U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recognized St. James Elementary in Elizabethtown, Ky., as a 2012 National Blue Ribbon School based on its overall academic excellence. The principal of the school is Ursuline Sister Michael Marie Friedman.
St. James was one of 269 schools honored across the country, and one of five private schools recognized in the state of Kentucky. The U.S. Department of Education will honor St. James and the other schools at a recognition ceremony on Nov. 12-13 in Washington, D.C. In its 30-year history, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed this coveted award on nearly 7,000 of America’s schools.
“We are excited!” Sister Michael Marie said. “The Blue Ribbon Award is a validation for us that the strong work ethic instilled in students each day really pays off. It is a good affirmation for the students and families, who have supported Catholic education in this region.
“St. James is a stewardship parish that values Catholic education and its school,” Sister Michael Marie said. “The parishioners’ sacrifices for Catholic education continue each day. The Blue Ribbons on each school building are displayed with pride. Everybody owns a little piece of that Blue Ribbon.”
“Our nation has no greater responsibility than helping all children realize their full potential,” Duncan said on Sept. 7. “Schools honored with the National Blue Ribbon Schools award are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers. Their work reflects the conviction that every child has promise and that education is the surest pathway to a strong, secure future.”
The National Blue Ribbon Schools award honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students perform at very high levels or where significant improvements are being made in students’ levels of achievement.
The program recognizes schools in one of two performance categories. The first category is “Exemplary High Performing,” in which schools are recognized among their state’s highest performing schools, as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests. The second category is “Exemplary Improving,” in which schools that have at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds demonstrate the most progress in improving student achievement levels as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests. St. James was recognized as being an “Exemplary High Performing” school.
To select National Blue Ribbon Schools, the Department requests nominations from the top education official in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and the Bureau of Indian Education. The Council for American Private Education (CAPE) nominates private schools. A total of 417 schools nationwide may be nominated, with allocations determined by the number of K-12 students and schools in each jurisdiction. The Secretary of Education invites nominated schools to submit an application for possible recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School.
Founded in 1870, St. James Elementary is one of 38 elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Louisville serving 420 students in grades PK-8. Next month, the school will be moving to a new school building on Robinbrooke Boulevard in Elizabethtown. Sister Michael Marie, an Ursuline Sister for 47 years, has been principal of St. James since 1990.