Aiken County School District officials formally presented 20 schools with banners last week, recognizing the Palmetto Gold and Silver awards they won for general performance and closing the achievement gap.

The awards were announced in March. The State Department of Education sent out the banners earlier this month.

A State Department spokesman said the program began with the Education Accountability Act of 1998. Each year, schools are recognized for high performance and for student improvement on state standardized tests.

The performance criteria was approved through the S.C. Education Oversight Committee. The achievement gap recognition was added to the awards program five years ago.

Belvedere Elementary School was among the Gold Award winners for general performance.

Keisha Lloyd-Kennedy, director the of charter Aiken Performing Arts Academy, was thrilled to learn that the school also received a Gold performance award.

“When I told the teachers Friday, they just cheered,” she said.

Other schools that received gold awards for overall performance were Belvedere Elementary School, the Aiken Performing Arts Academy, the Aiken County Career and Technology Center, Aiken Elementary School, Chukker Creek Elementary School, Hammond Hill Elementary School, Millbrook Elementary School, North Augusta High School, North Augusta Middle School and South Aiken High School.

Silver performance honors went to Byrd Elementary School, Jackson Middle School, Jefferson Elementary School, Kennedy Middle School, North Augusta Elementary School and Schofield Middle School.

Schools that received Gold awards for closing the achievement gap were Chukker Creek, Kennedy and Schofield.

Silver awards in achievement gap performance went to Aiken Elementary School, East Aiken School of the Arts, New Ellenton Middle School, Redcliffe Elementary School and Warrenville Elementary School.

Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard’s education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001. He is a native of Walterboro and majored in journalism at the University of Georgia.