MEDINA — Medina’s St. Francis Xavier School is among 305 schools in the country named a 2011 National Blue Ribbon School.
The honor from the U.S. Department of Education is based on St. Francis’ overall academic excellence, according to a statement.
“We really are just beyond excited,” said Sister Sandra Bevec, principal of the Roman Catholic school at 612 E. Washington St. “We held an assembly on Friday to let the students know and they couldn’t have been happier. It was heartwarming to see how happy they were. They really understood what it meant to work hard and to be recognized for all of that hard work. It was great to see.”
Bevec, who has been principal for 21 years at St. Francis, which has kindergarteners through eighth-graders, said becoming a Blue Ribbon School was a goal of hers.
“We’ve been watching the criteria and our test scores intensely for about five years. We would miss it by a point here or a point there,” she said Tuesday. “That’s why we’re so ecstatic … we’ve really worked at this for many years to build our scores to meet the criteria. Once we met the criteria, we submitted the application.”
The honor covers the 2009-10 school year, with the test scores from the spring of 2010, Bevec said. The school applied in September last year.
“We heard in November 2010 that we were still in the running, and again in January 2011, so we knew we were hanging around with the remaining competition,” Bevec said. “We found out that Sept. 15 would be the announcement, and it was definitely exciting all that while.
“It helps to make you realize that you’re meeting expectations and above,” she said. “We had never applied before, so it was a big honor to be chosen. We worked hard as a school and it paid off.”
The award honors elementary, middle and high schools that have dedicated time and energy toward closing the achievement gap or that have students who continually perform on very high levels, the statement said.
Nationwide, 413 schools were nominated for the honor. Those schools were invited by the education secretary to submit an application for possible recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School.
The department will recognize St. Francis at an awards ceremony in November in Washington along with 256 public and 49 private schools. Bevec and Assistant Principal Judy Podrasky will represent St. Francis.
Bevec said she has received a number of calls and letters congratulating the school on its accomplishment.
“I had a call from Brother Peter at the National Catholic Education Association in Washington, D.C. That was a huge honor,” she said. “We are so proud of our school, and the students are so proud.
That displays strength of Catholic education, and education throughout Ohio.”
A list of the 2011 National Blue Ribbon Schools is available at www.ed.gov/national blueribbonschools.
Contact Dani Orr at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.