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Title I Distinguished Schools: 4 Newton schools make list

COVINGTON -- Four Title I schools in the Newton County School System again are named distinguished schools.

The Georgia Department of Education announced Wednesday that Heard-Mixon, Palmer Stone, Rocky Plains and West Newton elementary schools made the state's list of Title I Distinguished Schools for the 2009-10 school year.

To be on the list, the school must be a Title I school and have made Adequate Yearly Progress for three or more years in a row. Title I schools have a high population of students who are economically disadvantaged and receive federal money to assist with their education, according to NCSS.

"We are very proud of these schools for the significant increase in the achievement of their students," said Dr. Steve Whatley, NCSS superintendent, in a press release. "I commend the staff and principals at each of these schools for their dedication to the mission of our school district -- providing educational excellence for all students."

Heard-Mixon, Palmer Stone and West Newton elementary schools have consecutively made AYP for seven years, making the distinguished list for five years. Rocky Plains Elementary has made AYP for four years, making the list for two years.

"Our staff, students and parents continue to work very hard to increase student achievement each year," said Lee Peck, principal of Heard-Mixon Elementary, in the press release. "I am proud that Heard-Mixon has been able to increase student achievement over the past seven years, and it is an honor to work with such a dedicated staff that places an emphasis on increasing student achievement each year."

He said standards continue to increase, and the school community working with all subgroups on the annual Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, which help determine AYP, has become more "vital."

"We are extremely proud of our staff, students and West Newton community for obtaining this standard of excellence," said Dr. Takila Curry, principal of West Newton Elementary School, in the press release. "I would like to personally thank Ericka Anderson, former principal, for her diligence and leadership."

Dr. Lori Thomas, principal of Palmer Stone Elementary School, said she, too, is proud of her school for making AYP for seven years.

"I am honored to be a part of such a wonderful community and school where the teachers, students and their families are truly dedicated to teaching and learning," she said in the press release "I am excited to see the progress we will make this school year as we strive for all students to meet or exceed the standards."

Each of the Newton County Schools on the list received $712 in federal funds for achieving the title.

In Georgia, 896 schools were named to the list this year, earning them a certificate and up to several thousand dollars in federal funds.

"These 896 schools don't accept excuses," State School Superintendent Kathy Cox said in a press release. "There are high standards for students and high expectations for teachers. These schools are focused and determined -- and they are getting results."