Middle Ridge Elementary School administrators and Newton County School System officials on Tuesday celebrated the elementary school’s national recognition for making exceptional improvements.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that Middle Ridge Elementary is a 2013 National Blue Ribbon School. Duncan made the announcement live via the U.S. Department of Education’s USTREAM channel, which was viewed by recognized principals, teachers, and students assembled across the country, according to the NCSS.
Middle Ridge is one of only 286 schools in the nation designated as 2013 National Blue Ribbon Schools. Only nine Georgia schools — eight public and one private — earned the special designation.
The Blue Ribbon Schools award honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students perform at very high levels or where significant improvements are being made in student achievement. The program recognizes schools in two performance categories. The first is "Exemplary High Performing," in which schools are recognized as being among their state’s highest-performing schools, as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests.
Middle Ridge earned its designation in the second category, "Exemplary Improving," in which schools that have at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds demonstrate progress in improving student achievement levels as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests.
The U.S. Department of Education will honor the 236 public and 50 private schools at a recognition ceremony on Nov. 18-19 in Washington, D.C. In its 31-year history, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has presented its coveted award to nearly 7,500 of America’s schools.
In addition to the National Blue Ribbon School honor, officials with Baxter International stopped by Middle Ridge Tuesday afternoon to donate 12 boxes of school supplies, which included stacks of notebook paper, colored pencils, uniforms, shoes and other school necessities. NCSS Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey and Craig Lockhart, deputy superintendent of schools, visited the school to accept the school supply donations with MES principal Michael Forehand. Fuhrey also congratulated Forehand and the staff, faculty and parents of Middle Ridge for all of their hard work in earning national recognition.
As school system and Baxter International officials visited the school, Forehand showed a video of the National Blue Ribbon Schools announcement and noted that the school’s achievement is due to its teachers and parent volunteers.
Chandra Mitchell, MES parent involvement coordinator, said the school has 10 parent volunteers per day who help out at the school. Mitchell said any time the school needs assistance, she can call on parent volunteers for their support.
Forehand thanked parent volunteers who were at the school organizing books. He also acknowledged the schools’ teachers and its previous administrators.
"I feel extremely proud of them. They’ve worked so hard since five years ago when Mrs. Karen Crowder was the principal here, then it went to Mr. Alan Satterfield and now myself. … But the consistency has always been the teachers. They work very hard to overcome the challenges that they face," Forehand said.
"You see a lot of things on the news all the time about the negative things happening in the schools. We’re finally seeing some of the positive things, especially on a national level for a school right here in Newton County."
School administrators and staff later celebrated with cake.