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Hoover, Washington honored

The two Medford elementary schools achieve accreditation with merit

— Hoover Elementary has the fewest socioeconomically disadvantaged students in the Medford district and Washington Elementary nearly the most, but both schools took home the Pacific Northwest's highest accreditation ranking this week.

School administrators say the top honor is the direct result of teamwork, including dedicated volunteers and a talented, hard-working staff. Hoover and Washington elementary school students, however, have their own opinions.

The kids are involved in everything, like action teams and planning assemblies, said Hoover fifth-grader Callie McCoy, 10. It makes it a lot better. It lets the teachers know what the student thinks about things.

I think it's because the teachers are always on the ball, and they make sure kids don't miss anything. And they're nice, said 11-year-old Garrett Jones, a Washington fifth-grader. It's a fun school, and yet there are lots of cool activities.

The Northwest Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NASCU) announced on Tuesday that 360 public and private schools throughout the Pacific Northwest had achieved voluntary accreditation. Of these, only Hoover and Washington elementary schools went through the much more complicated process of applying and earning accreditation with merit, a much higher honor. The two schools received plaques and will be sent checks for &

36;500.

It's truly a tremendous recognition, said Medford Curriculum Director Phil Long, who credits the success in part to Hoover's strong parent volunteerism and Washington's tight-knit teaching staff.

They're two very different schools, Long said. It's about bringing all those assets together.

Dick Darst, NASCU's executive secretary, said the Medford schools were honored because they excelled in specific programs and demonstrated ongoing improvement. Although most districts have education improvement plans to meet state testing goals, the voluntary accreditation process pushes individual schools to even higher academic levels. The accreditation is based on performance and improvement noted the previous school year.

We just couldn't be prouder of the teachers and staff and students, said Washington elementary Principal Stephanie Johnson. There's a lot of hard work involved.

Washington has a 40 percent student turnover rate. Student turnover shows how many kids register for classes but then leave the school each year for various reasons. Approximately 85 percent of the children who attend the southwest Medford school receive free or reduced-price lunches, a third are special needs and a third of the students don't speak English as their primary language.

The whole building works as a team. It's a team effort in discipline; it's a team effort in learning, in everything we do, said Washington kindergarten teacher Jill Frodsham.

We all work together.

Hoover Principal Phil Meager said that, like Washington, teamwork and focus played the largest role in the accreditation process, and added that the accomplishment is significant.

We're in the top of the pack in the Pacific Northwest, Meager said. I feel it's important to capitalize on this during these times (of budget concerns).

A lot of this is about the students. They all feel a great deal of pride in what they're doing, and it shows. We're very proud.

Hoover Elementary doesn't receive state funding to provide kids in need with free meals. The turnover rate among children is low, and the east Medford school has a minimal number of special needs students.

It's great. What else can you say, added Hoover first- and second-grade teacher Dan Blaydon. We've got a great staff here.

Parents at both schools were pleased to hear the news.

It's a fabulous honor, said Andora Hammonds, a Hoover parent and classroom volunteer. It really shows the work the teachers have put in making sure kids are educated.

This starts with the most important thing, the teachers, said Washington parent Rob Larson. They are the heart and soul of this area.

In 2001-02, Hoover also took home the accreditation of merit. Washington earned the honor in 2001-02 and 2000-01.

In addition, Ruch and Jefferson elementary schools applied for and received accreditation from the NASCU this year. Both schools have earned accreditation with merit in the past.

Parent volunteer Katie Young, left, helps first-grader Caitlin Happeny, 6, while listening to an audio book at Hoover Elementary School. Mail Tribune / Jim Craven - Mail Tribune Jim Craven