Huxford raises ‘Torch’

Published 7:13 pm Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Huxford Elementary students work on an assignment during class earlier this year. The students achieved scores that earned the school the Torchbearer Award.|Photo by Chandler Myers

Huxford Elementary staff and students can count themselves among the elite in the state this week after being named an Alabama Torchbearer School.

Principal Donna Silcox said the school learned of the honor late last week and she said it’s an honor she doesn’t take lightly.

“We were one of only 11 schools in the state chosen for the honor,” Silcox said. “That says a lot about what this honor means.”

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Being named a Torchbearer School typically means a monetary award will accompany the honor. However, Silcox said recent cuts in state funding have eliminated that part of the honor this year.

“We won’t be getting the cash award that usually goes with this honor,” Silcox said. “We are very blessed that others have been generous to help us at the school. Just to receive the prestigious award is honor enough.”

The Torchbearer Schools Program was created to recognize high-poverty, high-performing public schools in Alabama according to information from the Alabama State Department of Education. To be eligible for the award, the school must make Adequate Yearly progress for two consecutive years and meet additional criteria.

Silcox said one of the reasons the school made the grade for the award may be due to high test scores by the students.

“Our math grades were rocking this year,” Silcox said. ‘Every one of our grades scored in the 90 to 100 percentile for testing. The fifth grade tested at 100 percent proficiency in math. That’s really unheard of and we are very proud of our students.”

Although student performance is the main factor when determining those eligible to receive the award, Silcox said much of the credit goes to the teaching staff at the rural school.

“Our teachers truly possess the art of teaching,” Silcox said. “Their diligent work has provided a wonderful learning environment for our students to be successful.”

In order to be in the Torchbearer School category, a school must be identified as a Meeting the Challenge school; an Advancing the Challenge school; an Exceeding the Challenge school; have at least 80 percent poverty rate; have at least 80 percent of students score at Level II or Level IV on reading and math sections of the Alabama Reading and Mathematics test; have at least 80 percent of students score Level III or Level IV on the reading section of the Alabama Reading and Mathematics test; have at least 65 percent of students score in stanines of 5 to 9 in math and reading on the Stanford 10 test; and other criteria.

“We are very blessed and very honored,” Silcox said. “I just can’t say enough good things about our students, parents and teachers at Huxford. I wish every school could have the teachers we have here. We are very blessed.”

Silcox will accompany Escambia County School Superintendent William Hines to Montgomery for a presentation ceremony surrounding the honor next month.