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An ‘A’ for academic excellence

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 3:18 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 4:08 p.m. CDT
(BCR file photo)
Kindergarten students at Cherry Grade School work with teacher Jennifer Ring on identifying words on the flash cards. Thanks to the high test scores of last year's third-, fifth- and eighth-graders, the district was named to the Illinois Honor Roll and awarded the Academic Excellence Award for the third consecutive year.

CHERRY — Excellent ... for five years in a row.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and Northern Illinois University announced last week that 624 schools made the Illinois Honor Roll for their continued academic progress or excellence.

“These Honor Roll schools once again show us that rigorous standards, great instruction and lots of hard work improve student performance,” said Illinois State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico. “Behind each school’s success is an untold story of extraordinary passion and dedication on behalf of administrators, teachers, parents and students. We commend each school and hope local community members will also celebrate their local schools’ success.”

Once again, the Cherry Grade School has received the Academic Excellence Award for sustaining very high academic performance for at least three years. It is the third consecutive year the district has earned this distinction. The district also received the Academic Improvement Award in 2006.

In 2012, 93 percent of Cherry’s students met or exceeded state standards on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test, the highest percentage in Bureau County for the last five years.

The state’s annual recognition program is based on the previous spring’s state standardized tests and demographic information. Northern Illinois University works with the ISBE to establish criteria, identify winners of the awards and administer the Honor Roll. This Academic Excellence Award recognized 454 schools that have sustained very high academic performance over at least a three-year period.

Cherry Principal Tom Nesti was elated by the award, calling it “fantastic.”

Nesti credited the award to many factors, including outstanding teachers who are willing to go the extra mile; students who do what is asked of them; a helpful support staff; and certainly the parents.

“Like the old cliche, there is no ‘I’ in team,” he said. “They value what they are doing here, which is the best job they can to prepare these students for high school.”

Nesti said he was not criticizing districts with larger class sizes, but that an advantage of small class sizes is that it is easier to notice if a student is having problems.

“There is less of a chance of them slipping through the cracks,” he said.

A complete listing of the 2012 Illinois Honor Roll Schools can be found online at http://www.ilhonorroll.niu.edu/.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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