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Hickory Elementary celebrates award

December 19, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HALFWAY -- Hickory Elementary School was a sea of blue Friday, as students and faculty dressed for a celebration of their success as a National Blue Ribbon School, as recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Throughout the afternoon's celebration assembly, students sat in the form of a giant ribbon, colored various shades of blue by the different sweatshirts, T-shirts and dresses they wore. A banner, plaque and ribbon cut out of white paper and decorated with small blue handprints decorated the stage.

As the school's former principal, Cathy Scuffins, walked into the gymnasium for the assembly, she received resounding applause, cheers and hugs. Scuffins was principal during the school year for which Hickory has been honored.

Parents and grandparents attending the program stood alongside the giant, human blue ribbon.

Rebecca Collinson is the grandmother of 10-year-old Harley Swisher, a fifth-grader at the school.

"He has gone to school here since pre-K," she said. "He's really proud that they've gotten this. I know it's a lot of hard work for the kids and teachers."

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Hickory was one of six Maryland schools -- and one of 329 schools in the country -- to receive the honor.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools program recognizes schools that make significant progress in closing the achievement gap or whose students achieve at very high levels.

Each grade level gave presentations celebrating their blue-ribbon status.

The first grade shared 10 reasons why Hickory is the best school. The reasons included, "All of the teachers help us learn" and "Everything in the school is good."

The second- and fourth-graders presented original cheers.

"Blue ribbon school is very cool. Success, success, we succeeded on the tests," the fourth grade called out.

Carla Newton's son, Daylen, 7, is in the first grade at the school. It's his first year there, but "He was very proud. He's been talking about this for a while," she said.

Scuffins said she never expected the Blue Ribbon honor.

"I had no idea anything like this could happen," she said before posing for a picture with students.

High standards, strategic instruction and working together brought about the school's success, she said.

"Everybody had to have a shared mission, a shared vision," she said.

Scuffins is now principal at Lincolnshire Elementary School. Amy Norris is principal at Hickory.

The fifth-grade helped end Friday's assembly on a cheerful note.

"I say Hickory, you say Huskies," they called to the group, which responded with a loud "Huskies."

"When I say number, you say one," the fifth-grade yelled.

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