Bodkin Elementary wins Blue Ribbon

Nine schools in Md. earn national honor

May 18, 2001|By Stephanie Desmon | Stephanie Desmon,SUN STAFF

Principal Rocco Ferretti got the call about 2 p.m. yesterday: U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes was on the phone to tell him that his school, Bodkin Elementary in Pasadena, had been named a national Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.

Then he spoke over the public address system to share the big news. "I asked all the boys and girls to put their pencils down and look up at their teachers and congratulate them as teachers at a Blue Ribbon School," Ferretti said. "They're just beaming with pride."

Bodkin isn't Anne Arundel County's only winner of this prestigious award: Benfield Elementary School in Severna Park also was honored. Anne Arundel was the only public school district in Maryland to win two blue ribbons this year. Of the 264 schools that won nationwide, nine are in Maryland. Two years ago, Oak Hill Elementary in Severna Park and West Annapolis Elementary received the honor, as did The Summit School, a private school in Edgewater.

"It verifies that there are some really good things going on in our schools," said district spokeswoman Jane W. Beckett. "That's great news for the system and for the community those schools serve."

The winning schools were selected for achievement in such areas as student performance, instruction, organization, parent involvement, standards, curriculum and leadership.

The pupils at Benfield haven't received official notification of their blue ribbon. All kinds of surprises are in store for them today, including an assembly starring the school mascot, "Benny the Bulldog." Each classroom will be decorated with blue helium balloons to celebrate the occasion, said Liz League, president of Benfield's PTA.

"We're having a little to-do," she said. "We're just absolutely bursting at the seams [because of the news]."

Ferretti said he doesn't have money for a big celebration. Yesterday, he bought two blue ribbons to hang on the school (at $18 a pop, with his own money). But professional respect is all the celebration he and his staff need, he said.

A few years ago, Ferretti said, Bodkin's test scores were "dismal."

"We just took it personally and worked incredibly hard [after that]," he said. In 1999, the school had the highest scores in the state on the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program, up from 170th the year before.

"I don't think anyone took us seriously," he said. "They thought, `What a fluke this is. Boy, is that weird.' We wanted to prove there was nothing fluky about it."

So the school showed off its MSPAP prowess again last year.

And now it has a blue ribbon to go with it.

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