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School named one of nation’s best

NATCHEZ — U.S. News & World Report has named Natchez Early College Academy one of the nation’s “2020 Best High Schools” and No. 3 in the state.

“I was just overwhelmed with pride and excitement for our community, our students and our staff,” said Heather Jackson, NECA principal of hearing the news earlier this week. “Our staff and students work so hard, and I’m glad to see all of their hard work pay off.”

The title of best schools comes with ranking in the top 40% nationally, according to U.S. News criteria for ranking the schools. NECA ranked in the top 2,000 of over 24,000 schools in the U.S. and ranked the No. 3 high school in the State of Mississippi, the report sates.

Schools are ranked based on their graduation rate, their students’ performance on state-required tests and how well they prepare students for college.

Jackson said parental involvement and support has been a crucial element to the school’s success.

NECA is a relatively young school in the Natchez Adams School District and was founded approximately five years ago on the campus of Copiah Lincoln Community College.

Each year, the program continues to grow, Jackson said, adding NECA has a capacity of approximately 200 students.

“This is my first year as an administrator and last year I was part of the team as a guidance counselor,” Jackson said. “Every year we do see tremendous growth. … A lot of people assume NECA is only for the highest performing students but truly there are plenty of average students that have a tremendous work ethic, and they are the ones who thrive here.”

The school is unique in that it offers students a chance to graduate from high school with an associate’s degree and to have a head start on college or their career, Jackson said.

NASD Superintendent Fred Butcher attributed NECA’s success to a combination of high expectations, dedication and hard work from the school administrator, staff and parents as well as the students themselves.

“We want to thank the students and parents for keeping high expectations and Mrs. Jackson and her staff for helping them meet and exceed those expectations,” Butcher said. “NECA started off as an experimental program that worked out very well. Our graduation rate is very high. We continue to solicit support from our community and our school board. We hope NECA will continue to be a bright light for our community. We really hope to see the parental support we’ve had at NECA grow throughout our school system.”