National recognition for superior effort and success doesn’t h

National recognition for superior effort and success doesn’t happen by the luck of the draw. Honor comes after results have been measured against standards and expectations.

Tupelo High School became part of a select company this month when it was named one of the 63 best high schools in the United States by Redbook magazine. Pontotoc City Schools’ elementary division was cited for the same honor last year, giving Northeast Mississippi back-to-back successes.

Tupelo High was cited for its general excellence academic challenges, extracurricular opportunities and community support. It was one of three Mississippi schools selected. Hattiesburg High was named the state’s best. Madison High School, north of Jackson, was cited with Tupelo for overall excellence.

The citation means more than good publicity for THS nationwide. It demonstrates that community support parents, school friends and private-sector business involvement make an enormous difference. The same kind of support also exists in Hattiesburg and Madison. The listing also means that the system’s internal process of teaching, evaluation, and continual upgrading moves toward the goal of being not only among the best but the best.

Tupelo Public Schools board president Polly Bailey said Wednesday she thought the honor would encourage the system to push ahead. There exists, she said, virtually no danger of over-confidence. She said the school system knows it has not achieved all it has set out to do.

Tupelo’s public schools, like those in many other communities in Mississippi and across the nation, face some problems and difficult opportunities that didn’t exist a few years ago. Transitions require patience and intelligent perseverance. Tupelo’s school board doesn’t always agree within itself about some school issues, and that’s expected. However, every trustee believes excellence is possible and expects it. The system’s administrators and corps of supporters want the same results: consistent improvement melded with effective teaching and learning.

The Redbook magazine honor suggests that at Tupelo High School the different elements that blend into a good education are present. The citation doesn’t mean a self-satisfied sigh of relief is appropriate. The best response would be a deep breath and a sure-footed start toward the next benchmarks.

Click video to hear audio