September 20, 2012
schools High Performing
Holly Springs High School is celebrating a record-setting step up the academic ladder.
For the first time ever, the school is ranked High Performing, based on state tests students took last year. It is the second highest of seven levels as assigned by the Mississippi Department of Education.
“You made history,” principal Cedric Richardson told students gathered in the auditorium for his “State of the Hawks” address to wrap up homecoming week.
They cheered and cheered – loudly.
“A lot of people said this school couldn’t do it,” said Richardson, who was named principal prior to the 2008-09 school year. “They said we had too many problems with our students. But we did it.”
For the second straight year, the Holly Springs School District, as a whole, graded Successful, the third highest level. Both the high school and the junior high school advanced from Successful to High Performing. The intermediate school remained Successful.
The high school’s climb has been rather amazing.
This year’s passing rate in Subject Area Testing included 96.7 percent in Algebra I, 94.3 percent in Biology I and 67 percent in English II.
State averages were 82 percent (Algebra I), 75 percent (Biology I) and 73 percent (English II).
“We are well above state averages in Algebra I and Biology I, and we’re not far from the state average in English II,” a happy Richardson said. “We’re definitely moving forward.”
In 2008, Holly Springs High School was At Risk of Failing. The passage rate in Algebra I four years ago was only 26 percent (now it’s 96.7).
“We were in the lowest five in the state (in 2008) for passing rate on Algebra I,” he said.
“There was a lot of community chatter. They were saying that Holly Springs High School is not a good place to educate your child, that Holly Springs High School has problems. But we weathered the storm.”
In 2009, the high school moved up to Academic Watch. In 2010, it was Successful for the first time ever, and in 2011, it was Successful again.
“We had been Successful long enough,” Richardson said. “It was time to be a High Performing School.
“We want our students to know they can achieve at high levels. We want them to know they can perform as well as those students at Oxford, DeSoto Central or Pontotoc. We want them to know they are receiving a quality education.”
He said in past “State of the Hawks” addresses, Holly High’s academic showing has been compared with other area schools. But that’s not the case anymore.
“You’re competing against yourself,” Richardson said. “Your biggest challenge will always be yourself. And your biggest enemy will always be yourself.”
Then he challenged the students.
“In 2012, we will celebrate being a High Performing School,” he said. “But our goal is to be a Star School (the highest) in 2013.”
He said back in 2008, the goal was for students to pass the tests.
Now, the goal is for all students to perform advanced or proficient.
“We have success, but we also have a challenge,” Richardson said. “We’ve set goals. Students, now it’s time to go higher.”
He also emphasized the climb in the school’s graduation rate – now at 81.5 percent – higher than lots of schools around the state.
“It’s hard to make it in this society today without a high school diploma,” Richardson said. “We want to continue to meet the needs of our students and prepare our students to perform at high levels and be able to compete in a global economy.”
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