2 Howard schools honored

October 07, 2007|By John-John Williams IV | John-John Williams IV,Sun reporter

River Hill High and Burleigh Manor Middle were honored by the U.S. Department of Education as two of seven No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon Schools in Maryland and two of 287 in the country.

The National Blue Ribbon award recognizes academic excellence or major gains in achievement.

Clarksville Middle School was a winner of the award last year.

River Hill and Burleigh Manor will be recognized next month at a ceremony in Washington.

"Their selection is very exciting," said Patti Caplan, county schools spokeswoman. "It is a tribute to the leadership, the teachers, the students and the community."

Burleigh Manor Middle School was honored for having 95.8 percent of its pupils reading at least at a proficient level and 93.4 percent at a proficient level or higher in math.

"It's a combination of having extremely hard-working students, an excellent teaching staff and a dedicated community all working together," said Principal Steve Gibson. "It's huge. It's a great affirmation to the work going on on a daily basis in the school."

River Hill recorded the state's top scores on the High School Assessment tests, with 92.7 percent of students passing English and 97.7 percent passing math.

"I think it is quite an honor," said William Ryan, River Hill's principal. "There are a lot of great schools around the state."

This was the first year that high schools were named No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon Schools in Maryland because assessment test data for high schools were not available to analyze earlier, state officials said.

"I talk to our kids about being the pre-eminent school in the state," Ryan said. "To be recognized first is special for us."

Ryan attributed River Hill's success to test preparation. Teachers begin to prep students with quizzes and mock examinations leading to the HSAs, a strategy that has been adopted by other Howard schools. The school also keeps parents informed of the preparation through letters, he said.

"Our theme is making learning personal," Ryan said. "We are successful, but at the end we want to know how to do things better."

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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