'Something to really be proud of': Clinch School celebrates Reward School status

Jeff Bobo • Nov 17, 2018 at 11:30 AM

ROGERSVILLE — With only 130 students, Clinch already holds the distinction of being Tennessee’s smallest K-12 school, and on Wednesday students and faculty celebrated another distinction: being named a 2018 Reward School.

Reward status is the top distinction a school can earn from the Tennessee Department of Education. Reward schools are those that are improving overall academic achievement and student growth for all students and student groups, and such schools are identified annually.

In 2018, 318 schools in 85 districts — about 20 percent of schools in the state — earned Reward status. They include five in Hawkins County: Clinch, Hawkins Elementary, Carters Valley Elementary, Mount Carmel Elementary, and the independent K-8 Rogersville City School.

On Wednesday afternoon, Clinch hosted a celebration of the honor which included a musical performance and the reading of a Tennessee House of Representatives proclamation honoring the school by Rep. Gary Hicks.

Among the school board members in attendance were Chairman Bob Larkins and Vice Chairman Debbie Shedden, who represents Clinch in District 6.

“Today on this very special day, I want to tell you that on behalf of the Board of Education of Hawkins County, we want to tell you how very proud we are of all of you,” Shedden said. “The students for all of your hard work, certainly the teachers, the principal, the faculty and all of the staff — for your commitment and your dedication to constantly putting kids first, and knowing that ‘all’ does mean ‘all.’ ”

She added, “Keep up the good work, and let’s do this again next year.”

Director of Schools Reba Bailey invited every Wildcat to raise their hand and “reach back and pat yourself on the back for being a Reward School.”

“That’s something to really be proud of,” Bailey said. “We have a group of seniors here who are going to graduate and are going to go on representing Clinch School. What you’ve done as a Reward School, and what you’ve done as students in achieving that, is going to help you all through graduation, college and your life.”

Bailey also asked teachers both past and present to stand up and be recognized for this accomplishment.

“Thank you for supporting this community and supporting these students,” Bailey said. “You’re their lifeline to a college education. They’re going to stand on your shoulders and have jobs and do things in their life because of what you’re doing, or what you’ve done standing with the Clinch community, and what you’re doing today, and what you continue to do.

“I just want to honor the staff, to say thank you for the work that you do. Being a Reward School — it’s tough to get there. It’s tough to have scores that you needed to have to get there, and education today is tough, so thank you so much.”

Following her speech, Bailey was joined by Hicks and other school leaders in unfurling Clinch’s 2017-18 Reward School banner.

Hawkins Elementary held its Reward School celebration Wednesday morning, while Carters Valley’s celebration is Nov. 20 at 8:30 a.m. and Mount Carmel’s is Nov. 28 at 8:30 a.m.