West Lincoln declared Blue Ribbon school

Published 8:00 pm Sunday, September 9, 2012

West Lincoln Attendance Center has been declared a National Blue Ribbon School by the United States Department of Education.

     It is one of only three schools in Mississippi to be given the award and one of only 269 in the nation. To qualify for the award, a school must either show overall academic excellence or improvement in student achievement levels.

     West Lincoln Attendance Center Principal Jason Case said the award is “a great achievement.”

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     “It’s been a lot of hard work, effort, commitment and teamwork,” Case said. “We’ve got an outstanding faculty and staff here.”

     West Lincoln has been a “high performing” school on state tests for seven years in a row, according to Lincoln County School Superintendent Terry Brister. The “high performing” designation is the second-highest level a school can reach, next to “star.”

     Brister said everyone in Lincoln County can be proud of the award.

     “It’s a national recognition that people in the school district can be proud of,” he said. “They can be proud of what they’ve achieved. It may be just one school, but they represent our entire district. When a school the size of West Lincoln achieves this, it is gratifying.”

     Case said his faculty and staff are a united team for one goal.

     “I have a philosophy about education and about instructing kids, and I have a faculty and staff that have bought into it,” he said. “We’re a united team for one common cause of educating young people. When I say focus, I mean tunnel vision. That is the main reason we go to school every day: to instruct young people. We take that seriously.

      Case said that spirit goes through everyone: bus drivers, secretaries and everyone else, not just the faculty and staff.

     In the near future, Case said there will be a celebration once everything becomes official and they get a letter from the Mississippi Department of Education. The school will receive a flag and other items that come with being named a Blue Ribbon School.

     Case informed his staff of their achievement Friday.

     “They were astounded by it,” he said. “It’s definitely a milestone.”

     Case said it couldn’t have been done without hard work.

     “The students have really worked hard,” he said. “I’ve preached to these students that success doesn’t come easily. It comes with a price tag. They’ve probably heard that speech many times. I was taught at a young age things aren’t just given to you.”

     Case also thanked parents and said without their support, the recognition would not have been possible. He said being from the area makes him want to do even more to make West Lincoln a better place.

     “I’m from the West Lincoln community, and anything I can do to make our community better I will do,” he said. “A great way to make your community a better place is through education.”

     Another part of being chosen as Blue Ribbon School is school officials making a trip to Washington, D.C., on Nov. 12-13 to be honored. However, Case said he has not made such plans yet.

     “The U.S. Department of Education is encouraging me and a faculty member to be there,” he said Friday. “I got an email from them this afternoon.”

     Brister said it takes an entire community to achieve an honor like West Lincoln’s.

     “The West Lincoln community has fully taken on this challenge,” he said. “They’ve bought into it. Now it paid off. It can positively impact other schools.”