A surge of excitement is flowing through two high schools in Sampson County after being honored for educational success.
Midway High School and Sampson Early College High School were among 109 in North Carolina achieving bronze medals in the 2016 U.S. News & World Report Best High School rankings. The recognition is based on academics, graduation rate and several other factors.
In the calculations, more than 600 schools in the state were included in the report. There are 29 with silver medals, 109 with bronze and 15 with gold.
Midway Principal Monty Strickland said he was honored about the recognition.
“It’s always nice to be awarded for the efforts of our teachers, staff and students,” Strickland said. “We work hard everyday and we’ll continue to work and hopefully build on this.”
Strickland added that Midway has great support from the community and parents.
“I think that’s where it starts,” Strickland said. “We just build upon the foundation that they have and try to incorporate several things to help students be successful, rather it’s going to college, going out into the military or going into the workforce. Our staff works long hours to ensure the success of our students.”
Dr. Eric Bracy, superintendent of Sampson County Schools, said the recognition is a validation of how the schools focus on academics and careers.
“We are proud of the students, staff and leaders of these schools for attaining a spot among the bronze award winners,” Bracy said. “Our district is committed to preparing students such that they enter college and careers prepared at the highest levels. We aspire to the goal of each of our high schools making this list in the future.”
Susan Westerbeek, principal of Sampson Early College High School, is also feeling proud about the recent news and showed appreciation for students, staff and parents.
“I think it shows our students’ dedication for our students being prepared for their college and career in the 21st century,” Westerbeek said.
She said the students are unique and dedicated to taking on the challenges of rigorous studies.
“They take on a task of taking all honor classes,” Westerbeek said. “They’re dedicated and they want to be successful and succeed.”
Jessica Tyndall, a guidance counselor at Sampson Early College High School, said everyone is proud as well.
“It’s definitely an honor,” Tyndall said about being recognized for graduation records, college readiness and test performance. “We’re very excited to be recognized. Our students and our staff work very hard.”
Tyndall added that the school located on the campus of Sampson Community College, gives students the opportunity to not only get a high school diploma, but a two-year associate degree or college credits.
“That’s a big piece in preparing our kids for college and the workforce,” Tyndall said. “We really push our kids to their maximum potential.”
“Our teachers put in a lot of effort,” Tyndall said. “Not just in the classroom, but they do a lot of things outside of school to encourage and we try to provide a very supportive environment for our students.”
In 2014, Sampson County was one of four districts to earn a spot on the National AP District Honor Roll. It recognizes school systems that have significantly improved the number of students taking advanced coursework for college preparation. It’s considered a proved way to improve academic rigor.
According to news release from Sampson County Schools, U.S. News & World Report worked with RTI International, a North Carolina-based global nonprofit social science firm, to produce the rankings. RTI implemented the U.S. News comprehensive rankings methodology, which is based on these key principles: that a great high school must serve all of its students well, not just those who are college bound, and that it must be able to produce measurable academic outcomes to show it is successfully educating its student body across a range of performance indicators.
The analysis included a look at almost 20,000 public high schools across the country. In a major change, U.S. News added a new step this year focused on graduation rates. Schools now have to meet or exceed a national standard high school graduation rate to be considered top-performing schools and to be ranked at a national level.
“A four-step process determined the Best High Schools,” according to the U.S. News & World Report. “The first three steps ensured that the schools serve all of their students well, using their performance on the math and reading parts of their state proficiency tests and graduation rates as the benchmarks. For those schools that made it past the first three steps, a fourth step assessed the degree to which schools prepare students for college-level work.”
More information about the awards is available on the web at http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.