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Durham School Rebounds From Fire, Places More Emphasis On Teaching

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DURHAM, N.C. — W.G. Pearson Elementary School opened Monday morning. It is one of four Durham schools the state considers "high priority" because more than 80 percent of the students qualify for the reduced and free lunch program. As a result, classes are smaller and there is a stronger emphasis on learning.

This year, each of the high priority schools has added five extra days to the school calendar. Teachers welcome the added class time.

"Children forget so much between the end of school last year and the beginning and anything you can do to make up for that gap," teacher Thernarda Crudup-Harris said.

Officials said high priority does not always mean low performance.

"This past year, [W.G.] Pearson reached its highest growth rate for reading and writing ever," principal Emmett Tilley said.

The elementary school grew as expected, 63 percent of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders tested at or above grade level, and that is up from below 30 percent several years ago.

The staff at W.G. Pearson was faced with another challenge this year. In July, there was a


that damaged most of the second floor and destroyed two classrooms. However, through community donations and a $1 million makeover, officials say the school is ready for its students.


Julia Lewis, Reporter
Don Ingle, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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