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St. Michael School celebrates Blue Ribbon award

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

By David Eck

ST. ANDREW DEANERY — If you saw a fire engine at St. Michael School in Sharonville the morning of Nov. 5, there was no need to have been concerned.

It wasn’t an emergency that brought the truck to  the school, but a celebration. City and school officials rode the fire truck several blocks to the school in honor of St. Michael winning the Blue Ribbon award from the United States Department of Education (DOE).

School principal Jody Farrell and veteran teacher Janet Bessler traveled to Washington D.C. Nov. 1-4 to accept the award.

The Blue Ribbon program recognizes schools that are academically superior or demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement to high levels, according to a DOE website.

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St. Michael administrators, faculty and staff display the Blue Ribbon award. (Courtesy photo)

St. Michael School and St. Veronica School in Mt. Carmel were among the 314 schools nationwide to receive the coveted award this year. Only 50 private schools in the country won the award this year and only six of those were in Ohio.

Students at St. Michael wore special blue shirts and greeted school officials in the parking lot to kick off the celebration. Sharonville Mayor Virgil Lovitt proclaimed Nov. 5 “St. Michael Day” in Sharonville. Farrell and Bessler, who has taught at the school for more than 40 years, spoke of their trip to Washington and some of the older students read poems. Parents shared thoughts on why the school is special.

“It was just kind of a ‘wow’ experience,” Farrell said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen so much school pride.”

The trip to Washington gave Farrell a new appreciation for the honor.

“I knew it was a big deal,” she said. “I didn’t realize how big it was until I got out there and met people from all over the country. We heard from the secretary of education. We heard congratulations from so many people.

“For me personally it was something that I always wanted to accomplish,” said Farrell, who has been principal at St. Michael for 15 years. “To actually be recognized is this feeling of pride. We have great parents, faculty and staff and students.”

Since the announcement of the award in September teachers have been teaching their students about the award and using it to help motivate them to reach their potential. Discussions touch on excellence, being centered in Christ, respecting each other and seeing God in everyone.

School receptionists recognized the award by mentioning it when answering the phone. Girls also painted their fingernails blue, and students wore blue socks.

A foreign language program and strong technology program along with excellence in other areas helped the school win the Blue Ribbon, Farrell said.

“It’s a huge sense of pride and sense that we’re really doing some of the right things,” Farrell said. “I can’t convey the excitement that was here yesterday and the enthusiasm. It was like one huge smile.”

David Eck can be reached at [email protected].

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