The last few weeks have proved quite exciting for Midland Valley High School principal Carl White, the faculty and the students.

The 2011-12 seniors improved the school’s SAT college entrance exam performance by 52 points with a composite average of 1489, just one point behind South Aiken High, which previously held the school district’s top score.

Last month, the State Department of Education released the first letter grades for each high school. Midland Valley’s “B” grade was the district’s highest.

White readily acknowledged that these assessments only provide a “snapshot” of school’s overall performance.

“But it’s a time for us to celebrate the accomplishment of our teachers,” he said.

“It gives our students a chance to enjoy something positive, and it’s also an opportunity for our community to celebrate. But things go in cycles and we don’t want just a one-year snapshot, but one over the next five years.”

Midland Valley’s guidance department and teachers are promoting more rigorous academic classes – including Advanced Placement – to younger students. They’ve created a program called “AP Ambassadors,” a club targeting not only freshmen, but eighth-graders at their feeder schools, Leavelle McCampbell Middle School and LBC Middle School.

“We want to get them more interested and excited about taking AP courses,” White said. “We’re allowing the (freshmen) to eat outside and having conversations about these classes with them.”

The faculty is encouraging students in grades 10-12 to take AP and honors classes as well. There’s also a renewed focus on literacy, with teachers giving students about 10 minutes in class to participate in silent, sustained reading for fun.

Midland Valley’s math teachers are meeting monthly with their middle school counterparts, conferring on what the younger students will need to know when they start high school.

“We feel good about our interaction with our students and for these accomplishments,” said White. “But we’re already thinking about next year.”