Lewisburg High School principal Chris Fleming uses a now sought-after tradition of offering sprinkles, the small confectionary pieces used as a decoration or topping for cupcakes, doughnuts or even ice cream, as celebration for accomplishments, such as high test scores or important athletic victories.
Sprinkle market futures Thursday likely spiked with the sugar high they may provide on the news that Lewisburg High School was again ranked as the number one high school in the state of Mississippi in the state Department of Education’s accountability scores that have been released.
It is the second straight year for Lewisburg High School to be ranked number one and Fleming might have offered some extra pieces to his counterpart next door at Lewisburg Middle School, principal Brad Meadows, who with his faculty and staff were also celebrating a second-straight year of being ranked as the state’s top middle school.
Thursday’s revelations were part of a day that saw the DeSoto County School District (DCS) be again ranked as an “A” district. The grade is a state-mandated annual ranking to inform parents and communities on how well their schools are educating their students.
Fleming announced the top ranking to his teachers and staff Thursday with cupcakes and sprinkles on top arranged to spell out “LHS 1.” He followed that Friday by providing the entire student body breakfast that likely also included sprinkles.
The results reflect test scores for the 2016-17 school year. The grading system takes into account state test results, whether students are showing improvement on tests each year and on-time graduation percentages. It also is to be an indicator of how schools are helping lower-achieving students progress toward proficiency.
Petal finished as the number one school district in Mississippi, but while not among the top ten districts, Director of Accountability and Research Ryan Kuykendall said DCS finished 12th overall and was not far off from being in the top five.
“Numbers five-through-12 were separated by seven total points on the 1000-point scale,” Kuykendall said. “Number five was at 690 and we were at 683 for number 12. Madison County and Biloxi were two points ahead of us tied for 10th at 685.”
In last year’s final results, DeSoto County Schools finished 15 points away from a number 10 ranking.
Celebrations for high scores were likely found in other DCS schools Thursday. All eight DeSoto County high schools were ranked as either an “A” or “B” grade high school. After Lewisburg, Hernando was ranked second in the state and an “A” school. DeSoto Central, Olive Branch and Center Hill also retained last year’s “A” status.
Southaven High School moved from a “B” last year into the “A” group this year.
Lake Cormorant remained a “B” high school from last year and Horn Lake moved from a “C” to a “B” status this year.
DCS had the top three middle schools in Mississippi under the new rankings, with DeSoto Central second and Center Hill at number three. Hernando and Olive Branch middle schools also made the top 10.
Elementary schools also fared well in the latest report. Hernando Hills, Center Hill and Pleasant Hill are ranked in the top 10 for math proficiency. Pleasant Hill, Lewisburg and Oak Grove Central in Hernando ranked in the top 10 for science proficiency.
“While we were pleased with our district rating for being one of the top school districts in the state, we know we have a lot of work to do,” said Supt. Cory Uselton in a news release. “We will continue to focus on research-based best practices in our classrooms and work with each student to do his or her best.”
In achieving Lewisburg’s top ranking, Fleming believes his faculty and students both go the next step in being the best.
“Everyone has worked very hard,” Fleming said. “We had a teacher who was here on a Sunday for a practice test for the ACT and she cooked brownies and had milk for our kids, just to go out of their way to give our kids opportunities. It’s still up to the kids to take advantage of the opportunities the teachers are preparing them for. I think what happens is that you see teachers who prepare every day and students who come in and meet what we are preparing them for.”
Fleming pointed to the school’s effort to improve ACT scores and the number of dual-college credit courses his students are taking.
“ACT and dual credit are two areas that are kid-driven areas,” said Fleming. “That dual credit is something they can take to college and they’ve got more credit. On the other side, the ACT is what they can take to college and their credit is they get more money from scholarships so their credit rating is where it needs to be.”
And today, Lewisburg High School is passing around the sprinkles in celebration.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.