South Habersham named 'distinguished school'

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  • South Habersham Middle School is one of just 11 middle schools to make Georgia's list of distinguished schools
    South Habersham Middle School is one of just 11 middle schools to make Georgia's list of distinguished schools
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Habersham County Schools are racking up awards and recognitions for the 2019-20 school year, and this time it's thanks to South Habersham Middle School. 

The school was listed as one of the Georgia Department of Education's 2019-20 Title I Distinguished Schools, making it one of 11 middle schools in the state of Georgia and the only middle school in the Pioneer Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA) to make it list. 

According to a press release, this means SHMS's 2019 College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) score of 86.3, which came out in October, is among the top 5% of all Title I Schools in the state. Title I Schools are those in which children from low-income families make up at least 40% of the school's enrollment. 

"I was very pleased to learn that South Habersham Middle School is the only middle school in our RESA to make the list," said Habersham County Superintendent Matthew Cooper. "It is clear that South Habersham Middle School has become one of the best middle schools in our state. I want to commend the students, staff, and parents at South Habersham for being named a 2019-20 Title I Distinguished School. This honor places South Habersham Middle School among a very elite group of schools in our state. It is evident that South Habersham Middle School is accomplishing our mission of 'Success for All Students.'"

Principal Daphne Penick said the distinction is well deserved and especially rewarding because of the outstanding work she sees on a daily basis from the staff and students. 

"Every adult in this building strives to provide the best education and school experience for each and every one of our students," she said. "I am equally impressed with the efforts of our students, many of whom seek to overcome their own obstacles every day."

Last year, Penick said students at SHMS were challenged to "level up" in all areas of their life, both academically and personally, such as through their work ethic, attendance, positive social interactions and good decision-making. 

"In true SHMS Rebel fashion, our students rose to the occasion!" she said. "With an increase in student achievements, tremendous student growth, high  student attendance, and overall exemplary performance, South Habersham is beyond blessed to now be able to showcase the hard work of students, faculty and staff as we proudly receive this recognition."

Pam Dalton, director of secondary schools, is proud of the initiatives the school has in place to help struggling students. She said the teachers and staff work hard every day to support students in all areas. 

"Mrs. Penick, Mr. (BJ) Addison (assistant principal) and their team are student-focused and are determined to make South Habersham stand out as an example of how schools can turn challenges into opportunities and make a difference in the lives of the students they serve," Dalton said.