Here's a convoluted kick in the teeth. Follow along with me.
Grovetown High School, which opened last year, like all schools had to set criteria that would be used to show whether it met the standards of the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Ordinarily, high schools use their graduation rate as one of those standards. But Grovetown didn't have a graduation rate, because it didn't yet have any graduates.
So school officials decided to use attendance as one of the criteria. In recent years, with the help of such people as Juvenile Court Judge Doug Flanagan, Columbia County has toughened its attendance policies. Counting attendance as one of the criteria seemed like a safe choice.
When the school year began, the brand-new school brought together students who formerly had attended Harlem, Greenbrier and Evans high schools into a new melting pot - and early on, the pot boiled over.
During the first few days of school, a brawl broke out between more than two dozen students. Principal Penny Jackson, mindful that such actions needed a swift and strong reaction, provided it: All of the students involved in the fight, and any involved in subsequent spin-offs and other fights, were kicked out of school.
Though the effort still hasn't fully reassured some nervous parents, by the end of the year it had mostly clamped the lid on fights, and students talked about how they'd started to move beyond their geographic differences and come together as schoolmates. Kumbaya, and all that.
Then the report on Adequate Yearly Progress came out for all Columbia County schools, and just two had failed to meet the NCLB standard.
One was Harlem High School, which seems to have been punished because of its graduation rate - which suffered, oddly enough, when so many of its would-be graduates were either rezoned or chose to attend Grovetown.
The other was Grovetown, which failed to make AYP in part because it didn't meet its standard for attendance.
So, you might ask, what hurt Grovetown High School's attendance numbers?
The answer: Out-of-school suspensions, specifically those for students fighting.
In other words, school officials did the right thing by clamping down hard and quick on the hallway brawlers - and at the end of the year paid the price with the stigma of failing standards.
"I think their approach was exactly right, and now they're being punished for it," lamented Columbia County School Board member Mike Sleeper, as the board reviewed the otherwise very good AYP numbers for the year.
Hopefully, at least, now that the tough message was sent this past year, next year fights will be down - and attendance will be up.
Gotta love that federal bureaucracy.
Without question, Jake Ivey was one of the more highly regarded builders in this community. But he was also among the finest men this community has produced.
Sadly, Mr. Ivey passed away last week after battling complications from heart surgery.
Mr. Ivey had a long, productive history here in Columbia County, including serving as the county engineer decades ago, helping to lay the foundation for the county's booming growth.
He also served in numerous (and unpaid) leadership roles, including the board chairmanships of the Builders Association of Metro Augusta and the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, and as a deacon at Warren Baptist Church.
I suppose being a dad is an unpaid job, too, though he was well-compensated in that regard by building a rock-solid business that he was proud to share with his two sons.
In a world that often seems too tiresome and cynical, Jake Ivey was a genial, kind breath of fresh air who died entirely too young at age 66. May his family and friends be comforted by the memory that those 66 years were well lived.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail email@example.com. Follow at twitter.com/barrypaschal.)
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