National Blue Ribbon awards go to seven schools in area, including a D.C. public charter

September 25, 2013

The U.S. Department of Education this week recognized seven Washington area schools with National Blue Ribbon awards for exemplary performance.

The schools in the Washington region — including two traditional public schools, one public charter school and four private schools — were among 286 schools honored across the country.

“Excellence in education matters and we should honor the schools that are leading the way to prepare students for success in college and careers,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement.

Blue Ribbon schools are named either for exceptionally high performance or improvement.

The sole public-school winner in the District was a top-ranked charter, D.C. Preparatory Academy’s Edgewood Elementary, recognized for its high performance.

In Maryland, local winners included one public school, Montgomery County’s Robert Frost Middle School in Rockville, and two parochial schools: Holy Cross in Garrett Park and St. John the Evangelist in Silver Spring.

Virginia winners included Westbriar Elementary in Fairfax County and St. Veronica Catholic School in Chantilly.

D.C. Prep, the Northeast Washington school that received the honor, was founded a decade ago with the aim of closing the city’s persistent achievement gap. It serves nearly 400 mostly low-income children in preschool through third grade.

By the time they leave third grade, more than 70 percent of D.C. Prep students are proficient in math and reading, according to standardized test scores, far outpacing the city average. School officials said the Blue Ribbon award announcement has been exciting not only for teachers but also for students and their families.

“It’s an awesome acknowledgment and reinforcement of the great work that’s happening here,” said Nicole Bryan, Edgewood’s principal from 2010 to 2013. “We’re going to continue doing what we’re doing and get better for our kids and our community.”

Bryan has now stepped into a new role: overseeing early childhood education for the D.C. Prep network and planning for further expansion.

D.C. Prep operates a total of four schools serving about 1,200 children in preschool through middle school. Eventually, it plans to run 10 schools enrolling about 3,300 students.

The Blue Ribbon award “gives us a great platform to think about how we want to serve more families in D.C. moving forward,” said Rick Cruz, D.C. Prep’s chief executive officer.

The other District winner was St. Peter School, a 145-year-old Catholic school on Capitol Hill.

“We are absolutely thrilled,” Principal Jennifer Ketchum said in a statement. “As a community, our ambition is to ‘always reach higher.’ ”

Federal officials will honor all the winners at a ceremony in Washington in November.

Emma Brown writes about D.C. education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.
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