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What the Blue Ribbon award means to secondary schools

By JON ANDERSON On Sept. 30, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the 337 schools across the country had been awarded the 2014 National Blue Ribbon for excellent student achievement or exemplary work to close gaps in achievement betw...

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By JON ANDERSON

On Sept. 30, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the 337 schools across the country had been awarded the 2014 National Blue Ribbon for excellent student achievement or exemplary work to close gaps in achievement between student groups. We at Brainerd Public Schools were thrilled when all six of our elementary schools were awarded National Blue Ribbons, three for student achievement (Baxter, Lowell, Nisswa) and three for gap closure (Garfield, Harrison, Riverside).

Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius noted this incredible feat by telling the Star Tribune that "these schools have figured out something special and important: how to move the needle not for just the kids in one school, but for kids in schools across the district." I agree with the commissioner and would like to take this opportunity to share what National Blue Ribbon elementary schools mean for our secondary schools, Forestview and Brainerd High School.

Students arriving at Forestview for fifth grade from our six Brainerd public elementary schools are well prepared for the rigors of the middle school curriculum. Our teachers at all schools and all levels and subjects have worked hard to align curriculum, from

preschool all the way through high school. By doing so, students leaving one grade are prepared to be successful in the next grade. When students come to Forestview Middle School from these award-winning elementary schools, we know they are coming with a firm foundation upon which our middle school teachers can build.

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We all know it is not only the efforts of school staff that propel students to such high levels of achievement; it also takes active, involved parents working in partnership with the schools to mold exemplary students. We, at the secondary level, reap the benefits of the time parents of elementary students spend working with their children to reinforce lessons in the classroom.

These students have learned that education is valued, good study habits are important, schoolwork is a priority and their families care about their academic success. These lessons, born and nurtured in elementary school, blossom into habits of lifelong learning that carry them through their time in middle school, high school and beyond.

Students who have been prepared by an interconnected network of teachers and parents to meet the challenges of secondary schools are immersed in a culture of excellence that they carry with them as they move through our system. The excellence our award-winning elementary schools and parents expect from students prepares them to live the Forestview Way, where we expect every student to "Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Yourself."

The designation of National Blue Ribbons to every elementary school in one district at the same time is a phenomenal accomplishment that our whole community ought to be proud of. We know it takes the work and support of staff, parents, volunteers, and community members to provide our students with experiences and opportunities that will set them on the course for success.

JON ANDERSON is principal of Forestview Middle School.

Related Topics: FORESTVIEW MIDDLE SCHOOL
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