Five Peninsula schools to see state awards

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

Five North Olympic Peninsula schools have received 2013 Washington Achievement Awards for student achievement and will receive those awards at a ceremony Thursday.

State Superintendent Randy Dorn and State Board Chair Dr. Kristina Mayer will recognize Neah Bay and Greywolf elementary schools, and Chimacum, Port Angeles and Port Townsend high schools at an awards ceremony in Lacey.

Neah Bay Elementary received the state’s highest award, “overall excellence,” in all areas of student achievement, and a second award for academic growth.

Neah Bay, Greywolf and Port Angeles High School will be recognized for “high progress,” which is awarded to schools that have been in the top 10 percent for their rate of school improvement over the past three years in math and reading, measured by state test scores.

Chimacum High School was named for special recognition for growth in math achievement, and Port Townsend High School will receive special recognition for growth in reading scores.

Test results from third- through fifth-grade students in 2011, 2012 and 2013 were used to calculate elementary school awards, and 10th-grade test results for those same years were used for high school-level awards.

Awards are given to the schools whose three-year averages in each category places them in the top 10 percent of all schools in the state.

Neah Bay

Neah Bay Elementary’s two awards bring the school’s award count to six this year, said Alice Murner, principal at the small school in the Cape Flattery School District.

“We are very pleased that our students and families and school are being acknowledged for their hard work,” Murner said.

Murner said achievement is an expectation for students in the district, and the students are rising to those expectations.

Because the school will be conducting state testing this week, it will not be able to send a representative to the ceremony, she said.

Neah Bay Elementary is in Neah Bay on Makah lands and has 130 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Greywolf Elementary

Greywolf Elementary’s award for high progress is due to a new master schedule, which allows students to get individually-appropriate instruction, Principal Donna Hudson said.

Teachers can pay more attention to the details of reading and teach specifically to what skills the individual students are missing, Hudson said.

Hudson said that a new math program has been put in place that has been “very good at helping kids with gaps in their math knowledge.”

“The kids work very hard and have a lot of fun,” she said.

Hudson will attend the ceremony Thursday.

Sequim School District’s Greywolf Elementary is located on Carlsborg Road and has 510 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Port Angeles High School

Port Angeles High School’s award for “high progress” is a result of many changes made in the last five years, said Garry Cameron, principal of the school in the Port Angeles School District.

“There is no single magic bullet,” Cameron said.

Cameron said the school has added 16 sections of Advanced Placement or honor-level courses, created interest-based advisory classes, implemented two-period math classes for students who need extra support, and created four-way meetings among students, parents, administration and attendance officials.

“We want to meet the kids where they are, let them know they can be what they want to be,” he said.

Cameron said he expects to attend the award ceremony with two other representatives from the school. The two had not been selected as of last week.

Port Angeles High School has an enrollment of 1,150 students in the ninth through 12th grades.

Port Townsend High School

Port Townsend High School received special recognition for growth in 10th-grade reading scores.

“While any award directed at the high school is welcome, I see the award as a recognition of the whole district’s teaching team,” said Port Townsend Superintendent David Engle.

“Many have contributed to this success rather than a few. I believe this award recognizes that effort,” he added.

The reading achievement award requires that the school also maintains a high level in math scores.

Port Townsend High has an enrollment of about 500 students in the ninth through 12th grades.

Chimacum High School

Chimacum High School received special recognition for growth in 10th-grade math achievement.

“It’s definitely been a specific focus,” said Principal Whitney Meissner.

The school hired a new math teacher two years ago to support the school’s math program.

It also worked with regional education resources to identify how to change its approach to math instruction, both for individual students and to adjust how the whole staff approached the subject, Meissner said.

A math support class is offered twice a day to help those who need extra help.

The math achievement award requires that the school also maintains a high level in reading scores.

Chimacum High has an enrollment of about 340 students in the ninth through 12th grades.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: April 20. 2014 8:22PM
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