MHS receives Gold Improvement Award

Just five high schools in the country received the Gold Improvement Award for 2014 from High Schools That Work, the country’s largest student improvement initiative, and Marietta High School was one of them.

The award was announced to the Marietta City Schools Board of Education at its regular meeting Monday night.

The award from High Schools That Work came as a part of the Southern Regional Education Board, and commended Marietta High School for improved graduation rates, high assessment scores in common subject areas and programs such as its career search course.

“To earn this, they had to improve on the High Schools That Work assessment tests by 10 or more points from 2010 to 2014,” said MHS Principal Bill Lee. “The school also had to meet federal guidelines for No Child Left Behind and have a graduation rate of 85 percent or more.”

High Schools that Work is a special initiative of the Southern Regional Education Board, which is an organization dedicated to improving public school education.

One major focus of High Schools That Work is the promotion of high quality, career-technical education, something Marietta has promoted through its Building Bridges to Careers and Career Search courses.

“It’s common now to bring career readiness back to the classroom, and it’s exciting to see that we’re ahead of the game thanks to BBC and the career course,” said Kim Depue, who instructs the course at the high school.

At a recent national High Schools That Work conference, Depue and other coordinators presented what Marietta is doing to meet the goals of the initiative, including its job shadow experiences, college prep classes, the BBC program and rigorous academic guidance.

“This course, and everything we’re doing with BBC really put us ahead,” Depue said. “And we’ve really shown High Schools That Work how we’ve implemented their goals.”

The award also came after HSTW performed several assessments and site evaluations of Marietta’s programs and instruction.

“I just want to congratulate the high school on its distinction,” said Superintendent Harry Fleming. “I’ve heard so many great comments from people about it.”

Also on Monday, the board also heard a presentation from district nurse Carol Thomson defending the district’s policy on head lice.

“Knowing all of these facts, we decided we have a lot of children that miss a lot of education because of head lice, and we have a lot of children who have been socially ostracized because of head lice,” Thomson said. “We’ve even had a child that had to repeat an entire grade because of head lice, and that year, we didn’t serve that child well.”

Parents have criticized the district’s policy, which does not force children to stay home from school if they have head lice, and Thomson presented information that noted that head lice are not as easy to spread as many parents think, and do not carry disease.

“They are not transmitted that easily,” she said. “Pink eye, influenza, those are all things passed around easily in school, but lice require head to head contact.”

Thomson said the goal should always be to keep otherwise healthy children in school, and that it is the parents’ responsibilities to rid their children of lice.

“No one comes to school demanding that since their child came home with pinkeye, we have to check everyone’s eyes, so why are we putting up with people coming in demanding we check every child because their kid came home with lice?,” Thomson said.

Currently, district policy states that if a child is discovered to have lice, a school nurse will discreetly call the parent and educate them on options, but not promote any product or specific procedure.

Washington Elementary School principal Scott Kratche and Putnam Elementary School principal Jona Hall both said that if a student has an infestation of lice, they are given a separate place to put coats and bags or the school will bag students’ belongings in the morning to prevent any possible spreading.