Meadowlane Elementary wins national award

Meadowlane Elementary wins national award
View the presentation here

The Phenix City School System celebrated a momentous achievement on Jan. 9 at Meadowlane Elementary School. Superintendent Randy Wilkes, Meadowlane principal Aretha McDonald, and Phenix City mayor Eddie Lowe led a program in celebration of the school receiving the 2019 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) National Distinguished School Award. Meadowlane received the national award in Category 2 for closing the achievement gap between student groups, after meeting eligibility requirements as a Title I School, having a poverty rate of 90 percent or greater, and an overall growth rate of 90 percent or greater in reading and math. Meadowlane is one out of 73 schools across the nation to receive the prestigious 2019 award and the fourth school to be recognized for Category 2. The school will be recognized at the National ESEA Conference in Atlanta, Feb 4-7. 

 Wilkes said it was the week of Thanksgiving break when he received the email about the award, and at first, he thought it was a hoax until he had it verified from the state department. 

“You are receiving this award today on data, on the truth, and on the facts,” Wilkes said in his address to the Meadowlane community. “There was no special consideration. Today, you’re a beacon to the state and the nation. You’ve demonstrated that, regardless of your socioeconomic status, you can achieve. And you will, students, be productive members of society. You’ve not let the conditions of life dictate who you are and who you can be. There are no excuses here at Meadowlane. It’s your test scores that got us here today. Congratulations.”

Mayor Lowe, who attended Meadowlane about 49 years ago, congratulated its faculty, staff, and students for their incredible accomplishment. 

“The school system is only as good as the city, and the city is only as good as the school system,” Lowe said. “You become distinguished not because of who you are and where you’re from. You had faith, but it is also because of the community, the team.” 

“This recognition is very humbling,” Principal McDonald said, “While at the same time it is a privilege to be recognized as a distinguished school for the state of Alabama. This recognition did not happen by chance alone. It happened because of a collective effort and teamwork on the behalf of faculty and staff. Everyone worked extremely hard, and they were dedicated to the vision and mission.”

McDonald said that Meadowlane is now on the map, and that she is very proud of her teachers and students who worked hard the entire school year. She credited the teachers for understanding the importance of goal-setting in helping students achieve their goals. She also gave credit to her staff for helping to build a foundation that allows students to flourish at Meadowlane. 

Wilkes said the award was not even on the radar, which he believes adds credence to the award. Only seven other Alabama schools have received the award since 2012 and this is the first time for a Phenix City school. 

Meadowlane fourth-graders Vernon Gamble and Christian Sadilek led the Pledge of Allegiance, and fifth-graders Amoriya Horace and Kaylene Allen did an impressive job presenting the Phenix City Schools mission statement by memory and in perfect sync. You can find the mission statement on the PCS website: Also present were Phenix City School Board members, Phenix City Councilman Arthur Day, administrators, and Meadowlane staff. 

To see a list of all ESEA Distinguished School awardees and for more information, visit