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SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Sasebo Elementary School, nearing the end of its first full year, recently earned accreditation for the 2003-04 school year from an established independent accreditation commission.

“Accreditation demonstrates to our students, parents and community that we … are maintaining an efficient and effective operation staffed by highly qualified educators,” said principal Christy Blevins.

Sasebo Elementary was created last summer when Ernest J. King Unit School split, forming the elementary school and E.J. King High School.

The school was accredited by the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement, a nongovernmental, voluntary organization that accredits more than 9,000 public and private schools.

To be accredited, schools must meet quality standards and implement an improvement plan focused on enhancing student performance. Teams of educators visit schools up for accreditation and interview teachers, students and staff, according to the organization’s Web site. Such teams visit yearly; Sasebo Elementary expects another visit during the 2004-05 school year.

Accreditation is voluntary and must be renewed each year, but all DODDS schools in the Pacific undergo accreditation, explained Susan Szeremet, leader of Sasebo Elementary’s improvement team.

She said Wednesday that those involved with Sasebo Elementary are particularly pleased the school earned accreditation in its first year. “But we’ve really been preparing for a few years, because we had many of the same school improvement goals when we were part of the Ernest J. King Unit School,” said Szeremet.

“This accreditation process is typical of schools in the U.S. but out here it really is a big deal,” she said. “All the DODDS schools in the Pacific work to improve schools for the accreditation.”

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