On Tuesday morning, CVES students, faculty, staff, and parents were joined by several special guests for a Reward School celebration and unfurling ceremony for the coveted Reward School banner.
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.
"I have been teaching here for 19 years, and I am so proud of each and every one of our students, faculty, staff," said fourth-grade teacher Cyndi Snapp, who spoke on behalf of teachers. "It is awesome to get to be a Rewards School this year. I knew in my heart that we had it in us, and we pulled together, and we did it, so congratulations guys.
And although it was a special day, CVES students started Tuesday like any other day, by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, which was led by Utana Derrick while Carter Dalton held the flag.
Snapp then introduced a group of CVES fourth-graders who spoke to the audience about what this accomplishment means to them, including Kaiden Barker, Madelyn Lawson, Landyn Caughron, Ava Sexton, Lucas Cox and Alex Brown.
"I love this school," Madelyn said. "I've been at this school for a long time, and it feels like home to me. This is my last year here, and it makes me sad to think that I have to leave next year. But I will never forget Carters Valley Elementary. I am so glad that our school is a Reward School, and it is something I will never forget."
Alex said the fact that CVES is one of only four schools in Hawkins County to be named a Reward School is something to be proud of.
"A lot of you know we are a Reward School, but only a few of us know what it means to be a Reward School," Brown said "What it means to be a Reward School is to have the most student progress, to have the highest scores on TN Ready, or both. Our school is for the highest scores on TN Ready last year. ... Our school is one of four schools chosen in Hawkins County. This is why I'm glad to be a Carters Valley Jet."
Among the local dignitaries in attendance Tuesday were school board Chairman Bob Larkins and District 3 member Cathy Cradic, who represents CVES; County Commissioner Keith Gibson; Director of Schools Dr. Reba Bailey; and Rep. Gary Hicks (R-Rogersville).
Hicks noted that not only were there several local dignitaries in attendance to offer congratulations, but the House of Representatives in Nashville was also paying attention to this achievement.
He read allowed for the students and faculty a proclamation signed by House Speaker Beth Harwell congratulating CVES for being named a 2018 Reward School and "saluting the school's administration, faculty, staff, students, and parents for this prestigious honor."
That proclamation was then presented to Principal Stephanie Mann and Clinch School Principal Denise McKee, who was Carters Valley's principal in 2017-18.
"I’m very excited about CVES," McKee told the Times News. "I went to CVES in 2015-16, and we worked so hard for three years that I just knew we were on our way to great things. This accomplishment is so far the highlight of my 20-year career in education."
At the conclusion of the celebration, Bailey presented the school with its 2017-18 Reward School banner.
Bailey invited students to give themselves a big pat on the back.
She also recognized parents, grandparents and other family members of students in attendance who also make a significant contribution to the educational successes of all children in the community.
And Bailey asked teachers and staff to stand up and be recognized.
"I just want to say thank you," Bailey said. "I've watched this staff come together as a group to plan, to think, talk, to push this school forward, to push these students forward, to push this community forward. I am proud to stand with you and work beside each of you every day that I've had an opportunity to work with you."