Six local schools have been named National Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education.
The schools that claimed the department’s top prize are: Loomis Elementary, Marple Newtown School District, Broomall; Rhawnhurst Elementary, Philadelphia School District; Mother of Providence Regional Catholic School, Wallingford; St. Katharine of Siena Catholic School, Wayne; St. Patrick Catholic School, Malvern; and Waldron Mercy Academy, Merion.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the winners Thursday.
“It’s a privilege to recognize the extraordinary work you do to meet students' needs and prepare them for successful careers and meaningful lives," DeVos said in a statement.
In total, 367 schools from across the country — less than 1% of all schools nationwide — were honored. Schools, which must complete an extensive application to be considered, win either based on standardized test performance or on efforts to close achievement gaps between students.
Last year, 12 local schools, 10 in Pennsylvania and two in New Jersey, won the honor. No South Jersey schools were recognized this year.
In Philadelphia, officials were elated at Rhawnhurst’s win. The school educates 600-plus students in Northeast Philadelphia. Its students are a diverse group, speaking 27 languages.
“This is a wonderful honor, and we have so much to be proud of during this moment. I am encouraged when I see how impactful we are in our own school community,” Joy Kingwood, the Rhawnhurst principal, said in a statement. “Our students need us, our parents depend on us and society progresses as a result of our fearless educators.”
Andrew McLaughlin, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s secretary for elementary education, said in a statement that the recognition earned by the three archdiocesan schools (Mother of Providence, St. Katharine, St. Patrick) is especially meaningful against the backdrop of COVID-19.
“The fact that each of these schools has been recognized for academic excellence, during an extraordinarily challenging time in our world, speaks volumes to the dedication of all those working within our Catholic schools each and every day to maintain high educational standards despite societal obstacles,” McLaughlin said.
Schools can win once every five years. St. Patrick previously won in 2013.