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Top award

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Salem, Melbourne schools again in state's top 10

Award: Salem High School Principal Wayne Guiltner presents Student Body President Kayla Cowart with the Golden Apple Plaque at the school's Dec. 6 award assembly.

Two area schools were awarded with THV's Golden Apple Award, both for the third consecutive year, at the University of Central Arkansas Dec. 5.

The Golden Apple Award, which is presented to the top 10 Arkansas school districts based on the best BenchMark and End of Course Exam scores in grades K-12, was given to the Melbourne School District, which is the 9th ranked school, and the Salem School District, which is ranked 6th.

The other eight Arkansas school districts awarded with this honor are: Valley View, Searcy, Bentonville, Lakeside, Greenwood, Charleston, Burgman and Valley Springs.

"The award is designed to recognize public school districts in Arkansas that achieved academic excellence," said THV sports director Craig O'Neil, who created the award in 2004.

Melbourne Superintendent Gerald Cooper said his district is blessed with great community support. He said it is the district's dedication backed by the community that makes Melbourne successful.

"I think our students are dedicated to the point that they take it seriously. And our teachers, I would put their dedication up against anybody's in the state."

Melbourne High School Principal Kelley Powell said he was especially proud of the district because they have been faced with the challenge of administrating the Mount Pleasant schools that are about 15 miles away.

"Both Melbourne's elementary and high school and Mount Pleasant's elementary and high school were factored into our scoring," Powell said. "All four districts have always had great academic records; this award solidifies that fact."

Salem Elementary Principal David Turnbough said the Salem district starts early emphasizing the importance of literacy. "I think it's been a very big factor in our success here," he said.

Salem Superintendent Ken Rich and Salem High School Principal Wayne Guiltner, who accepted the award on the school's behalf Dec. 5, spoke to the high school students at an awards ceremony the following day. Guiltner told his students they were one of only five schools that have been recipients of the Golden Apple Award all three years that it has been given.

"We are very proud of you; you are the elite of the elite," Guiltner said to the students.

Guiltner said that because his students were from one of the state's top 10 schools, it will help them as they further their education. "Being a student from one of the Golden Apple schools gives them an edge in college applications and scholarships."

The highlight of Salem's Dec. 6 awards assembly, for the students, was the announcement that classes would be dismissed at 12:30 on Friday.

"That's what you get for being smart," said senior Kevin Fowler, celebrating. "You get to skip classes."

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