5 area schools honored

Published 7:41pm Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Out of 20 Alabama public schools, four schools from Selma and one from Dallas County were given the prestigious title of Torchbearer for the 2012-2013 school year.

To become a torchbearer, schools must be in a high-poverty area and overcome the odds to become a high-performing school. Elementary schools that showed this outstanding performance include Cedar Park, Sophia P. Kingston, Edgewood, Knox and B.K. Craig.

“We’re just excited that we were able to achieve such a great feat,” said Joe Peterson, principal of Edgewood Elementary. “We’ve been a torchbearer school before and we’ve been definitely working hard to achieve that status again.”

Peterson attributed the school’s success to hard-working teachers and innovative technology used in the classroom.

“It was unexpected but definitely a delight for us to hear that type of good news,” Peterson said.

The Torchbearer School Program was created in 2004 as a way to recognize public schools in Alabama that have shown growth and success in the face of significant economic challenges.

“Torchbearer schools do not allow those challenges to turn into excuses,” said state Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice in a news release. “Torchbearer schools exhibit exemplary leadership, helping all students towards success.”

Frederick Hardy, principal of B.K. Craig Elementary, said although he wasn’t principal during the time Craig qualified as a Torchbearer, he was a part of the teaching staff that made that achievement possible.

“From a teacher’s standpoint, I think it’s wonderful,” Hardy said of achieving the award. “It shows that the faculty and staff really worked hard to make sure the students achieve those goals.”

On being the only Dallas County School to be recognized at a Torchbearer, Hardy said Craig especially stands out at a high-performing school.

“It really was a surprise that we were the only school in the Dallas County School system to earn this,” Hardy said. “As the principal here now, my goal is to take it to the next level which will be a blue ribbon school.”

Bertram Pickney, Cedar Park Elementary principal, said quality teachers that inspire students are what earned Cedar Park the torchbearer title.

“We’re obviously doing something right, so we’re just going to maximize those things,” Pickney said. “We just want to inspire our students to be successful and a productive member of society.”

The Torchbearer School Award Ceremony will take place Feb. 19 at the Capitol City Club in Montgomery. A reception will be held from 5 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. with awards being presented at 6 p.m.

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