6 Md. elementary schools awarded Blue Ribbons

Winners include four in Baltimore area

December 20, 2007|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun reporter

Six of Maryland's more than 700 public elementary schools are state champions and will vie for national recognition of their academic achievements.

State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick notified principals yesterday that their schools, including four in the Baltimore area, had been selected as 2008 Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence and will represent the state in the National Blue Ribbon Schools competition next fall.

"I called back to school from downtown to schedule an important faculty meeting," said Karen Covino, principal of Piney Ridge Elementary in Sykesville, who ordered cake, balloons and sparkling cider for the event.

After the winter break, she plans to take the Blue Ribbon plaque and flag to each classroom and explain its meaning to students, who have consistently performed in the top 5 percent - 98.3 percent in reading and math last year - on Maryland School Assessments.

"For my staff, the students and the parents, this really puts the focus on the really hard work everyone has done," Covino said.

One Baltimore school, Cecil Elementary, on the city's east side, was nominated in a category recognizing economically disadvantaged schools that have shown significant improvement on the tests in the past three years.

"This is not just about top achievers," said Darla Strouse, director of the state's Blue Ribbon program. "It is also about schools that are beating the odds and doing a good job in spite of the obstacles."

Roxanne Forr, principal of Cecil Elementary, credits her staff, parents and students.

"The students are totally excited," Forr said. "They all know a blue ribbon means first place."

With an enrollment of 320, 90 percent of whom are economically disadvantaged, Cecil's fifth grade scored 98.1 percent in math and 84.6 percent in reading.

Cresaptown Elementary in Allegany County and Hickory Elementary in Washington County were recognized for significant improvement on the tests in the past three years.

Along with Piney Ridge Elementary, schools in Anne Arundel and Harford counties were chosen for their achievements as measured on the MSA.

Broadneck Elementary, the 12th Anne Arundel County school to win the honor, has, in Alison Lee, a principal who has guided two other schools to Blue Ribbon status, Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell said.

"This is another recognition of the excellent work of our teachers, students and supportive parents," Maxwell said.

The school has benefited from parent volunteers, who contributed 12,000 hours last year, and a staff that is committed to professional development, Lee said.

"You know the saying `It takes a village.' ... We're the Bees, so we say it takes a hive," Lee said. "We have so many people who support what we do. That's what makes us successful."

Gail Connolly, principal of Hickory Elementary in northern Harford County, said the staff will be hanging blue ribbons on the school's fence and throwing a pizza party for students after the holidays.

"This is a huge validation for all the work everyone collectively does daily," Connolly said. "This is a schoolwide effort from the time the children enter kindergarten until they leave as fifth-graders."


Sun reporters Phillip McGowan and Ruma Kumar contributed to this article.

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