this generation, but also for generations to come," he said.
In addition to Barge’s recognition, the school also received a $1,000 reward from Georgia Natural Gas.
Gina Niederhauser of the company explained that Georgia Natural Gas honors every Georgia School of Excellence with the donation, which can be used however school leaders see fit.
In addition, Vicky Callahan of United Healthcare said school staff would receive a "stress-free day" thanks to her company.
"That means a massage therapist will be coming in to give massages to every staff member," she explained.
Principal Sandy Tinsley thanked the students and staff for their hard work.
"We hope you all will realize your accomplishments and continue to give us your best every day," she said.
"We just adopted a new motto of ‘Excellence Never Rests,’ because we hope to continue to stay a Georgia School of Excellence and … continue to show everyone just how smart South Forsyth Middle School students really are."