BY TIM BULLARD
MYRTLE BEACH — St. Andrew School had a pleasant surprise Sept. 23 when it was named a 2005 Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. Principal Molly Halasz could not be more proud of her staff and students.
“We were notified last Friday morning,” Halasz told The Catholic Miscellany in an interview. “We got a call from Washington, D.C., from the U.S. Department of Education. They called everyone that same morning. There are a total of 295 schools nationwide who won the award.”
Word spread about the award that day, according to the principal.
“We were just so excited and so honored,” she said. “It is really a big deal to be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. We announced it right away. We had quite an excited afternoon. The whole school is full of blue ribbons.”
Only two people can go to the awards ceremony in November, and Halasz and librarian Cheryl Sedota will have the honor. The school has 225 students and 18 teachers.
“I would take my whole staff if I could,” Halasz said.
In order to be eligible, schools must either demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement or produce national standardized testing scores in the top 10 percent. Over the past five years St. Andrew students’ scores have consistently been within the top 10 percent on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills.
Having met the testing requirements, the faculty and staff of the school collaborated to complete the rigorous application process representing a thorough self-evaluation.
The Council of American Private Education (CAPE) nominated St. Andrew School for the award.
When evaluating schools for overall quality, the U.S. Department of Education looks for challenging standards and curriculum, evidence of excellent teaching strategies, on-going professional development of the staff, wide-based family and community support that contributes to school quality, and high or improving student performance on measures of achievement.
Halasz and Sedota will go to Washington to the awards ceremony on Nov. 9.
“We will receive our award and banner at that time and will proudly bring it back to our school,” Halasz said.
“Being recognized as one of the finest schools in the nation is a wonderful honor for our school,” said the principal. “I am so proud of our teachers who challenge and excite our students daily. This award is a testament to their dedication and love of teaching.”