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Two local schools add blue ribbon distinction

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Friday, September 25, 2009

By David Eck

ARCHDIOCESE — Students at two local Catholic elementary schools were buzzing with excitement Sept. 15 when their schools were awarded blue ribbons from the U. S. Department of Education.

St. Michael School in Sharonville and St. Veronica School in Mt. Carmel were among the 314 schools nationwide to receive the coveted award this year.

The Blue Ribbon program recognizes schools that are academically superior or demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement to high levels, according to  the Department of Education.

From left, St. Veronica students Hailey Beesteh, Kelly Mathis, and Connor O’Keefe enjoy some blue ice cream in celebration of the school’s Blue Ribbon award. (CT/Tony Tribble)

“I am extremely proud of our schools who, year after year, continue to grab a disproportionate share of the Blue Ribbon School awards,” said Marianist Brother Joe Kamis, archdiocesan superintendent of Catholic schools. “Only 50 private schools won the award this year in the nation and only six in Ohio, and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati won two of these. This is a credit to the leadership of our schools and to the faculty and staffs who are so committed to Catholic education. St. Veronica and St. Michael deserve these awards so much.”

Representatives from the schools will receive the awards at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. next month.

A school-wide Spanish language program implemented in the 2008-09 academic year helped St. Veronica fulfill the requirements of the Blue Ribbon program, administrators said.

“The teachers here just do a fantastic job reaching all students and keeping academic standards high,” said Gina Code, principal at St. Veronica School. “Everyone’s involved. It’s such a community school. Everybody is on the same page as doing the best they can for our school.”

Students at St. Veronica celebrated the blue ribbon with an all-school rally, muisc, singing and blue ice cream.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said eighth-grader Megan Niebuhr. “It’s kind of cool knowing that everyone knows about us now and I hope more people will come to the school and know what a great school we are.”

She said the award is a testament to the teachers and the education the school provides its students.

Students at St. Michael School stand by the parish sign on Creek Road. (Courtesy photo)

“I really like all the teachers and how committed they are to our education,” Niebuhr said. “The teachers are the most important part, I think. They always are [pushing] us to do better and challenging us to do things that we thought we never could do. It’s exciting knowing that everyone contributed to getting this award. It’s like a small family.”

Officials at St. Michael School are planning a large bash for the entire school Nov. 5. Festivities will include a prayer service and pep rally as the awards are formally presented to the school community.

Students also will participate in blue “fun” on a weekly basis.  They will be asked on specific days to don various blue items including blue socks, or their Blue Ribbon t-shirts. There will also be blue treats offered to students.

“I think it just increases the pride in the school spirit people have,” said Jody Farrell, principal. “It confirms the excellent job the teachers are already doing. It’s very affirming.”

David Eck can be reached at [email protected].

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