December 13, 2013

Barge praises Chatsworth Elementary

Charles Oliver

— By the time today’s sixth-graders graduate from high school, some 80 percent of jobs will require more than a high school education, says state school Superintendent John Barge.

“That doesn’t mean that high school isn’t important. It makes it more important than ever since you’ll need a high school diploma to get into those educational opportunities,” Barge told students at Chatsworth Elementary School on Friday.

Barge came to the school as part of his effort to visit every school district in the state. He praised the school for its efforts to integrate technology into education.

“I wouldn’t say it’s typical. It’s more on the cutting edge in this regard,” he said. “You’ve got a lot of elementary schools with computers. But Chatsworth Elementary has an entire line of technology and a philosophy on how to use technology.”

School officials showed off some of that technology Friday, from the school’s use of Kindles in the school media center to the use of computers to enhance literacy and mental skills.

“We found that the kids are actually more eager to come and read off a Kindle than they are to pick a book off the shelves,” said Principal Mike Pritchett.

Barge watched the school’s sixth-graders sign a banner pledging to graduate from high school and signed the banner himself. The banner will follow the students to middle school and then to high school, so they can look at it every day.

Barge said making such explicit pledges to themselves and to their classmates does increase the chances that students will continue in school and graduate from high school.

Murray County High School Principal Gina Linder said the school system has already seen positive results from pledge banners.

“We have been doing it at the high school level for six years. They sign their name as seniors, and as seniors they sign their names on a graduation gown. I wear that at graduation,” she said. “They make a formal commitment as a freshman and again their senior year. Making that sort of formal commitment is a huge deal, and making that commitment in elementary school should also pay off.”

Linder said having the state school superintendent sign the banner should boost the students’ resolve.

“I’m sure that when those kids walk across the stage in 2020 some of them will be pointing towards his signature,” she said.

Barge has said he will challenge incumbent Gov. Nathan Deal in the 2014 Republican primary. Dalton Mayor David Pennington has also said he will run in that race. State Sen. Jason Carter has said he will seek the Democratic nomination for governor.