Trinity School in Ellicott City and seven other elementary schools in Maryland have been honored as "blue ribbon" schools, a program of the Bush administration to improve the quality of education across the nation.
The schools were among 180 public and 41 private schools recognized at a ceremony hosted by President Bush earlier this week on the south lawn of the White House.
Gov. William Donald Schaefer and three other governors attended the ceremony as Bush sought to emphasize federal cooperation with the states in improving elementary schools.
To be eligible for the awards, schools had to have students with high achievement in mathematics and reading. Schools also were evaluated for how well they met community goals and students' needs.
The other Maryland schools honored were St. Andrew the Apostle in Silver Spring; North Chevy Chase Elementary; Middletown Elementary; Ivymount in Rockville; Heather Hills Elementary in Bowie; Gaithersburg Elementary, and Diamond Elementary in Gaithersburg.
Marie Ann Barnes, assistant principal at Trinity, said students, teachers and administrators were thrilled with the honor, which was originally announced in May but not recognized until Monday at the White House.
"I've been [at Trinity] a long time. I've seen the school develop and I know we're an exemplary school," Barnes said. "It just feels good when someone else comes in here and says you're outstanding."
She said the school was fortunate in that it had emphasized three areas that the competition judges were looking for this year -- geography, fine arts and hands-on science.
The science program includes a weather station from which students monitor daily barometer and rainfall readings, Barnes said. Being planned is an ambitious program for students to study plant and insect life.
American students have come under scrutiny in recent years for their lack of knowledge of geography, but not at Trinity.
"The social studies department has always felt that geography was extremely important and has made sure that it remains a part of the curriculum," Barnes said.
Schaefer said he hoped public schools in Maryland would be able to emphasize programs Bush stressed in his speech, including math and science achievement, getting parents to take responsibility for improving truancy and dropout rates and literacy classes for adults.