Awards have brightened two southern Anne Arundel County schools this spring: a National Blue Ribbon Award for Mayo Elementary School, and an innovative way to recognize the academic achievements of a South River High School student with stellar grades.
Mayo Elementary Principal Victoria C. Waidner called the school in for an assembly Friday, gave teachers cymbals and other musical instruments, piped in a taped version of "Stars and Stripes Forever" and let the 278 students, 11 classroom teachers and nine other professional faculty members know they had just received the National Blue Ribbon Award.
"It's a tremendous honor," she said, describing herself as "overwhelmingly very happy -- for everyone involved. The whole staff, the students, the community."
She said it's especially rewarding that a school tucked away on a peninsula with just one access road was recognized.
"It's just a great feeling of pride" for the families of the students, she said, many of whom have lived in Mayo for years and helped the school buy more than a dozen computers with Giant supermarket receipts.
Mayo Elementary is one of seven elementary schools in the state and the only one in Anne Arundel County selected by the U.S. Department of Education for the honor, which was begun in 1985 and has recognized about 3 percent of schools across the country. The award alternates each year between elementary and secondary schools.
"I think it was exciting," said fifth-grader Shannon Forrester, 11. "It's fun being a blue ribbon school because we get to do a lot of stuff."
That includes a parade tomorrow with banners made by each class, to be followed by an outdoor cookout at the school.
Waidner applied for the award last fall, filling out six pages of questions about demographics, test scores, race and student learning abilities.
The faculty wrote a 38-page summary statement about the 60-year-old school that answered dozens of questions about instruction methods, curriculum, parent volunteers, extracurricular activities and the teaching of children with learning disabilities.
A Department of Education representative spent two days examining the school and interviewed Waidner for several hours.
While the staff at Mayo Elementary applied itself to paperwork, Jason R. Summers of Davidsonville was applying himself to his school work.
Last month, he got his reward.
The 17-year-old received a letterman's jacket: blue wool with white trim, a snap front and a big S emblazoned on the back. But he has never been on a school athletic team.
He prefers instead the chess club and the math club. He's also on academic teams that compete against other students in game-show-style quiz shows. He has excelled in math, science and enough other honors classes to get a 4.3 grade point average -- the highest in his junior class. "I have never gotten a C," he said.
Students receive extra percentage points for grades in honors classes, which can raise their grades higher than the standard 4.0 scale.
This year, Summers was the first student in the school to receive an academic letter award under the school's policy of giving accolades for grades and not just sports.
It's the first time South River has given out an academic award, though about a quarter of the high schools in Anne Arundel County have given similar awards to about a dozen students, according to schools spokeswoman Jane Doyle.
At the National Honor Society ceremony at the school last month, when new members were inducted, Summers was invited to the stage with his parents. Then, to his surprise, he was given the jacket with his name sewn on the front and the letter on the back. "They hadn't told me a thing about it I had a hard time speaking," he said.
Pub Date: 6/02/97