SEPTEMBER 28, 2017
Six Oklahoma Schools Receive Blue Ribbon Awards
EDMOND — In her school's 16-page Blue Ribbon application, Grove Valley Elementary School Principal Kelly McCoy notes that a primary reason for the success of students is "a high level of excellent classroom instruction that is provided by the teachers."
"I am very fortunate to be able to lead a school of teachers that are incredibly talented and highly motivated," McCoy told The Oklahoman. "We all have a vision that we want to do whatever we can to help children be successful in the classroom."
That vision is paying off for the Deer Creek district school, one of six Oklahoma schools named Thursday as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2017 by the U.S. Education Department.
The schools are Earl Harris Elementary School (Bethany Public Schools); Centennial Elementary School (Edmond Public Schools); Cheyenne Middle School (Edmond Public Schools); Grove Valley; Dove Science Academy (Oklahoma City Public Schools); and Westwood Elementary School (Stillwater Public Schools).
Blue Ribbon Recognition is based on a school's overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.
All six Oklahoma schools were honored for academic performance.
To be considered for the award, each school had to submit lengthy portfolios which included summaries of school climate, successful academic strategies, professional development for teachers, and other components of school culture.
It is the first Blue Ribbon designation in the 17-year history of Dove Science Academy in Oklahoma City, a public charter school that serves 500 students in grades six through 12. Most are minorities who come from economically disadvantaged families, Superintendent Umit Alpaslan said.
"It is just an official endorsement of our efforts to promote college-bound education in our schools and promote college readiness at all levels," Alpaslan said.
Bethany Superintendent Drew Eichelberger praised Earl Harris Elementary teachers, students and administrators for the school's achievement.
"They've worked so hard to make this happen and they've earned this," Eichelberger said. "They've been a great school for years and they're finally getting national recognition for their hard work."
It is the first Blue Ribbon designation for Centennial and the second for Cheyenne, which was named a Blue Ribbon School in 2009, officials said.
SMLCheyenne Principal Michelle Grinsteiner gave credit for Cheyenne's successes to families, students, staff and current and past administrators.
"Cheyenne is an enthusiastic learning community where parents, students and staff place a significant value on education," she said. "We believe in educating the whole child and offering abundant and wide-ranging learning experiences for all students."
Cheyenne opened its doors in 2000 and serves 884 students while Centennial Elementary opened in 2007 and serves 870 students.
"We consider it a privilege to serve our students and families and we are humbled to receive this prestigious honor recognizing our successes," Centennial Principal Jessele Miller said. "As we look toward the future, our focus will continue to be 'Exploring New Frontiers of Excellence.'"
It was the first award for Grove Valley, a suburban school in the Deer Creek district that serves 549 children in kindergarten through fourth grade.
Deer Creek Superintendent Ranet Tippens characterized Grove Valley's Blue Ribbon award as "a beacon of light shining upon every student, teacher and parent."
SML"This award recognizes what we want and strive for every child: academic excellence!" Tippens said.
State schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister offered congratulations to "these six educational communities for being recognized as among the very best in the United States."
"High levels of academic achievement require visionary leadership, exceptional educators who prioritize meeting the needs of students every day and the support of engaged families," Hofmeister said in a statement. "I am inspired by the effort and teamwork that went into this accomplishment and the high bar these schools are setting for their faculty and students."
The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students achieve very high learning standards or are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gaps.
In all, 342 schools nationally received Blue Ribbon designation Thursday.
All schools are honored in one of two performance categories based on student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates: Exemplary High Performing Schools or Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools.
Exemplary High Performing Schools are among the state's highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or national tests. Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools are among the state's highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school's subgroups and all students over the past five years.