Spring-Ford Area School District's 8th Grade Center was recognized with a very special award this month - a National Blue Ribbon School award from the U.S. Department of Education.
The National Blue Ribbon award is given to very few schools. The 8th Grade Center is one of only 8 schools in Pennsylvania and 219 public schools nationwide this year to be recognized.
Spring-Ford's 8th Grade Center has steadily improved in the last several years. From 2005-2007, the school was below Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards. Since then, with a lot of work from the administration, staff, and students, the school has made AYP each year.
Principal Michael Siggins said that the school never envisioned pursuing the award.
"The state Department of Education called and asked if we'd like to be put on the very long list of nominees," Siggins said. "In January, we got a call from the federal government, that we were one of 13 schools in the state selected."
After being nominated, there was a long and involved application process that culminated in waiting for the school's AYP scores to arrive. Once the scores were in and the school knew they had made AYP, they sent the paperwork in.
The school received a letter from the Secretary of Education just a few weeks ago informing them it had been given the award.
The application, Siggins said, was an opportunity to review how many changes have been made at the 8th Grade Center over the last several years.
"I'm most proud of how our students and parents have bought into [the changes]," Siggins said. "They know we do this because we really care and want them to succeed in high school."
Superintendent Dr. David Goodin had high praise for the school.
In an e-mail, Goodin said:
"The National Blue Ribbon is a tremendous honor and reflects the quality of education students receive here at Spring-Ford. Starting with the leadership of our Board of Direcators, the District has set a course of academic achievement and high expectations for our staff and students. The 8th Grade Center has great leadership under Mr. Siggins and the teaching staff is second to none. This award is truly a reflection on the high quality programs that are in place in grades K-7 where we have some of the highest in the state. We have set a goal of being the educational provider that parents will choose for their children. The National Blue Ribbon affirms that we are on the right track."
The Spring-Ford School Board is planning a ceremony at home sometime in November, after the award is officially bestowed at a banquet in Washington D.C.
At Monday night's board meeting, board president Thomas DiBello and vice president Joseph Ciresi also had words of praise.
"It's a big accomplishment for both the school and the community," DiBello said. "I think that this board has been focused on raising the bar of excellence within the district, and as you can see from our results, we're definitely making that achievement."
"It puts Spring-Ford where we're supposed to be, a shining star in Montgomery County," Ciresi said. "It's a great opportunity for us to shine and keep moving forward."