Manatee County high schools receive A and B grades from state

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BRADENTON, FL--- The Manatee County School District has been plagued with concern after concern over the years.  But in the midst of their troubles there is some positive.  The Florida Department of Education releasing it annual grades for area high schools and for the first time ever -- all of the high schools in the district received either an "A" or "B".

" When we announced to the staff, they were cheering and its such so a big moment for this school," said Jim Pauley the principal at Southeast High. The school is one of the four high schools in the district to receive an "A" grade from the state. This is the first "A" for Southeast and a few years ago many didn't think it would be happen.

"My freshman year I remember the school was a "D" school at that time and there wasn't a lot of good things that were said about it," said Nicholas Contessa a student at Southeast.  Contessa says over the years, students and teachers at Southeast have been working to improve their image and the release of the school grades solidifies those efforts. 

Florida Department of Education, administers the grades based on student F-CAT scores, as well as how well they do on college placement test. Other criteria includes a school's graduation rate. And, Contessa says excelling in those areas is an accomplishment that is the result of a lot of hard work.

"It was actually in large part the teachers.  They continued to push us to do our best and when we got closer, it inspired them more to continue to push us harder," added Contessa.

Principal Pauley says part of that push includes a philosophy called 212 degrees which is used motivate people to do just a little more.

"At 211 degrees you just have hot water.  One extra degree you have steam and that steam creates all kinds of extra things.  The analogy is to your life or to your effort at work is you do one little thing extra and you can do great things," said Pauley.

For Southeast, the little extra resulted in their first "A" grade but the milestone expands beyond the school.  For the first time ever all the high schools in the district received either an "A" or "B" grade. A welcomed accomplishment from a school year that included budget woes, teacher lay offs, and criminal investigations.

"Everyone just hung in there together.  And, tough time will show the character of someone and at this point with the high schools, its definitely shows there's a lot of character out there.  And, we're becoming a great team in this district," added Pauley