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Barge celebrates Sugar Hill Elementary's success
Institution named a National Blue Ribbon School
Sugar Hill Elementary School Principal Beth Skarda speaks Thursday at a ceremony recognizing the National Blue Ribbon School. Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield, far left, and state school Superintendent John Barge sit nearby, sharing a laugh. - photo by Carly Sharec

Students at Sugar Hill Elementary School received one sweet treat and one special visitor Thursday.

For being named a National Blue Ribbon School, State School Superintendent John Barge paid a visit, bringing with him Blue Bell ice cream.

“It is an honor to be with you,” Barge said. “It is an incredible opportunity to come and celebrate such tremendous success of Sugar Hill Elementary School.”

Barge said he remembered when Sugar Hill initially opened, having been principal at Chestatee High School at the time.

“It’s exciting to come and celebrate in Hall County, that you guys are a National Blue Ribbon School,” he added.

Sugar Hill was announced as a National Blue Ribbon School in September by the U.S. Department of Education. It’s one of nine Georgia schools on the list for 2013, with 286 schools recognized nationally.

Sugar Hill is the first school in Hall County to be named to the list.

“Over the last few weeks, I have been asked by many people, ‘How did Sugar Hill become a Blue Ribbon School?’” said Principal Beth Skarda. “Although I can go into a long description of the programs that we use, how we focused on data, how we focused our efforts towards meeting our goals, my initial response to this question is simple and contains three factors ... teachers, students and community.”

To celebrate the achievement, Blue Bell Creameries sent ice cream sandwiches for every student in the school. Skarda was also presented with a book about the history of Blue Bell for the school’s media center.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes public and private schools where students perform at high levels, or where significant improvements are being made in students’ academic achievement, according to the program’s website.

Sugar Hill Elementary was listed as an exemplary improving school, with an at least 40 percent disadvantaged student population. Students at these schools have made the most progress in “improving student performance on state assessments or assessments referenced against national norms in reading and mathematics in the most recent five years,” a state press release said.

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