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Rich Acres receives state award

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Rich Acres Elementary School was selected to receive a Distinguished Achievement Award from the State Board of Education, according to a release issued Wednesday by the office of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

McDonnell and the Board of Education recognized a total of 151 schools and one school division for advanced learning and achievement in the 2013 Virginia Index of Performance (VIP) awards.

The VIP incentive program recognizes schools and divisions that exceed minimum state and federal accountability standards and achieve excellence goals established by the governor and the board, the release stated.

“Our school division is extremely proud of the continued successes for Rich Acres Elementary School’s students, parents, staff, and community,” Henry County Schools Superintendent Jared Cotton said. “Rich Acres is among an elite group of schools in Virginia having received the VIP distinction all three years. The criteria for this award become more challenging each year. I hope everyone throughout Henry County will celebrate this recognition and the hard work of our students, staff and the entire Rich Acres community.”

Rich Acres was among 98 schools in Virginia to receive the award this year, the release stated.

Only schools and school divisions that have met all state and federal accountability requirements for two consecutive years — and have not experienced significant irregularities in the administration of state assessments — are eligible for the award, it added.

The school also has met federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and has been fully accredited for the past eight years. In the past, it was recognized by both McDonnell and former Gov. Tim Kaine for its success.

“Excellence doesn’t just happen; it is achieved through hard work and a commitment to continuous improvement and innovation,” McDonnell said in the release. “I congratulate the students for the accomplishments these awards recognize and the outstanding teachers and other educators who prepared them to excel. We are blessed to have some of the finest schools and teachers in the nation. We must continue to ensure that all students have access to the high quality education they deserve.”

Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright noted that “the criteria for VIP awards are designed to recognize excellence and to provide incentives for school divisions and schools to expand academic opportunities for all students and to adopt best practices that result in engaging, safe and healthy learning environments.”

Built in 1966 and extensively renovated in 1996, Rich Acres is one of the county’s 11 elementary schools. The school serves about 361 students in pre-K through fifth grade, including classes for preschool-handicapped, learning disabilities, and educable mentally disabled children.

It is considered a Total Title 1 Project School based on the large number of students who receive free or reduced lunch.

In 2011, Rich Acres also became the first school in the county to earn National Blue Ribbon School status through a program that was created in 1982 to honor the country’s most successful schools.

Secretary of Education Laura Fornash said she also congratulated the 2013 VIP schools “on a job well done. Virginia’s education system is among the best in the country, and each of these schools are setting the standard we should expect for every school in the Commonwealth. Without hardworking educators in the classroom, these success stories wouldn’t be possible.”

Schools and school divisions earning 2013 VIP awards include two schools that earned the Governor’s Award for Educational Excellence; 51 schools, and one school division, that earned the Board of Education Excellence Award; and 98 schools that earned the Board of Education Distinguished Achievement Award.

More information about the VIP incentive program is available on the Virginia Department Of Education’s website at


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