LJHS earns Blue Ribbon Award
By LPR Staff
For several years, Lockhart Junior High School has been working to distinguish itself as one of the finest schools in Central Texas. This week, LJHS earned its stripes as one of the top schools in the state and, arguably, in the nation.
The United States Department of Education announced on Tuesday that LJHS has been nam
ed a Blue Ribbon School for 2007.
“Needless to say, we’re as thrilled as we can be,” LJHS Principal Susan Brooks said. Though she has been acting Short-Term Interim Superintendent for the last few months, Brooks returned to her campus last week, just in time for the announcement. “Our teachers and kids have worked so hard for this, and you should have heard the hallways when we announced it. Even the sixth graders, who haven’t been here for the process, were delighted.”
Blue Ribbon status is widely considered to be the top honor an American school can earn.
Under Federal No Child Left Behind guidelines, top-performing schools are nominated for Blue Ribbon awards for serving underprivileged student populations with excellence. Schools must meet one of two criteria – either realizing significant improvement in state-mandated testing scores for economically disadvantaged students or being among the top 10 percent of scoring criterion in state-mandated scoring. Additionally, at least 40 percent of the schools nominated by each state’s Secretary of Education must be labeled “economically disadvantaged.”
“This is not a popularity contest,” Brooks said. “It’s a real ‘where-the-rubber-meets-the-road’ kind of rating. It proves that our students are learning and that our teachers are teaching them.”
Next month Brooks, along with one teacher from LJHS, will be invited to the national awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.
“Speaking not only for myself, but I’m sure for the board, we are all just delighted with this announcement,” LISD Trustee Clint Mohle said on Tuesday afternoon. “This is a real team effort, and we’re excited because our kids are succeeding and our teachers are teaching them.”
Of the nearly 133,000 schools eligible for the award each year, only 413 were nominated as Blue Ribbon Schools this year, Mohle said. Of those, 287 made the grade, 23 in Texas. Of those chosen, most were elementary campuses, except for two high schools and two junior high schools.
“In a lot of ways, it’s easier for an elementary campus to become a Blue Ribbon School,” Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Janie Wright said. “Their challenges are a little bit different. It’s much, much harder for a junior high or high school campus to meet their challenges over the three-year evaluation period and rise to this level.”
Although Brooks has personally been involved with other Blue Ribbon campuses, this is the first time a school in LISD has earned such an honor.