Mississippi State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright on Monday came to the Bay-Waveland School District to congratulate the students and teachers for earning an "A" rating.
The district hosted a ceremony for the occasion, which was attended by several local officials and the entire student body.
Richard Bennett, who serves in the House of Representatives representing District 120 and serves as chairman of Education, also congratulated the students on earning an "A'' high performance accountability rating."
"This is a huge occasion that requires celebration," he said. "I know that an 'A' rating doesn't happen by accident. It is a result of innovative leaders, excellent teachers, and hardworking students. I applaud every teacher and student in the school district for earning this rating. Each of you is exceptional. As Chairman of the House of Education, I believe that providing the best public education to all Mississippi children puts us at the greatest place for economic development."
BWSD Superintendent Dr. Sandra Reed recognized students in the district who scored a perfect score on one of the state's assessments.
Mason Bosarge, a fifth-grader at North Bay Elementary and one of the students who earned a perfect score, introduced Wright.
Wright told students that they need to be "very, very proud of achieving an 'A' rating."
"In fact, this is the first year that I will have come to Bay St. Louis and Waveland to present this award," Wright said.
Wright said BWSD is one of 31 districts in the state that earned an "A."
"That's significant," she said. "We have 145 districts and you are one of 31 that earned this distinction. Those of you that are students know that earning an 'A' is a bragging point. Because wherever you go, in the community or not, when you tell people that you are from the BWSD, you are sending a message that you are attending the very best school that Mississippi has to offer."
Wright told the students that it "takes a great education to get anywhere in this world, to be able to do whatever is that you want to do."
"Children such as you who are getting this outstanding education, that is going to put you on a different trajectory in life than children who are not," she said. "And it's my job as the state superintendent to make sure that everybody is getting a good education."
Wright also told the students some of the determining factors for the "A" rating, which includes: Ensuring all children are excelling in ELA, math, science, and social studies; students' growth from year to year; and if students are graduating on time.
Wright said the state also checks to see if districts are working with students who need it the most and providing opportunities to advanced coursework.
Wright also told students that BWSD was the "only district in the state to improve from a 'C' rating to an 'A' in one year" and that Bay High School is ranked 10th in the state.
"You know students, I'm incredibly proud of you and it's obvious that you have worked so hard and I'm here to tell you keep working hard," Wright said. "The harder you work, the more opportunities are going to come your way." Wright said that students need to know they are "changing education in Mississippi."
"You are rewriting the history of education in Mississippi," Wright said. "You are making faster progress than almost every other state in the nation. This is a great time to be involved in education in Mississippi. Student achievement in Mississippi is at an all-time high, we have never been here before."
Reed accepted an award from Wright.
"There are a lot of accolades and a lot of recognitions taking place down here on the field, but really, at the end of the day, most of those belong to you (students)," Reed said. "You guys are the ones that go in under a lot of stress and have to take assessments over and over. And I just want you to know how much we appreciate the fact that you always do your best and that you realize how important education is to you."
Fourth-grader Javien Thompson said it feels "great" to be an "A" district.
"Yesterday's celebration was good, fun, and it means you're a good school," he said.
Thompson said his favorite part of the program was when Wright called out his school's (NBE) name.
Fourth-grader Elizabeth Vaughan said she was happy and surprised that the district earned an "A."
"My favorite part was seeing Dr. Wright give Ms. Reed a reward," she said.