Mount Airy Middle rally celebrates School to Watch award

David Broyles

March 5, 2014

Mount Airy Middle School’s student body filled a portion of Main Street Wednesday morning in a celebration of being named one of two middle schools in North Carolina on the Schools to Watch list. The rally was held under a new banner slug across the street.

“We are here to celebrate your effort,” said Superintendent Dr. Gregory Little to the students. “Your excellence and your effort affects your community. It is a better place because of the hard work you do.” He recognized the support and attendance of Board of Education members, city commissioners and the Mount Airy Police Department at the rally.

School officials earlier reported the honor designates MAMS as one of the best middle schools in the country. Schools to Watch is an initiative launched by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform in 1999. The forum identifies schools across the country which it feels are well on their way to meeting the criteria for high performance academically.

“I want to thank a lot of folks for being a part of this celebration. Students, I want you to thank your teachers,” said Principal Susan Bunch. “Your teachers go above and beyond the faculty handbook. That’s what make a difference. Student accomplishments this year have been phenomenal.”

School Improvement Chairwoman Cathy Hiatt also praised the work of the staff at the school and noted other accomplishments including Mount Airy High being named a National Blue Ribbon school.

“It’s more than just us. Primary and elementary school is where success begins,” said Hiatt. “That’s why we are here on Main Street. We are celebrating with our family.” She said the district was more like family with “faculty being there for each other” and treating students like they were their children. She also praised the community for supporting the schools like a family as well.

Student Government Association President Elizabeth Marion, Vice President Simon Cawley, Reece Watson and Meredith Marion. Sixth grade teacher Tina VanHoy also spoke to the crowd. Marion told the group the rally shows them “hard work and dedication pays off.” Cawley, Watson and Meredith Marion all agreed their fellow students felt honored to receive the award.

“At a time when education seems under attack we have shown students and teachers together can be the best,” said VanHoy. She quoted from the book of I Corinthians telling believers to value each member of the congregation for their unique talents because everyone together composes the church body.

In late June, MAMS will be honored at the Tenth Annual Schools to Watch conference in Washington, D.C. MAMS teachers will join educators from middle grades across the country which have been nationally recognized as Schools to Watch. Staff members participate in the conference by sharing their successes, strategies and information about student achievement and positive student development.

David Broyles may be reached at 336-719-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryMewsDave.