Tuesday, May 23, 2000

CHCA, McAuley among the best

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Even a tornado's direct hit couldn't knock the students, teachers and staff of Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy Middle School off course.

        The independent, nondenominational school in Sycamore Township was named one of the nation's Blue Ribbon Schools on Monday — just a little more than a year after winds ripped the roof off the school and forced 340 students to temporary quarters at the neighboring Cincinnati Hills Christian High School.

        Also receiving Blue Ribbon honors is McAuley High School in College Hill.

        The two are among only seven schools in Ohio and 198 in the nation to earn the highest acknowledgement from the U.S. Department of Education.

Making changes
        Officials at McAuley, an all-girls Catholic school, did not wait long to start celebrating.

        Less than an hour after receiving notification of the award, the school's voice mail greeting proudly boasted of the accomplishment.

        “We just found out at 2 p.m., and we're already making some changes,” said McAuley Principal Cheryl Sucher. “We are pretty excited, needless to say.”

        Cincinnati Hills is a 353-student school in its 10th year. The middle school building was rededicated at the opening of the school year after the 1999 tornado. Massive efforts by parents, faculty, and staff, local companies, and volunteers resulted in only three lost school days after it was damaged by a tornado last April.

        It has a reputation for strong academics, character development, and a developmentally appropriate environment.

Learning process
        The Reading Community School District has won two of the awards in recent years, and Mason City Schools has had three.

        The award goes to schools that undergo an extensive application process. It rewards things such as a strong learning environment, family and business partnerships, and academic achievement.

        To be considered at the national level, a school must be recommended by its state department of education and then must undergo an evaluation given by a national review panel.

        Mrs. Sucher said McAuley administrators decided only last May to apply for the award, dividing into committees to fill out the 40-page application.

        “It is very extensive, and we learned about ourselves just from the process,” said Mrs. Sucher, whose school enrolls 940 students and is owned and operated by the Sisters of Mercy. “This year is the 40th anniversary of the school, and what an anniversary present.”


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