Sampson Independent

County schools earn national honor

Two high schools in Sampson County are excited about being ranked among the best in the country.

Hobbton High School (HHS) and Sampson Early College High School (SECHS) are recognized nationally for earning bronze medals in the U.S. News & World Report edition of Best High Schools. They are among 102 in North Carolina to earn the distinction. Throughout the state, 17 high schools earned gold medals and 33 achieved a silver ranking.

SECHS Principal Susan Westerbeek said the award shows the hard work and dedication from students and staff members. She added that parents an community members are involved in the success too.

“I’m very honored that we received that national award,” she said.

According to the publication, top-ranked schools succeed in three areas: exceeding expectations on state proficiency tests, offering challenging coursework and graduating students. U.S. News & World Report worked with RTI International, a North Carolina-based global nonprofit social science firm, to produce the rankings. RTI implemented the U.S. News comprehensive rankings methodology, which is based on these key principles: that a great high school must serve all of its students well, not just those who are college bound, and that it must be able to produce measurable academic outcomes to show it is successfully educating its student body across a range of performance indicators.

The SECHS program is set up for students to earn a high school diploma and a two-year college degree, in five years or less.

“They’re taking college work from day one when they enter Sampson Early College High School and the courses they take for high school are on the honors level,” Westerbeek said.

During the graduation ceremony at Sampson Community College, 43 students finished the program. The school graduation continues to increase throughout the years.

“That was awesome and it was the most we ever had,” Westerbeek said. “It shows that the students and the staff are committed to academics. It’s what they’re focused on and I think the students are held to high expectations by our staff through their rigorous instruction. I think the students are dedicated and they exceed those expectations.”

SECHS was honored in 2016 with the Bronze recognition.

HHS Principal Jennifer Daughtry was also excited about the honor. She was very surprised about receiving a call from Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy. She gave credit to students, teachers and program related to remediation and after-school tutorials.

“It was a goal that we had all year long and we met it,” Daughtry said about the improvement.

The school offers Advanced Placement in classrooms and online. Daughtry said she does not deny students the opportunity to take AP classes.

“If there’s a way that I can create a master schedule that’s going to allow a student to have AP courses, I do my very best,” she said.

Like many other schools, HHS works to increase its graduation rate. One of the efforts is making visits to homes when children are absent from school.

Daughtry said a caring staff makes a positive impact on the school.

“We’re facing a lot of challenges, but we have a staff that’s going the extra mile for the students,” Daughtry said about putting in effort beyond school hours. “We just do whatever it takes to meet their needs.”

Dr. Eric Bracy, superintendent of Sampson County Schools, applauded the work of the schools.

“Our expectation and that of our Board, staff, and parents is that all our schools will strive for high achievement on state and AP tests and will graduate students who are ready for college and careers. We congratulate Hobbton and Sampson Early College for earning national recognition and for making Sampson County Schools proud,” Bracy said.

Additional information about the awards is available online at

Principal Jennifer Daughtry speaks to students at Hobbton High School. Jennifer Daughtry speaks to students at Hobbton High School.
Shannon Sinclair teaches science to students at Sampson Early College High School. Sinclair teaches science to students at Sampson Early College High School.
Hobbton High, Sampson Early College get distinction

By Chase Jordan

Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.