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Academic success: It can be done

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

The O'Loughlin Elementary School gym was filled with music, chanting and applause, and the honored guests paraded in front of the assembled crowd.

It wasn't a sports team being cheered, though; it was academic success.

The students and guests, which included Hays Area Chamber of Commerce ambassadors, had a pep rally Tuesday to celebrate achieving the standard of excellence for 15 consecutive years. Three of those years, 2007, 2010 and 2011, the school received the Governor's Achievement Award.

Fourth- and fifth-grade students were honored guests, said Nancy Harman, O'Loughlin principal.

"The third-graders start watching, so they're excited about assessments," she said.

Educators were challenged to leave no child behind and achieve the standard of excellence.

"Some people said it couldn't be done. Well, they forgot about O'Loughlin school," Harman said.

The fourth-grade students achieved the standard of excellence in reading, math and building wide when they were third graders.

This year's fifth-grade students also achieved the standard of excellence in reading, math and building wide last year as fourth graders.

Last year's fifth-grade students, now middle school students, also achieved those standard of excellence levels.

Students in O'Loughlin's fourth and fifth grades were rewarded for their academic success with 30 minutes of free time. Students in the other grades were treated to 15 minutes of free time in honor of the school's achievements.

Superintendent Will Roth said the No Child Left Behind Act has been changed because the schools say it's not possible for 100 percent to meet the standards.

"At O'Loughlin last year, that happened in almost every class -- that 100 percent of the students met the standard. That is unheard of. ... You third-graders have a real legacy," Roth said.

The Hays High School alternative strings group, Con Brio, under the direction of Joan Crull, also performed.

Links made by the community supporters were attached to join two pieces of a memory chain made by the students. The chain will be placed on the holiday tree at the school, Harman said.

The school also was named a 2012 Title I Award School in recognition of high academic performance by the Kansas State Department of Education.