South Side High School was among 349 schools nationwide and 20 in the state to be named a National Blue Ribbon School last week by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
Schools must be invited to apply, noted Rockville Centre Schools Superintendent Dr. William Johnson, and the federal government then rigorously reviews the application. The recognition is based on the school’s standards and overall academic performance, he said, as well as its progress in closing achievement gaps among different groups, like minorities and special education students.
“It speaks volumes about the idea of what we consider to be all means all,” Johnson said. “That is the focal point of what we try to accomplish.”
The coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools award affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content. In its 36th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has recognized more than 8,800 schools.
“I’m pleased to celebrate with you as your school is named a National Blue Ribbon School,” DeVos said in a video message to the honorees. “We recognize and honor your important work in preparing students for successful careers and meaningful lives. Congratulations on your students’ accomplishments and for your extraordinary commitment to meeting their unique needs.”
On November 7 and 8, DeVos and the Department of Education will celebrate with the honorees at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.
“It confirms that which I knew about the students and the staff,” South Side Principal John Murphy said, adding that the school last received the honor in 1997. “We’re a world-class institution…and it’s nice to see the holistic approach to learning recognized.”