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Laurel Schools are on the move
It's that time of year again. It's time to put away the swimming gear, order that last snow cone and get our minds right for the start of another school year. However, this won't be a regular school year for Laurel. This is going to be a special year filled with many first time events and lots of old school excellence. We are poised for greatness and let there be no doubt that the Laurel Schools are on the move.
As a matter of fact, when I think about the future of the Laurel Schools, it reminds me of the perfect combination of old school tradition and new school pride. The 2012-13 school year will begin a new era for our beloved Stewart M. Jones Building as we prepare it to host all ninth graders in the district. This historic landmark on Fifth Avenue has been educating children for over 80 years and now will once again serve as a gateway of hope and challenge for all students. Speaking of bringing back greatness, we are excited about the reinvestment of JROTC at Laurel High School. We already have over 100 students signed up for this fabulous program and are delighted to have Major James Howard and Sergeant Tonia Jennings join our school family. I also can't wait to see competitive track meets being hosted once again in R.H. Watkins Stadium due to the new Olympic style track installed late last spring.
Another area of old school tradition is the ability to say, without reservation, that our students are competing academically in a way that brings back the pride so many have in the "Cardinal and Gold." It's easy to have pride in a football program that plays for a state championship, a choir that performs in Carnegie Hall, a culinary arts program that represents the state of Mississippi in Baltimore, Md., and a south state championship boys’ basketball team. But, school is supposed to be about reading, writing and math. I am thrilled to share with our community that the children of Laurel are competing in these academic areas with the same passion they bring to the football field and the stage.
The test scores are in from last year's MCT2 and SATP and even though they will not be officially released from MDE until September, I am excited to give you a glimpse of what was an outstanding performance by our students. The Laurel Schools had double digit increases at four of our six schools. I can't wait to share with you the final results from Nora Davis, Mason, Oak Park, and Laurel High School. The results will show that we have significantly increased the number of students scoring proficient or advanced, and reduced the number of students scoring minimal. The entire Laurel School District has grown by leaps and bounds and now finds itself with a great chance of moving from a Mississippi Department of Education rating of "At Risk of Failing" to "Successful” in just two short years.
How did we do it? It is really a rather simple formula. Take talented children with great potential, surround them with teachers who love them and treat them with dignity and respect, throw in a commitment to high expectations, add a dash of no excuses, and you get amazing results. Let it be known that I am not surprised by these results. One walk through our schools and you will see an environment that is healthy, and filled with the hardest working staff in the country.
As we embark on year three of what is now going to be known as the Decade of the Tornado, I want to thank you for supporting us with your time, talent and prayers. Most importantly, I want to thank you for believing in our kids. Working together, we can create a place where every child has a chance to reach for greatness.
May the Holy Spirit protect us and guide us during the upcoming year!
Chuck Benigno, Ph.D.
Superintendent for Laurel School District is currently under construction. Please come back later.