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State superintendent visits Heard-Mixon

Heard-Mixon Principal Lee Peck accepts an award for his school being selected as a 2011 Georgia School of Excellence in Student Achievement for making gains in reading and math scores. He is pictured with, from left, Jeff Meadors, Newton County Board of Education vice chair; Kyla Clark with Georgia Natural Gas; State Superintendent of Schools John Barge; Marquita Wilkins, school assistant principal; and Ken Proctor, director of Elementary Education at the Newton County School System. The school also received a $1,000 check from Georgia Natural Gas.

Heard-Mixon Principal Lee Peck accepts an award for his school being selected as a 2011 Georgia School of Excellence in Student Achievement for making gains in reading and math scores. He is pictured with, from left, Jeff Meadors, Newton County Board of Education vice chair; Kyla Clark with Georgia Natural Gas; State Superintendent of Schools John Barge; Marquita Wilkins, school assistant principal; and Ken Proctor, director of Elementary Education at the Newton County School System. The school also received a $1,000 check from Georgia Natural Gas.

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Special Photos Georgia Superintendent of Schools John Barge addresses a crowd of several hundred students, staff and guests at Heard-Mixon Elementary School during his special visit on Friday to congratulate them in person for being named a state school of excellence earlier this school year. Looking on is Jeff Meadors, Newton County Board of Education vice chair; Ken Proctor, director of Elementary Education at the Newton County School System; and school Principal Lee Peck.

COVINGTON -- State Superintendent of Schools John Barge visited area schools on Friday to congratulate them in person for being named state schools of excellence earlier this school year.

He made a stop in Newton County on Friday morning at Heard-Mixon Elementary School to present them with an award for being named a 2011 Georgia School of Excellence in Student Achievement for making gains in reading and math scores.

"In 25 years in education I have never seen 500-plus more well-behaved students in one assembly," said Jeff Meadors, vice chair of the Newton County Board of Education, about the visit. "The kids were perfect, and this was just plain fun. I could not be more proud of Heard-Mixon students, faculty, staff, parents and community."

Meadors said he was especially honored to attend the event because the school is named after the Heard side of his father's family.

"It is an amazing little place," he said about the school. "Parents attended as well to make it a really nice community event. These kids will never forget this day."

Barge visited with students and staff at the school, and presented administrators with a $1,000 check from Georgia Natural Gas before departing in a helicopter.

Because Barge visited several schools on Friday spread out all over the state, he said it was cheaper to fly instead of driving and spending the night in a hotel, according to Sherri Davis-Viniard, director of Public Relations at NCSS.

Every year, the Georgia School of Excellence program honors one school from each of Georgia's 13 U.S. congressional districts that has shown the greatest improvement and one school from each congressional district that is in the top 10 percent of schools in the state based on reading and mathematics scores.

Heard-Mixon is in the 8th Congressional District, which includes a portion of Newton County and extends as far south as Tift County.

According to information provided by the Georgia Department of Education, the program places emphasis on student achievement as measured through state-mandated assessments.

The schools must also meet additional criteria, including making Adequate Yearly Progress for at least three consecutive years; meeting or exceeding state mean scores in science and social studies; not being considered a persistently dangerous school under the No Child Left Behind law; being in existence for five years; and not being the subject of any state investigation within the last year.

Staff Correspondent Aimee Jones contributed to this report.