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School earns blue ribbon

November 15, 2000

School earns blue ribbon



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


Smithsburg Elementary School has been named a 2001 Maryland Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, the fourth time a Washington County school has received the honor in four years.

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The distinction is considered among educators to be the highest level of achievement a school can receive on the state level.

"It says a lot about the school," Principal Ronald Ingram said. "We're really excited about the experience."

Hancock Middle-Senior High School, Salem Avenue Elementary School and Clear Spring High School have been named Blue Ribbon schools in the past.

Richele Gift, a second-grade teacher at Smithsburg Elementary, said strong parent and community commitment to learning is something school staff and administrators boast of. She also said the effort played an important role in receiving the accolades.

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"It's a total school here, it's not just teachers and students," Gift said. "I think that's one of the reasons why we were chosen."

Gift also had a hand in writing the 30-page application for the award from the state Department of Education.

To qualify, schools must demonstrate high achievement in student performance measured by assessments and other data-based areas, student-focused instruction, school organization, challenging standards and curriculum, active teaching and learning, parent and community involvement, professional development opportunities and leadership and decision making.

"It's a total team effort to get everything together," said John Festerman, the School Board's director of elementary education.

Ten elementary schools were chosen from among 33 that applied in the state. There are 1,500 elementary schools in the state, Gift said.

"Smithsburg Elementary is considered one of the top 10 elementary schools selected by the state," Festerman said. "They do have community and parent support It's a true honor for the community, staff and administrators of the school."

Festerman credited the school's reading program with adding to its success.

Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett said the school will go on to compete for a national Blue Ribbon title. He thinks they will get it, he said.

Even if they don't win on a national level, it's an honor to be named a state Blue Ribbon school, Festerman said.

"I've very proud of the entire school community," Ingram said. "Everybody in our community is working very hard for success for our students. It speaks well for this community."

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