Great American Schools: 2012 National Blue Ribbon Winners

Secretary Duncan thanks Arlington Traditional 5th grade student Paul Velasco for his gracious introduction. Official Department of Education photo by Paul Wood.

“Great schools don’t happen by chance. Great schools happen by design,” Secretary Arne Duncan said earlier today as he recognized the 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools from the campus of Arlington Traditional Elementary School in Arlington, Va. Arlington Traditional is one of 269 schools selected this year—out of the more than 100,000 schools in the U.S.—to receive this accolade from the U.S. Department of Education. Secretary Duncan was joined at the announcement by U.S. Congressman Jim Moran (D-Va.) and Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy.

Secretary Duncan visits students

Secretary Duncan stayed after the announcement visit classrooms and talk with students. Official Department of Education photo by Paul Wood.

“The National Blue Ribbon Schools are the best of what our country has to offer,” Secretary Duncan told the assembled students, parents, teachers, and dignitaries. “They are models for schools across the country.”

Arlington Traditional Principal Holly Hawthorne noted that the school’s focus on academics, behavior, and character is the foundation of its success. “Behavior and dress standards help create a safe and inviting learning environment, and strong partnerships with families and the community foster each child’s whole development,” Hawthorne said. “Our students leave Arlington Traditional School as lifelong learners and future caring and contributing citizens.”

The 269 schools recognized this year represent 40 states, the District of Colombia and the Department of Defense Education Activity. National Blue Ribbon Schools are the “best in their class,” public and private elementary and secondary schools that produce outstanding results for all students. While all National Blue Ribbon schools have one thing in common–high or improving academic achievement –each great school has an inspiring story to tell about excellence in teaching and learning.

Read the list of this year’s winners.

Aba Kumi is director of the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program


  1. As a staff member Of Fox Tech High School in the Pride of Downtown San Antonio I would like to congratulate the students, staff, and faculty for a job well done. I am also an alumni of this High School and I am proud to say that I am part of this great accomplishment. This school has alot of history and our student’s are the pride of SAISD. Thank you to all that contributed in making this a success for our school.

  2. As the very proud parent of a Clover Avenue Elementary school 2nd-grader (and a former Clover Ave student myself, 30+ years ago!) I am THRILLED that Clover has been selected for Blue Ribbon recognition this year–the ONLY LAUSD school to be included on the list (somewhat sadly). We could not have achieved this honor without the tireless efforts and dedication of our wonderful principal Ms. Sharon Fabian, the absolutely incredible work of our TEACHERS (the best, simply the best), the profound commitment of our Clover families (many of whom are international UCLA students and post-docs and as a result only attend Clover for 2-3 years, but nevertheless show a great commitment to the school during their time here), and most of all our amazing students, who work so hard and show such love and respect for their school, their teachers, their education–and each other. Over the moon with Blue Ribbon pride. Thank you Arne Duncan and US Dept of Education. Now PLEASE help us to maintain this level of excellence by NOT SLASHING OUR BUDGET and providing adequate funding for education in Los Angeles and everywhere in the US!!

  3. This is truly an amazing honor for my students and teachers. They have worked so hard to improve our PSSA scores (PA) and the teaching and learning that takes place everyday. We are extremely excited and looking forward to not only the award ceremony in Washington DC, but also the celebration to follow later during American Education Week back at school. More than anything this award speaks to the total commitment of the teachers, students, parents, and the community – it is an award that everyone is extremely delighted to be receiving.

  4. Pass Christian Middle School is proud to be honored as a Blue Ribbon school! The students, staff, and community express daily the belief that all children can rise to high achievement and work to realize that goal. There are no secrets to hard work and total committment to the future of every student. I count it a privilege to share in this adventure as a teacher in Pass Middle, as we fondly refer to it. No one person or group can lay claim to this success. It belongs to everyone. I salute each and every person.

  5. Our school is very proud to be included in the 2012 list of remarkable Blue Ribbon schools. As the Superintendent, I have been excited to accept the congratulations of parents, alumni, alumni parents and community friends. We have heard from administrators around the country and certainly appreciate the encouragement.

    I believe that this award will accentuate the ongoing efforts the broad school community makes towards excellence.

    We are proud of the students and their achievements. We are very pleased with the professionalism of our staff and faculty. We deeply appreciate the support from our parents.

    I expect that this auspicious award will catch the eye of prospective parents and new staff. It will help the school with its academic growth and future enrollment.
    We are grateful to be a Blue Ribbon School!

  6. Congrats to all the Blue Ribbon winners. When I announced the wonderful news on the PA system, the entire PEARLS school erupted in cheers and applause. The celebration is ongoing. Our lobby is decorated with blue and white streamers, blue and white balloons and the music keeps playing – Celebration time” and “We are the champions.” Additionally, the local News 12 has aired our recognition seval times and just yesterday, the Mayor, the Superintendent and the School Board of Trustees honored our School with two specail awards which are displayed in the Main Office. This recognition is evidence of a collaborative effort between administration, teachers, parents and students. We serve as a model and inspiration for other schools in our district as well as in the surrounding areas. Finally, academics is paramount but we also stress character development and citizenship. I am humbled but extremely proud of our accomplishment. I am looking forward to seeing everyone in November.

  7. As the principal of Hilltop Primary School in Minnetrista, Minnesota, we are thrilled and honored to be a Blue Ribbon School. Our whole community is very excited about this award. We announced it to the entire student and staff body during an assembly on Friday, September 14th and the excitement was overpowering!

    I am so fortunate to have a wonderful student population, staff and community that truly supports education and our mission! A huge thank you to our wonderful Westonka Community for everything that they do to support the children’s education.

    A special thank you to Secretary Duncan and his staff for all of their hard work and dedication for education of our students in the United States! We appreciate you!

  8. As a student here at Yorktown High School in Indiana, it is a real honor to be able to put a blue ribbon school to my resume, however right now I don’t feel like my shcool has trully earned it. There has been a few fights going inside the school the past few years leading up to this award. In my opinion, this award should go deeper then just looking at stauts and records. This award should also go inside the school to see how desiplined the students are and making sure that the school doesn’t have to worry about fights all the time.
    Again, I am happy that my school is one of the many schools to recieve this honor.
    Go Yorktown Class of 2013.

  9. I’d like to extend our congratulations from Mitchellville, Iowa to all of the 2012 Blue Ribbon Winners. This is a tremendous honor that recognizes everything that’s
    “right” with Education in America. Our building celebrated with an ice cream social hosted by our Superintendent and his wife on the day after the announcement. We all agree that our best days are still ahead!


  10. As the proud principal of Simpson Elementary School in Peachtree Corners, Georgia, we are thrilled to join an elite group of schools of nationally-acclaimed excellence!
    What an honor! We are planning a special event this fall to celebrate. What a wonderful opportunity to celebrate this tremendously dedicated staff (our sparkling jewels!), fantastic students and supportive parents and community! Washington, here we come!

  11. Congratulations to all of the 2012 Blue Ribbon schools. What an exciting week we have had! Every day last week we had special events for the students and teachers. The excitement in our community has been great. This award is a tremendous affirmation of the efforts of everyone in our school. I am so proud, humbled and even more committed than ever to continuing to be a school of excellence.

  12. As the lead learner (and principal) of Cantiague Elementary School in Jericho, NY, I know I speak for our whole community when I say we are thrilled and honored to be named a 2012 National Blue Ribbon School! Our community is a special one in that we all work together with one common goal — to do what is best for our children! When we announced our Blue Ribbon on September 7th, our school building erupted in cheers — everyone was elated and a sense of pride quickly permeated the building. The entire community, and beyond, has showered us with congratulatory notes, emails and messages! We have already celebrated with a Blue Day where all the staff and kids and parents dressed in blue and our staff celebrated with a Blue Ribbon Breakfast the other day, which was a wonderful experience! It is clear to me, as I start my fifth year as principal of Cantiague Elementary, that the reason we earned this honor is because we have Blue Ribbon Students and a Blue Ribbon Staff – BRAVO!

  13. Each school that has been named a 2012 National Blue Ribbon School has a story to tell. We honor each school and each story. We may serve different demographics and we certainly each have our own challenges but we are all serving our children and working to provide them with the best possible education that we can. It is our shared goal that all our children may face the future with confidence and trust. Congratulations to each 2012 Blue Ribbon School.

  14. A school doesn’t receive the honor of being named a National Blue Ribbon School without dedicated teachers and staff, caring parents and students who work hard to succeed. We are fortunate to have all of these pieces fitting together at Slavens K-8 School in a way that has allowed us to be a high performing school. As only the second school from Denver Public Schools to receive this award, we are extremely honored and grateful to be recognized in this way and look forward to seeing other DPS schools recognized in the future. Congratulations to all of the Blue Ribbon Schools this year. Keep up the good work!

  15. Congratulations to all!!

    At Sanfordville ES in Warwick, NY, we initially celebrated the acclaim by having our 700+ students and faculty join hands around our school building as a Blue Ribbon (1800 yards long) was wrapped around our entire building. What a sight!

    Today, September 14th, every student, and member of the faculty and staff, will place a namesake Blue Ribbon on our fence that runs adjacent to Sanfordville Road.
    The total effect will be a Blue Ribbon Wall.

    Specific activities for our teachers are forthcoming.

    Everyone, enjoy the moment.

    See you in Washington D.C.

    Also, a special “shoutout” to Dawn Thompson our New York State Liaison

  16. The Nash Middle School students’ and staff’s theme for last year was “The Best Year Ever” as inspired by the movie Tangled. In fact, the students and staff at Nash Middle School truly did have a great year as they were honored with the National Blue Ribbon School of 2012. In honor of earning the award, a school wide student picture was organized on September 11th. Each grade level of 5th through 8th grade represented a letter from the word NASH. These pictures will be available for purchasing through the school.
    This year the theme is “Game On” as inspired by the Summer Olympics. Just like the athletes must do, the students and staff need to bring their best game to each and every performance. There are many ways the staff and students can measure their success but one way is through the ISAT state testing system. The next challenge is for 100% of the students at any grade level to meet or exceed in reading or math. The class or classes that are able to achieve this goal will be conducting a repeat performance picture in the configuration of “100%”. Believe it and you can achieve it……it’s “Game On” this year at Nash Middle School!

  17. Being recognized as a 2012 National Blue Ribbon School has been a true honor. We announced it to our student body and families at our Opening of School Mass on Sept. 7. The children and adults stood and cheered as two of our 8th grade students unrolled a Blue Ribbon banner. Photographers from our Archdiocese of Washington, DC newspaper and our local county paper attended the Mass and took many pictures of the celebration. We returned to school where some of our staff had been at work putting blue balloons on every classroom door, the 2012 crest on every door, paper blue ribbons all around the school, and they had changed the message on our outdoor message board to announce us as a 2012 Blue Ribbon School! We have received so many wonderful congratulatory messages, cards, flowers, and goodies for the staff! It is truly a team award for our dedicated teachers, hard-working students, supportive families, and our great pastors of our 3 supportive parishes. I’m so proud to be the principal of Father Andrew White, S.J. School in Leonardtown, MD!!

  18. I am thrilled for my campus to be named a Blue Ribbon School!!! My staff work diligently for the success of every student and I am so pleased that their effort has gained them recognition! It is such an honor to work with such a dedicated team doing the most important job ever…education! I look forward to meeting you all at the award ceremony! Congratulations!!

  19. Doudna Elementary of Richland Center, WI is proud to be among the Blue Ribbon honored schools this year. We are a small rural district west of Madison, WI. Our growth in student achievement is primarily linked to a dedicated and positive teaching staff. They seek out and take advantage of professional development opportunities. We have a staff that supports each other, and unselfishly shares and sacrifices for the overall success of the school. Many thanks and congrats to the PEOPLE at Doudna for earning this award.

  20. Congratulations to all of the 2012 National Blue Ribbion Schools. Lindbergh High School students, staff and community are very excited and we looking forward to celebrating this accomplishment.

  21. Westwood High School (Mass.) is thrilled to join such distinguished company! It’s an extraordinary achievement that speaks to our students’ dedication, our faculty and staff’s expertise and commitment, and our families’ support of education. We are honored and humbled to be named a Blue Ribbon school.

  22. On behalf of the Burton Street Staff congratulations to all of the Blue Ribbon Schools. Burton Street is an elementary public school the village of Cazenovia in Central NY. It is an honor for our school to receive this recognition. The Blue Ribbon is a reflection of the efforts of the entire staff in their continuous work to not only accelerate student achievement but enhance the lives of our students. Our students not only work on their academics but to build positive character focusing on the traits of pride, respect, responsibility, caring and honesty. Our staff “catch” our students displaying those traits as we all work to “ride the blue wave” of good character at Burton Street…home of the little blue waves!!!

  23. Congratulations to all 2012 Blue Ribbon Schools! At Barker Road Middle School, in Pittsford, N.Y., we are proud to join such a distinguished group and we look forward to continuing our efforts to improve teaching and learning so each student can reach his or her potential!

  24. Congratulations to all Blue Ribbon Schools! As with you all, the Garnet Mesa Elementary staff, students, and community have worked incredibly hard to get to this point, and we committed to continuing our improvement. And while our achievement gains have been significant, equally important are the positive relationships we build with students and the safe environment our staff has created. We wish you all continued success.

  25. As the proud principal of Enchanted Lake Elementary School, located in Kailua, a suburb of Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, in the state of Hawaii our wish to share a glimpse of what our neighborhood school is like. Our school is surrounded by the tropical hillside of Koolauloa (long Koolau) to the north and Koolaupoko (short Koolau) mountains to the east. Mighty Olomana (good spirit) mountain stands majestically over our school. On a beautiful sunny day with shimmering rainfall we are kissed by two double rainbows that arch over Enchanted Lake Playground. We are so fortunate.
    Our complex area superintendent, Mrs. Suzanne Mulcahy is a very supportive leader that provides funding and personnel resources to assist our school in fulfilling our
    school’s mission of “ensuring learning at a high level for every student.” The professional development cycle of learning is critical to our school’s success as a high achieving school. Our teachers are actively engaged in professional learning communities and meet weekly to collaborate on estabishing essential questions that are research inquiry based along with Hawaii Content and Performance and Common Core Standards driven. Each week our teachers access Data Student Information (DSI) a system wide assessment bank to assess each standard, implement intervention and enrichment activities, and celebrate their classroom successes. Mrs. Mulcahy, our complex area supeintendent has allowed our schools the opportunity to visit each others’ schools in our complex to focus on our classroom teaching and learning with active conversations and to practice our teaching craft. At our school, we visit each others classroom and afford each other appropriate feedback like “How do you think that lesson went?” “How do you know the children are learning?” “If the children are not learning, what can I do so my students will learn?” We ask and answer these questions profoundly, sincerely, and deeply, keeping in mind that I have this one opportunity with this child. Only one time in this child’s life will they be in my grade 3 classroom and I as their teacher must ensure this child that they are learning and they can achieve school success. This is what every child deserves. This is what education in our school and in our complex means. This is this child’s moment, not to be taken lightly or squandered. This is their time and opportunity and we are the instrument to make this all happen to fulfill their hopes and dreams.

  26. Congratulations to all the recipients of the National Blue Ribbon Award. The teachers and students at MacArthur Elementary School are extremely humbled and proud to have received this recognition. It has been a long journey to achieve the success that we have and that was only accomplished through a team effort. Our celebration’s focus is all on the students. We will have a year long celebration starting with a Burger Bash in September, family sundae party, Blue Ribbon spirit wear,and an “official” ceremony in November once we return from Washington D.C.,etc.

  27. The success at Marshall Elementary in Eureka, KS has everything to do with hard work and dedication by a staff that strives to do what is best for students. Marshall is a rural public school in Kansas that has seen the at-risk population rise from 48% to near 70% in just a few years. In spite of that increase in at-risk students, our scores on Kansas Assessments have risen 20 – 25% to equal the highest performing schools in Kansas. Success is not something given, it is earned, and our teachers and staff work hard to give each child the opportunity to have the basic skills to be successful. On recent assessments, our at-risk population outscored our general population in both reading and math. I am honored to be the principal in a building with teachers and staff members that are truly second to none, where they care about the individual needs of each child, and where they truly enjoy working with children. We are excited to be recognized by the State of Kansas and the United States Department of Education with the Blue Ribbon Award and want to congratulate all of the schools that have received this award. Thank you for all you do for our children.

  28. Hope Elementary School in Maine is among the honored schools, and rightfully so. As a small (176 students) rural school in Mid Coast Maine, Hope provides a quality educational program for all students. The focus is on clear standards and providing whatever level of support is necessary to assist all students in demonstrating proficiency. But this quality goes beyond test scores. Hope School is a safe, inviting place for all students and adults. The mutual respect is evident throughout the school. Students love coming to school, and teachers love teaching here. It has been the greatest pleasure in my career to have been the Principal here for 12 years.

  29. I’m the communications director at Seneca Valley School District, where our Seneca Valley Middle School was just named a 2012 National Blue Ribbon recipient. The excitement and comments were are receiving from our public have been overwhelmingly supportive and congratulatory. I’ve been to several events since Friday’s announcement and I’ve been stopped by many to share their well wishes with our staff.
    We are a public school just north of Pittsburgh and the years of hard work and dedication by the students, staff, parents and volunteers at SVMS were realized when we were notified of this prestigious honor. What a wonderful way to let others know that the academic process in Seneca Valley is successful. It is also a perfect example of how public education can – and does – work!

  30. Our theme for this year is “When You Believe!” As a National Blue Ribbon School, we believe that this type of pivotal recognition deserves the highest honor of schools that exhibit consistent student growth. We know that effective teaching and student learning is ongoing but to pause to be recognized at this level in Washington, D.C. is significant. With our high poverty population, this prestigious recognition signifies that socioeconomic isn’t the major factor that contributes to student learning; however, through the dedication and commitment of parents, students, teachers, and strong instructional leadership anything is obtainable. South Kilbourne is dressed in “Blue” as we celebrate our academic success with the nation.

  31. Winning a National Blue Ribbon at McKinley has been an incredible experience for our staff and students. We have worked incredibly hard over the last 5 years to close the achievement gap; accelerate achievement for all students, and achieve the status of a Blue Ribbon school of excellence.

    A huge SHOUT-OUT to McKinley Tech’s staff, students, parents and community: Thank you for your relentless pursuit of high performance and your willingness to try “out of the box” approaches to teaching and learning. Your leadership has served as a model for all schools!

    A huge SHOUT-OUT to Secretary Duncan- Your leadership and unique approach to challenging American schools to compete and innovate has motivated all of us to reach higher and demand more of ourselves as we bring American schools back to the forefront of education in the world! Schools and districts are trying new approaches to the art and science of teaching because you’re encouraging us to take risks! 🙂

  32. We at Jamesville Middle School are humbled and honored to be a part of this year’s group of Blue Ribbon Schools. It is an affirmation of the work we strive to do every minute at JMS. In response to some of the comments, JMS is neither, private, parochial, nor do we have stringent admissions. We are a small, rural. public middle school in eastern North Carolina. We include and welcome all students who desire to attend our school. This award, as stated, is an affirmation but, more importantly, is a challenge to continue to grow and provide excellence everyday for every student. It is a challenge we welcome because it will, in the end, provide our students with a great education.

  33. It’s been a very amazing and humbling honor! We look forward to the celebration , but we also look forward to continuing the hard work to meet the needs of the students.

  34. Although there may be private or exclusive schools on the list, the elementary school in my district — noted for performance — is a typical neighborhood public school. It has the second highest rate of poverty in the district, and is ethnically diverse. However, there is virtually no achievement gap.

    The results come from a decision by principal and staff to use instructional time a little differently, and it worked very well.

  35. Thank you Deb for your response. The Blue Ribbon School in South Bend, Lasalle Academy, is very selective. It is easy to be a Blue Ribbon School when the upper 1% in the community gives you their undivided attention, they make sure, no expense is spared. Also the school board of South Bend establishes a policy for the so-called High ability student to re-establish segregation in our school system.

  36. Parochial schools differ from some private schools in that they are more inclusive. In our Catholic Diocese there is a scholarship fund that provides for students in all schools that are identified as in need of financial assistance. Most parishes/schools also give additional assistance along with individuals who sponsor children in our schools. Catholic schools are welcoming to Hispanic students and make the effort to overcome any language barrier. Catholic schools educate all children because thery are Catholc institutuins, and not because the childen are Catholic.

  37. In reviewing the list of Blue Ribbon schools in my state, the characterization of these schools as being “great by design” as noted by Secretary Duncan sends the wrong message. The design of most is a design of exclusion. Included on the list are parochial schools where the ability to pay tuition (or athletic ability) determines access and where students with learning or behavior challenges, who can pay,are either counseled out (told we can’t help you here) or expelled. Others on the list have selective enrollment and retention process where students must be achieving at high levels in order to gain admission. I congratulate those schools who are truly great, where their design is one that includes ALL and where ALL students are welcomed and challenged to high achievement.

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