City Heights Elementary School in Van Buren was one of two Arkansas schools named a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education this year.
“We recognize and honor your important work in preparing students for successful careers and meaningful lives” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a video message shown to the City Heights’ students and staff Thursday (Sept. 26). “As a National Blue Ribbon School, your school demonstrates what is possible when committed educators hold all students and staff to high standards and create vibrant, innovative cultures of teaching and learning.”
National Blue Ribbon School designations are granted in two performance categories, based on all student scores, student subgroup scores and graduation rates: Exemplary High Performing Schools, which are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by assessment tests; and Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools, which among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s student groups and all students.
City Heights and Sequoyah Elementary School in the Russellville Public School District were recognized as Exemplary High Performing Schools. This is the first school in the Van Buren Public School district to receive the honor.
“We are incredibly proud of our students and staff at City Heights and all they have done to earn this impressive distinction,” said Dr. Harold Jeffcoat, VBPS superintendent. “This is a tremendous honor for not only our district, but for our entire community.”
Principal Mary McCutchen said the national award is confirmation of the years of hard work among students and staff.
“It shows the staff and students what they do matters. We are always telling our students that people are always watching what we do, and what they do matters. This shows them that,” McCutchen said. “I am blessed with a staff who always has their students’ best interest at heart and work hard every day. I’m so excited for them to receive this.”
Now in its 37th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has recognized more than 9,000 schools with the designation. Both public and nonpublic schools are eligible for the award. Honorees will be presented their awards at a ceremony Nov. 14-15 in Washington.