Five Grayson County schools were recently named as 2016 Texas Honor Roll Star Schools for their high academic performance in the face of higher than average poverty and economic disadvantage rates.


In early May, the Education Results Partnership named Howe High School, Washington Elementary School in Sherman, Hyde Park Elementary School in Denison, Gunter Elementary School and Whitewright Middle School to the list of 722 other schools across the state that also received the designation.


“We are very honored to be included as a 2016 Texas Star Honor Roll School,” Howe High School Principal James Teafatiller said in an email. “The teachers and staff at Howe High school diligently work to serve the best interest of students. However, it is our students who continue to strive for higher levels of achievement and academic success. Through the combined efforts of our students and staff, Howe High School relentlessly pursues our district’s vision of “Educating the Hope of Tomorrow.”


To qualify as a Star School, campuses must serve a population in which 33 percent or more of students are considered to be economically disadvantaged. The Education Results Partnership then identifies high-performing schools by using the Texas Education Agency’s 2016 Texas Academic Performance Reports regarding a school’s performance in the areas of science, technology and math. Star Schools are split into two categories, kindergarten through eighth grade and high schools, the latter of which are further assessed on graduation rates, as well as college and career readiness.


“It’s always rewarding when hard work and persistence pays off,” Hyde Park Elementary School Principal Kerry Kaai said. “It’s just a great honor to have been chosen for this award.”


Washington Elementary School Principal Amy Pesina said her campus and staff were thrilled to hear they were again named a Star School after receiving the same designation in 2015.


“This being the second year in a row we’ve received this, it’s just validation for all the hard work, continued planning, dedication to teaching the kids and all the other pieces that go into it,” Pesina said.


Gunter Elementary School Principal Dara Arrington said her school’s selection to the Honor Roll was a positive way to end the school year, but that it was most impressive given the influence socioeconomic status has on students’ performance and prospects.


“Even though we know economic disadvantage is the No. 1 indicator for student success, we see our students are performing well,” Arrington said. “That says a lot about the commitment of your students, parents, teacher and what your district has in place to allow them to make academic progress.”