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Newton County School System soars
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Times may be tough financially for the Newton County School System, but the schools in the system have had several note-worthy achievements this year.

Superintendent Gary Mathews went over many of these in his recent end-of-month notes, recognizing several successes:
• Heard-Mixon Elementary School was named a Georgia School of Excellence for 2011, one of only 13 schools in the state to be recognized for the Greatest Gains in Congressional District 8 in the past three years for reading and math.

• Indian Creek Middle School was named a Georgia Breakout Middle School, one of only 12 in the state to be recognized by the Georgia Association of Secondary Principals for the school's academic performance and school improvement initiative.

• Liberty Middle School was recognized by the Governor's Office of Student Achievement for outstanding progress of the state Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests.

• Alcovy High School was one of only 41 schools in the state to be named a 2011-12 AP Access and Support School. This means that at least 30 percent of their AP exams taken by students identifying themselves as African-American and/or Hispanic and 30 percent of all AP exams earning scores of a college-level three or higher. The school also placed third out of 16 high schools in the Helen Ruffin Regional Reading Bowl. This required students to read all 20 Georgia Peach books and retain information from each book.

• Eastside High School earned a Berth in State mock trial competition for the first time. Students participate in the extra-curricular club which allows them to study the facts of a case and then build their own case, playing the part of witnesses, prosecutor and defense attorney in a real courtroom before a real judge. Eastside was also named academic champions for the state in Class AAA for the second year in a row. This requires students in teams of four to face off with students from another school. EHS beat out St. Pius X for the championship.

• Newton High School was the first high school in the nation to offer an epidemiology course. It was also a site for the Savannah-Chatham School System to visit to learn how to create an Instructional Focus period within the school day.

• Newton, Alcovy and Eastside high schools were three of only 207 high schools in the state to be awarded funds for attending the AP Summer Institutes.