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East Bay attains ‘A’ status for first time on record

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But staff says it’s just business as usual
By PENNY FLETCHER
GIBSONTON — School staff says they’re just doing what they’ve always done but they’re glad to finally be recognized for their achievements.
Until this year, the State grades were based solely on the FCAT- Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test- and didn’t take other accomplishments into consideration.
The new grading system recognizes more than the once-a-year test scores, and truly reflects the real East Bay, said Principal Sharon Morris.
“We’ve always been about the student body as a whole, not just test scores, and not just students headed for college,” Morris said in an interview Jan. 10. “I’m very grateful the State has finally put in a grading system that reflects the kind of hard work we do here every day.”
Besides college preparatory classes, East Bay has 10 different industry certifications students can attain, explained Jennifer Sparano, assistant principal for curriculum. Students can graduate with certificates allowing them to go right to work as certified auto technicians; cosmetologists; agricultural specialists; culinary artists; and in several branches of the business and technological world.
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PENNY FLETCHER PHOTOS
East Bay High School Principal Sharon Morris, left, goes over the reasons why the school went from a ‘D’ rating to an ‘A’ with Jennifer Sparano, the school’s assistant principal for curriculum.
“Industry certification is of great importance so that students who do not go to college can get good jobs,” Sparano said.
Morris, who has been principal since February 2006, said the school has never attained an ‘A’ status before and the student body is just as excited as the staff.
“You’ll hear them talking about it in the halls, filled with pride,” she said. “We never felt like a ‘D’ school. But now, people are talking about what we do.”
Some of the new things being taken into consideration toward the grade are the graduation rate, how many students participate in accelerated classes, reading readiness and how many students who are “at risk” of not graduating — because of economic and other concerns — actually do receive a diploma.
The current enrollment at the school is 1,997, with approximately 425 in the senior class. Last year about 400 made it to graduation, showing a high success rate even with students whose parents move around doing transitory work.
“You should see it here on a Saturday morning,” Morris said. “We have almost 200 students who take advantage of the Saturday programs.”
Most of the Saturday students aren’t there because they need to raise their grade enough to pass, but to take advantage of accelerated programs (AP) and study for Scholastic Aptitude Tests so they can get into college or better prepare for the FCAT.
ebhs-sign2Students at South County’s other two high schools can also be proud. Under the new grading system, Lennard (in Ruskin) earned a ‘B’ and Riverview an ‘A.’
East Bay’s fast ascent from ‘D’ to ‘A,’ however, was not accomplished elsewhere in South County.
School District records show that Blake and King high schools, both in Tampa, also raised their scores from ‘D’s’ to ‘A’s’ under the new grading system.
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