Friday, May 21, 1999

6 schools earn national Blue Ribbons

Federal agency honors excellence

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Six Cincinnati-area elementary schools have earned national Blue Ribbon awards — the highest recognition from the U.S. Department of Education.

        The schools — among 266 public and private Blue Ribbon winners nationwide announced Thursday — are selected to represent the country's most successful elementary education programs.

        At Lakota's Freedom Elementary School — claiming its second Blue Ribbon — the good news reached students and staff via principal Dave Tobergte, who announced it over closed-circuit television. By 2 p.m. Thursday, Freedom's hallways were echoing with applause.

        “The first time, you have to show you're an excellent school,” Mr. Tobergte said of the school's 1992 Blue Ribbon. “And the second time, you have to show measurable, marked improvement from where you were the first time you won.”

        Along with Freedom, the winners are:

        • John F. Dumont School, Madeira City School District.

        • Hilltop Elementary School, Reading Community City School District.

        • Mason Heights Elementary School, Mason City School District.

        • St. James of White Oak School, Archdiocese of Cincinnati schools.

        • St. John the Baptist School, Colerain Township, Archdiocese of Cincinnati schools.

        This is Dumont School's second Blue Ribbon, too, matching it with the double Blue Ribbon status of Madeira's two other schools.

        “What makes Dumont stand out is the excellent teaching staff and high parent involvement,” said principal Cathy Swami.

        Reading's Hilltop hooked a Blue Ribbon after twice making it to the state level of competition, in 1992 and '96.

        “It's the ultimate. When you're recognized at the national level for being an outstanding school, it means you're doing a lot of things right,” said principal Wanda Hill.

        The Blue Ribbon process — high schools compete next year — begins when a school completes a lengthy application to the state Department of Education. (Private schools file with an independent, private school council.)

        State officials then nominate selected schools for the national award. Nominated schools are visited by a team of judges before the final selection is made.

        Blue Ribbon schools represent overall excellence in areas such as academic leadership, teaching, teacher development, curriculum and parental involvement.


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