By Curt Yeomans and Johnny Jackson
A pair of high schools in Clayton and Henry counties are in the running to receive statewide honors in Gov. Sonny Perdue's Governor's Cup award program, which recognizes improvement over a three-year period on the Scholastic Aptitude Test.
Perdue and State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox announced Tuesday that Eagle's Landing High School, and Forest Park High School, are regional Governor's Cup honorees in their Georgia High School Association (GHSA) athletics regions -- 4AAA and 4AAAA, respectively.
Forest Park High is the region 4-AAAA champion, while Eagle's Landing High is the region 4-AAA champion, according to a statement from Perdue's office. The overall state winners for Class AAA and Class AAAA will be announced Oct. 15, Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley said in a telephone interview.
As regional winners, both schools will receive trophies and $1,000 grants from AT&T to fund SAT preparation programs, Brantley said. He added that the schools will earn $2,000 grants, and a larger trophy, if they win statewide Governor's Cup honors.
"This is the result of each school coming together, and saying, 'We want these students to do well on the SAT, and go on to college,'" Brantley said. "Even if the regional winners don't win statewide honors, it's a great accomplishment to achieve. This is a very difficult [statewide] trophy to win. You're in with the best of the best."
The Governor's Cup program recognizes those schools which had the highest improvement on their SAT scores over a three-year period, Brantley said. The schools are grouped by their GHSA regions and classifications for varsity sports.
Brantey said Forest Park's average SAT score increased by 26 points, going from 1,256 points during the 2006-2007 school year, to 1,282 points during the 2008-2009 school year.
Eagle's Landing's average score increased by 37 points, going from 1,502 points during the 2006-2007 school year, to 1,539 points during the 2008-2009 school year, according to Brantley.
Perdue started the program in 2003 to encourage students to do better on the SAT, Brantley said. The governor's spokesman said the athletic regions, and classifications are used for determining winners, because the general public is likely already familiar with those designations from varsity sports. Plus, he added, it gives schools some academic "bragging rights" over the other schools they compete against in athletics.
Forest Park's region includes: Jonesboro High School; Mt. Zion High School; North Clayton High School; Dutchtown High School; Ola High School; Stockbridge High School; Griffin High School, and Alcovy High School in Covington, according to GHSA's web site..
Eagle's Landing's region includes: Locust Grove High School; Woodland High School; Charles R. Drew High School; Jackson High School; Spalding High School in Griffin; Woodward Academy in College Park; Mary Persons High School in Forsyth; Rutland High School in Macon; Maynard Jackson High School in Atlanta, and South Atlanta High School, according to the web site.
Officials from Clayton County Public Schools and Eagle's Landing High School attributed their regional wins to work done by their students, teachers and administrators.
"Students, both past and present, and staff members of Forest Park High School are to be commended for this outstanding accomplishment," Clayton County Public Schools Spokesman Charles White said in a written statement.
"FPHS' performance on the SAT during the three-year qualifying period is evidence that teachers and students are committed to fostering an attitude of long-term growth and achievement at the school," White added. "We are encouraged by this trend, and are confident that students at Forest Park High School will continue to excel academically."
Eagle's Landing Principal Gabe Crerie said his school's improvement came from academic initiatives put into place to help prepare students to take the SAT.
"This is a testament to the hard work of students, teachers, counselors, staff members, and parents," Crerie said. "Our rigorous curriculum, advanced placement program, support structure to help students, ACT/SAT prep classes, academic extension classes, data-based advisement, and belief that all can achieve, all deserve credit for the consistent increases."