(On November 7, the U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, will celebrate with the National Blue Ribbon honorees at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. Dr. Margaret Dames, Superintendent of Schools, as well as principals and other representatives from the 2017 Archdiocesan Blue Ribbon schools, will attend the event. Media outlets interested in speaking with school representatives should contact Jonathan Azzara in the Office of Communications & Public Relations, at 973-497-4193 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
On Thursday, September 28, 2017, the U.S. Department of Education recognized 342 schools across the United States as National Blue Ribbon Schools based on their academic excellence, or their progress in closing achievement gaps. Of the 342 schools that received the award, 17 are located in New Jersey, and five are Catholic schools within the Archdiocese of Newark. With the addition of these new schools, 35 percent of all Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese are now Blue Ribbon Schools.
The Blue Ribbon designation is reserved for select schools whose students have scored in the top 15 percent of all students in the nation (among both public and non-public schools) on standardized tests. Since 2011, 23 Archdiocesan Catholic schools have received the prestigious award.
The following schools in the Archdiocese earned the National Blue Ribbon award in 2017:
- St. Peter Academy (River Edge)
- Our Lady of the Lake School (Verona)
- All Saints Catholic Academy (Bayonne)
- Hoboken Catholic Academy (Hoboken)
- The Academy of Our Lady of Peace (New Providence)
Sr. Rita Marie Fritzen, the Principal of All Saints Catholic Academy in Bayonne, credits an incredible teaching staff, and hard working student body for the Academy’s first ever Blue Ribbon award. “We at All Saints Catholic Academy are truly honored to receive the highest educational distinction from the United States Department of Education. We join an elite number of schools which have valued hard work, visionary leadership, and innovation since 1982. We have an outstanding faculty and want to thank our teachers, parents, and the local community at large for their commitment to Catholic education—for without them and their generosity, cooperation and commitment, ASCA would not have achieved such an award,” said Sr. Rita.
Also receiving its first Blue Ribbon award is The Academy of Our Lady of Peace in New Providence. “Successfully achieving national recognition as a Blue Ribbon School of academic excellence is a true honor. This is a testament to the hard work and determination of our students, faculty, administration, and families. This award acknowledges the commitment our school community has made for over 60 years to its student body—supplying Academy students with the Academy Advantage; a private, faith based education which is second to none. It’s a privilege to lead and be part of an educational team which places students first during every milestone of their academic journey,” said Joel Castillo, Principal of The Academy of Our Lady of Peace.
Our Lady of the Lake School in Verona earned its first National Blue Ribbon Award in 2011. This year, it earned its second for Exemplary High Performance. “The students, faculty, and staff of Our Lady of the Lake School are overjoyed with the news of winning our second consecutive National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence,” said Ben Ronquillo, the school’s Principal. “Our Lady of the Lake School continually strives for excellence, and this award is proof that our efforts have been recognized.”
Dr. Margaret Dames, Superintendent of Schools, also credited teachers, staff, and students for the notable achievement. “The Archdiocese is so proud of the efforts and performance of all the students, staff, teachers, principals, pastors, and parents of all our Blue Ribbon Schools. It is a strong partnership that can achieve this tremendous success!” said Dr. Dames. The Catholic schools office also commends Barbara Dolan, the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Planning, for her sustained support and assistance in completing the very comprehensive Blue Ribbon application.
About the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program
The United States Department of Education’s National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has honored and recognized great American public and private elementary, middle, and high schools since 1982. To date, more than 8,500 schools nationally have received the honor.
Parochial and private schools are eligible to apply for Blue Ribbon recognition if they are exemplary high performing schools. "High performing" means that the achievement of the school’s students in the most recent year tested places the school in the top 15 percent in the nation in reading and mathematics as measured by a nationally normed test. For the elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Newark the nationally normed test used to measure student achievement is the TerraNova. The top 15 percent criterion must be met in both reading and math scores for the most recent year tested for all grades (Grades 3 and higher) in which the tests are administered in the school. Schools must have an enrollment of no less than 100 students, and each class tested must have 10 or more students.
Private and parochial schools that meet the criteria for recognition apply through, and must be nominated by, the Council for American Private Education (CAPE). The United States Department of Education invites CAPE to nominate up to 50 schools nationwide each year.
Public schools are nominated by their state’s Chief State School Officer, and must rank among the top 15 schools in the state based on the most recently administered state assessment.
The application process entails the completion of an extensive application. The application includes demographic information and narrative descriptions of various elements of the school’s mission, curriculum, programs, leadership, and community involvement.