The anticipation became reality in November when Hancock was named a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, the first time a Washington County School has received the state award.
Tuesday night, about 75 people gathered at the Washington County Board of Education auditorium to formally honor the school.
Resolutions from the state Senate, the House of Delegates and the Washington County Commissioners were presented to the school.
The school board gave the school a trophy, the Maryland State Board of Education presented an award and the school was given a Blue Ribbon flag to fly over its campus.
"This is a great night if you're from Hancock. We're so proud," said Daniel Murphy, mayor of Hancock and chairman of the school's Citizens Advisory Committee.
Local and state elected officials spent more than an hour honoring the school. A majority of the school's 40 staff members received individual awards.
State Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said the award is an example of the "good things that are always happening in Washington County. We realize it happened through very hard work."
Hancock and 10 other Maryland schools now will compete nationally for the U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon Awards.
Schools that win the award nationally will be recognized this spring at a ceremony attended by President Clinton and Secretary of Education Richard Riley, officials said. Notification of those winners is expected in May.
Hancock Principal Boyd Michael said he believes the school has the potential to win the national award.
Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools are selected on the basis of outstanding leadership, teaching environment, curriculum and instruction, student environment and parent and community support, according to information from the state Board of Education. Winners are selected by a panel of state education and community leaders.
Last year, Hancock had the highest attendance rate among all high schools and middle schools and posted a 2.2 percent dropout rate, which was below the 3 percent satisfactory rate set by the state.
The school had an average verbal test score of 540 in the Scholastic Assessment Test compared to the county average of 500 and the state average of 507. It had an average math test score of 520 in the Scholastic Assessment Test, above the county average of 501 and the state average of 507, according to school records.
"We look at ourselves as an entire learning community at Hancock," said Michael.