By THOMAS P. WEAVER
CELINA-Clay County High School students, faculty, and support staff all got a big pat on the back last week as director of schools Jerry Strong, principal Melissa White, and others lauded the amazing academic accomplishments of the school here during a pep-rally-style event where the student body exuded the enthusiasm which has led to their success.
“What’s happening in this school is really special,” Strong said as he addressed the crowd while donning a commemorative shirt given to all students and staff honoring the unprecedented academic feat of being named a back-to-back Tennessee Reward School for Progress.
“This couldn’t have happened without you and your scores,” he said to students, “but there’s something just as important right over here.”
Strong went around the gymnasium pointing to the school’s teachers saying they all “could go somewhere else and make more money,” but explained “they chose to be here because they love” their students.
“They sacrifice to be here with you,” the director said, “and I want you to know how proud I am of what you’re achieving at this school.”
Principal White, after opening the event with similar remarks, then presented the four class presidents with banners honoring the consecutive-year accomplishment, before other academic honors were announced.
White announced results from an athletic-like academic competition between CCHS, Jackson County, and Pickett County known as the Exceed Academic Challenge, along with award winners in the school’s Bulldog Pride Incentive Program—which rewards students for attendance, behavior, academic achievement, and extra help.
White presented two of the three academic challenge category trophies to the class presidents before the quartet rolled the championship cup out in front of the cheering student body in celebration of the school’s co-championship shared with Pickett County.
“This is something to be proud of,” Strong said about the share of the championship. “We will share it now, but when we beat Pickett County this year in basketball we will have it all.”
White spoke of the relationships students participating have made with those from other schools and compared the competition to athletics, but explained the academic challenge gives anyone, not just athletes, a chance to compete.
Vice-principal Daniel Strong followed the Exceed announcement by handing out Dairy Queen gift cards as White announced Bulldog Pride honorees. Besides those individual honors, group trips are also used to reward students, including field trips, movie trips, and much more.