[r63] Area schools achieving excellence

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Friday, October 4, 2013

Does your child attend Holy Family School in Jasper? Or, are you a member of the Jasper community? If so, you now have even more reason to be proud of your child and city. Last week, the U.S. Department of Education honored Holy Family School in Jasper as a National Blue Ribbon School.  

This makes them one of 286 schools from across the country to receive the award this year. In addition to Holy Family, 11 of those schools are from right here in Indiana, up 4 from last year. You may not be familiar with this award; however it has been around for over 30 years. And believe me when I say, receiving this award is quite an honor.

Each year, up to 420 schools can be nominated to receive the award. Nominations are not submitted by just anyone however. Nomination requests are submitted by the top education officials from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Department of Defense Education Activity as well as the Bureau of Indian Education. Once a school has been nominated, they are then asked to submit an application for possible recognition. 

Any public or private elementary, middle or high school in the United States is eligible to receive this award given that they must meet one of two criteria. These criteria include (1) overall academic excellence or (2) progress in improving student academic achievement. 

In order to be considered ‘exemplary high performing,’ the school must be ranked among their state’s highest performing institutions based on results of state assessments, such as Indiana’s ISTEP test and/or national-normed tests. 

The designation of ‘exemplary improving’ is also based on results from these same tests. To receive this title, of the school’s student population coming from disadvantaged backgrounds, at least 40 percent must demonstrate the most progress in improving student achievement levels. 

I truly cannot stress enough what an honor it is for one of our schools to receive this award. I am so impressed that even at a young age these students have shown a commitment to excellence and a recognition of the importance of hard work and dedication.

The students are not the only ones who deserve acknowledgment though. When schoolchildren perform well academically, you can almost guarantee that there were many people who came together to make that possible whether that be by providing direct support or simply cultivating an overall environment conducive to developing and learning. This includes everyone from the parents and extended families, to the teachers and principal, to the community members - they all play a role in student success. In particular however, I want to personally thank and congratulate Holy Family’s Principal Sally Sternberg on her tireless efforts to make her school a shining star in our state. 

I also want to take this opportunity to acknowledge Pine Ridge Elementary School of Birdseye for receiving the Blue Ribbon School recognition as well. While they may not be a part of District 63, the school is situated very close to my home and many of my friends and neighbors have children who attend there. They too should be extremely proud of all they have accomplished.  

The Department of Education will honor all Blue Ribbon winners on November 18th and 19th in our nation’s capital. As these students continue their academic careers, I am confident that we will again hear of their successes down the road. I applaud them on their achievements and I am very proud to see so many future leaders of Indiana growing up right here in Jasper!