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VHS named as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence for the first time

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VHS blue ribbon lighthouse
Dr. Tameka Hyland: Photo by Keith Phillips
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[Editor’s note:  A correction has been made to the story below. The Blue Ribbon designation was issued by the Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, Inc., not the Blue Ribbon Schools Program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. The correction also reflects this is the first time the school has earned the award from this organization.]

Schools are deemed as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence when they have met the criteria in nine performance areas which are Student Focus and Support, School Organization and Culture, Challenging Standard and Curriculum, Active Teaching and Learning, Technology and Integration, Professional Community, Leadership and Education Vitality, School, Family, Community Partnerships, and Indicators of Success.

This prestigious award, issued by Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, Inc is the first time VHS has received a Blue Ribbon award since earning the National Blue Ribbon Schools award from the U.S. Department of Education for the 1988-1989 school year. They are continuing to make constant improvements under the leadership of Executive Principal Dr. Tameka Hyland.

“Vicksburg High School is student-led,” Hyland said. “I have teachers that have leadership roles within the building who mentor other teachers and help them plan and deliver lessons efficiently. We also have things like project-based learning where the students go on mock-based interviews to gain that real-world exposure and they are able to see the results of those visits and the effective planning that the teachers did.”

VHS became a blue ribbon school

Dr. Tameka Hyland: Photo by Keith Phillips

Over recent years, schools and students have had to suffer due to the COVID-19 pandemic but VHS has seemed to reverse those effects and come out better than before due to dedication from both the students and the faculty.

“According to the data it made us stronger and our students scored higher with proficiency than they did five years ago, so the pandemic didn’t actually hurt us but it helped us because we came out stronger,” Hyland said.

VHS has become a school that is nationally recognized with the help of the Vicksburg-Warren School District Board of Trustees who played a major role in their newfound success. Hyland went on to mention on how supportive the board has been and how they have made it a mission to provide everything that the school needed.

Many things can be attributed to VHS’ recent achievements, especially in academics. Back in 2018, voters approved an $83,000,000 bond issue that has given buildings in the district a new look and much-needed infrastructure upgrades.

“The students and teachers love our new building, but we also know that it takes people in the building who care – and I can say that people in this building really care and they go the extra mile,” Hyland said.

Many educators and leaders set out goals each year for their students, which Hyland has also done in her four years as Executive Principal at VHS.

Back in February, it was reported that VHS has a 91 percent graduation rate, which is higher that the national and Mississippi rate.

“Everything we do, we do with excellence. I tell them all the time that excellence is not perfection – it’s about doing our absolute best and when you put your best foot forward, the sky is the limit and you can accomplish anything.”

VDN also sat down with VHS junior Jaylen May, who is proud of the school’s new accomplishments.

“I’m honored and proud to be a part of this good school and I’m happy I chose to come here,” May said. “The teachers teach well and help you better understand the subject and it inspires me to do more.”

VHS becoming a Lighthouse Blue Ribbon school

Jaylen May and Dr. Tameka Hyland: Photo by Keith Phillips

Vicksburg High School is just at the beginning stages of excellence as more goals and accomplishments are strived to be met in the future and without the help of a team, it wouldn’t be possible.

“I have a group of educators who believe in my vision and what we’re trying to do here and they love what they do and they are the best that I have ever worked with,” Hyland said.

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