JVES celebrates Title 1 distinction

By Shelby Harrell Staff Writer | Apr 21, 2014
Photo by: Shelby Harrell Jonathan Valley Elementary School Principal Heather Hollingsworth congratulates the school and its and students for being named a Title 1 Distinguished School finalist.

Students, faculty and members of the community packed into the gymnasium at Jonathan Valley Elementary School on Thursday afternoon to celebrate the school’s recognition as a 2013 National Title I Distinguished School finalist.

“We’ve been wanting to have a celebration closer to the end of the year,” said Heather Hollingsworth, JVES principal. “It’s to celebrate our past successes while looking forward to future challenges.”

To honor the distinction, students were given a Title 1 Distinguished School medal to wear around their necks and a similar bracelet. Students were also asked to write essays about why they love JVES, and a top essay was chosen from each grade level. Students who wrote the top essays were asked to read it aloud in front of a video camera, and the recordings were played in front of the crowd during Thursday’s celebration.

The top essays about JVES were written by kindergartner Juliet Williams, first-grader Hannah Downs, second-grader Alex Vesper, third-grader Kadie Arrington, fourth-grader Jordan Rathbone, and fifth-grader Mackenzie Snyder.

Hollingsworth learned the school was named a Title 1 Distinguished School Finalist last fall, and she traveled to San Diego, California in February — where the school was recognized at the National Title 1 Conference.

As a National Distinguished School finalist, Jonathan Valley represents the top 1 percent of schools in the state.

Each year, two North Carolina schools are chosen as finalists for two categories: “Sustained Student Achievement” and “Closing the Gap.” Jonathan Valley was selected for the category of Sustained Student Achievement.

The award is based upon three consecutive years of high academic performance in schools with high poverty rates. During the last three years, Jonathan Valley’s free and reduced lunch rate has been over 50 percent. During the same time period, the school experienced “high academic growth” and a “performance composite” of students passing state and federally mandated tests at a rate over 90 percent.

“The best thing about all of this is it proves that not all public schools are broken,” Hollingsworth said. “And it matters that someone, somewhere noticed.”

Brandon Patterson, the assistant director of the Federal Programs and Monitoring at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, attended the celebration to congratulate JVES for its accomplishment.

“Please do not hesitate to wear those medals around your neck — please don’t hesitate to feel proud,” Patterson told the students. “You’re doing some special things here and other schools need to know about it. I salute you. I’m so pleased and proud to be compared to such distinguished, cool people, as well as the distinguished teachers you work with.”

Superintendent Anne Garrett also offered her praise during the celebration.

“It’s obvious that Jonathan Valley is a place where children want to learn and teachers want to teach,” Garrett said. “Thank you and congratulations.”