Next week, Ocean Springs Middle School will throw a big party to honor more than 400 students. That's because last year, the seventh graders made the highest score in the state on the Mississippi Writing Test.
And with the next test coming up in less than two weeks, this year's seventh graders are really pushing themselves to make it to the top once again.
"I was thrilled! I could of ran to each one of their houses and hugged them," said Leah Puzz, Language Arts teacher at Ocean Springs Middle School.
That was how she reacted when she learned that her school received the highest composite score on the Mississippi Writing Assessment last year. On a four point scale, the seventh graders made a 2.5 average on their essays. That's actually higher than the state average of 2.2.
"They worked so hard. And I could tell after they took that test, when they hit the hallways, they were excited. I've never seen that in five years," said Puzz.
So what's the secret behind their sharp writing skills? They start writing essays from day one, focusing on grammar, sentence transitions, and descriptive language.
"We actually write with our children, and a lot of one-on-one peer editing," said Puzz.
And this week, the school brought in substitute teachers to watch the Language Arts classes, so the teachers could have time for intense tutoring sessions with each student.
"They are able to sit there with their essays, speak with me maybe about the frustrations they're having with writing and what they're doing well," said Puzz.
James Noblin and Landon Twiggs were among the students who made the highest marks on the test.
"I was excited," said Twiggs. "We were prepared. We wrote a ton of essays in class."
And they have some advice for this year's seventh graders, who are preparing for the upcoming assessment. The next state writing test is March first.
"Just don't be nervous. Just go into it and be ready," said Noblin.
"I'm expecting them to do well, just as well," said Puzz. "They have done fabulous so far and they've stepped up to the plate. I would love a four, but whatever we get, I'll be happy with."
To reward the students for their outstanding achievement, the PTO and the school are hosting a Carnival next Thursday from 12:30-2:30 PM.
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