The nearly 600 pupils at Folger McKinsey Elementary School certainly were excited when the school's National Blue Ribbon flag was unveiled - cheering and clapping and pumping their little fists in the air as they sang the school's "We Rock, We Rule" anthem. But the pupils sounded most excited when it was announced that they would each be getting a doughnut with red, white and blue sprinkles with their lunch Monday as a reward.
They'd earned the treats.
The U.S. Department of Education named Folger McKinsey a National Blue Ribbon School - a designation also earned by five other Maryland schools last year. It is among 295 Blue Ribbon Schools nationwide. Folger McKinsey was named to the list in September and is the seventh school in the county to win the distinction. It was previously named a Maryland Blue Ribbon School.
"You should really be proud of being at this school," Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes told the pupils at the flag ceremony Monday, reminding them that as they continue through the school system to middle school and high school, they will be expected to continue to work hard.
"When you get to middle school and they know you came from Folger McKinsey," Sarbanes said, "you're going to have to continue to perform well to sustain the reputation."
Since 2002, the Department of Education has recognized schools that reflect the standards and meet the goals of the No Child Left Behind Act, according to the department's Web site. The National Blue Ribbon School honor is bestowed on public and private K-12 schools that either are academically superior or demonstrate significant gains in student achievement, according to the department.
Folger McKinsey is in the category of schools recognized for superior academic achievement. The elementary school of about 600 pupils had 95 percent of third- and fifth-graders score in the proficient range or above in state assessment tests in the 2003-2004 school year, when the school submitted its application for the Blue Ribbon Schools program.
The Severna Park school has had a reputation in the community for being high-achieving, according to Principal Alison Lee. But test scores aren't the only measure of a school, she said Monday.
The school's motto is "Together, we make a difference" and Lee noted the involvement of parents, volunteers, teachers, student teachers and support staff in the school's success.
"I'm fortunate as a principal to have these people as my team," she said.
The school's Blue Ribbon application says the school has more than 200 active volunteers and that pupils have opportunities at Folger McKinsey with activities such as foreign language classes, math clubs, drama programs, yoga classes and literature groups, among others.
It was noted Monday that interim Superintendent Nancy M. Mann once served as principal of Folger McKinsey and that her grandson will be a student there two years from now. Mann told the pupils to pat themselves on the back - which most of them did, vigorously.
"Folger McKinsey was a great school then and continues to be a great school," she said.
The flag ceremony was supposed to be held outdoors, so pupils could raise the flag, but rain kept the children, teachers, staff and visitors - including County Councilwoman Cathleen M. Vitale and school board member Paul Rudolph - indoors. But Lee said the flag would be raised "on the next sunny day," so that everyone can see it as they come in and out of the school.