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High schools in Henry County honored for AP programs

McDONOUGH — State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge has recognized eight of Henry County Schools’ nine high schools for achievements in their Advanced Placement programs and test results. These schools are part of 424 high schools recognized statewide for their 2012 test scores. The number of Henry County high schools receiving recognition increased by one school this year compared to the previous year.

The Georgia Department of Education recognizes schools in five categories based on certain criteria set forth through AP course offerings, students completing certain classes and taking certain tests, and results from the tests. The categories are as follows: merit schools, challenge schools, access and support schools, STEM schools, and STEM achievement schools. This information used is part of the College Board’s AP Report to the Nation.

Noting the importance of challenging students with the level of courses they choose and the engagement that comes in the classroom, Superintendent of Henry County Schools Dr. Ethan Hildreth added, “We are dedicated to helping each student achieve at the highest possible levels. To this end, we encourage and guide students to take rigorous courses such as advanced placement.”

Reflecting on the recent honors from the College Board and Georgia Department of Education, Hildreth said, “This recognition from the College Board and education leaders in Atlanta acknowledges the success of our students and teachers as we continue to raise the bar. We are proud of our students, staff, schools, and community for this achievement.”

An AP merit school is recognized as a school where 20 percent of its students are taking AP classes and exams, and 50 percent of those taking the exams score a 3 or better. Tests are given a grade of 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest scores possible. Union Grove High School was recognized as an AP merit school. The school was one of 47 high schools in the state to receive this distinction.

Union Grove High School Principal Tom Smith points to his school’s concerted effort to grow their enrollment in AP courses and have parallel growth in their test performances as a catalyst for recognitions such as this. This is their second consecutive year to receive this distinction.

“This recognition for our school is a direct result of a lot of hard work,” said Smith. “This is a group effort, and large part of our direction for our school community is to grow in our AP participation and performance. To receive any recognition like this is truly an honor for us.”

If a school has 30 percent of its AP exams taken by students identifying themselves as either African-American and/or Hispanic and 30 percent of these students earned a 3 or higher on their exam, a school receives recognition as an AP access and support school. Dutchtown, Eagle’s Landing, Luella, and Woodland high schools duplicated their honors from last year and continue to make up nearly 10 percent of the list of those recognized around the state in this category.

Eagle’s Landing High School Principal Gabe Crerie noted his school’s continued success in this category, adding, “Eagle’s Landing High School is pleased to be recognized as an AP Access and Support School for the sixth consecutive year. The combined efforts of all — students, teachers, parents, counseling staff — continue to yield positive results for our students and our school as a whole.”

Seven high schools received recognition as AP STEM Schools. Dutchtown, Locust Grove, Luella, Ola, Stockbridge, Union Grove, and Woodland high schools all had students testing in at least two AP math courses and two AP science courses. The various courses that qualify for either math or science are AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Statistics, AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Environmental Science, AP Physics B, AP Physics C, and AP Computer Science. Georgia had 167 schools total achieve this honor.

Stockbridge High School Principal Eric Watson had high praise for his students and staff.

“Certainly this is something we are excited to receive as we have increased expectations on the heels of our development into a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) Academy school,” said Watson. “We are excited to see our hard work pay off with recognitions for our school community’s efforts. This is just a great way for us to move forward while strengthening our expectations for the STEAM Academy.”

Five of the above mentioned AP STEM Schools for the district were also recognized as AP STEM Achievement Schools. Using the same criteria, Locust Grove, Luella, Ola, Union Grove, and Woodland high schools met the added requirement that 40 percent of the same students taking at least two math and two science AP classes score a 3 or higher on the exams. The five Henry County high schools are among 106 total schools receiving this same honor.

At Locust Grove High School, Principal Lisa Gugino, an educator with a background originating in math, was pleased to see her school honored among the state’s best.

“It is always thrilling to receive recognition for your school when your students and staff attain great academic achievements,” shared Gugino. “This honor for being an AP STEM and AP STEM Achievement School is further proof that the course we have set for our students is one that will prepare them for a successful future through challenging coursework. I applaud all of our staff and student body for their commitment to meeting the high academic expectations we have at LGHS.”