Students, faculty and staff, clad in blue t-shirts provided by the PTA, filed into the Fairmount elementary gym to receive an address from Dr. Barge. In attendance at the event were members of the Gordon County Board of Education and Superintendent, as well as Representatives John Meadows and Rick Jasperse, among others.
Fairmount was one of eight schools to the awarded in the state, chosen from more than 2,000 schools, and Principal Kimm Smith recently traveled to Washington D.C. with Fairmount Teacher of the Year Michelle Parker to receive the prestigious award.
“I don’t think I really knew how big it really was until I got to D.C.,” said Smith. “I know my students are great, and I know my staff is great, and it’s nice to be awarded for that.”
Fairmount’s school motto is “Small school, big heart,” according to Gordon County School Superintendent Dr. Bill McCown, who says that plays a big role in Fairmount’s success.
“I think that’s why they are so successful because their heart is so big, and with that big heart, they go beyond what is expected,” said McCown. “The students here are special. I spend a lot of time in classrooms and they are engaged in their work which means it’s meaningful to them and they retain it and that’s important.”
In Smiths opening statements at the ceremony, she expressed the hope that this award would not be a one-time event and students were excited to be recognized as well.
“Usually we are a small school and when I tell people I go to Fairmount, they ask ‘where’s that,’ and now its cool because now everybody is going to recognize us because we are getting all of this cool stuff,” said 5th grader, Avery Walraven.
Hunter Chapman, 4th grader, said “I feel good about it because I really like ice cream. We don’t usually get a lot of awards so this is a pretty big deal.”
Trenton Gross, 5th grader, said, “Everybody has [blue t-shirts] on to show that we are a blue ribbon school and just like Hunter said, this is a big deal because we don’t really get any awards, this is the first big award that I remember getting.”
Barge expressed pride in the small rural school for its proven ability to overcome challenges and succeed.
“Education is what I call the great equalizer,” said Barge. “No matter what your circumstances are and no matter where you come from, by getting a good education you can be or become just about anything you want to. Decisions they make now do impact what they do later in life.”
After students received ice cream, they were ushered back to class, but would return later in the afternoon for a fun assembly, according to Smith.