Local middle school honored with Blue Ribbon Award

(Felicia Allyn/WCIV)

GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCIV) -- Five South Carolina schools have won 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools Awards, and one of them is right here in the Lowcountry.Marrington Middle School of the Arts in the Berkeley County School District has been chosen as a National Blue Ribbon recipients.

"We're blessed with incredibly talented and passionate, dedicated teaching and staff at Marrington Middle School of the Arts. They work tirelessly to make sure every child, every child, learns," said Jim Spencer, Principal at Marrington.According to Berkeley County Schools Spokeswoman Susan Haire, this is the first time a SC middle school has won, or has even been nominated as a National Blue Ribbon winner in 10 years.In a release from the U.S. Secretary of Education, winners are said to be either academically superior or demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement."The South Carolina Department of Education commends these schools for earning this prestigious distinction," said Dr. Mick Zais, South Carolina State Superintendent of Education.{} "The students, parents, teachers, and administrators at these schools deserve all the credit for their success." Winning schools have to meet one of the criteria listed below: Schools that have at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds and that show dramatic improvement in test scores to high levels in English language arts and mathematics.Schools, regardless of their demographics, that achieve in the top 10 percent of schools in the state.All five of South Carolina's National Blue Ribbon Schools Award winners met the first criterion, with more than 50 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds.{} All five schools received a letter grade of "A" on their 2012 federal accountability report cards.The 2012 recipients include:Hammond Hill Elementary School, Aiken County School DistrictMarrington Middle School of the Arts, Berkeley County School DistrictForestbrook Elementary School, Horry County School DistrictOak Grove Elementary School, Lexington School District OneSouth Kilbourne Elementary School, Richland School District OneOfficial award ceremonies will take place in Washington D.C. on Nov. 12-13, where the national winners will receive Blue Ribbon School flags and engraved plaques. A press release from the South Carolina Department of Education described Marrington Middle School of the Arts:Marrington Middle School of the Arts serves 400 students in grades 6-8.{} In addition to having a neighborhood attendance zone, the school offers additional seats to other Berkeley County School District students interested in the arts-infused curriculum.{} A key to the school's success is the shared philosophical conviction that all students can learn.{} At the school, on-site staff development has focused on authentic literacy, effective classroom strategies, and the inclusion of informal assessment techniques to inform the instructional process. {}The school's culture reflects data-driven decision-making and high expectations held by all staff members.{} Teachers are integral in retrieving and analyzing their students' data.{} Through the use of data, teachers are able to identify when students begin to struggle and can quickly intervene by enriching the curriculum, equipping students with consistent practice and assistance until they can demonstrate mastery of the standards.In 2006, the school began to infuse the arts into the academic curriculum, and this ongoing focus on the arts has greatly contributed to the school's achievements. A highly-talented group of teaching professionals has joined forces to produce diverse lesson plans that combine students' artistic passions with the academic standards.{} By emphasizing dynamic creative instruction and building on active partnerships within its community, Marrington Middle School of the Arts provides countless opportunities for each student to build a legacy of success.