6 Northwest suburban schools get national recognition
By Chad Brooks | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 10/5/2007 1:14 AM
Students and staff at several area schools are boasting this week after being awarded one of the top educational honors in the country.
Six schools in the Northwest suburbs were notified this week that they were one of only 287 nationwide named 2007 No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon School.
The winning schools were Adolph Link Elementary in Elk Grove Village, Grove Avenue Elementary in Barrington,
St. Colette and Willow Bend Elementary schools in Rolling Meadows, River Trails Middle School in Mount Prospect and Twin Grove Middle School in Buffalo Grove.
Grove Avenue School Principal Cindy Kalogeropoulos said the school is getting the award for the second time, but it is just as thrilling as the first.
"I told them (students) about how important it was and that we all worked really hard for it," Kalogeropoulos said.
The No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools award, one of the most prestigious education awards in the country, honors schools for helping students achieve at very high levels and for making significant progress in closing the achievement gap.
Specifically, winners, nominated by the state board of education, are selected based on one of two criteria: schools with at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds that dramatically improve overall student performance to high levels on state tests, or schools whose students, regardless of background, achieve in the top 10 percent of their state on state tests, or -- in the case of private schools -- in the top 10 percent of the nation on nationally normed tests.
St. Colette School was one of seven Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago that received the award.
"It's an affirmation of all the work that you do," Principal Valerie Zemko said. "It makes you feel like you've done what you've set out to do."
Kristine Cohn, acting director of regional services for Region V for the U.S. Department of Education, Thursday visited blue ribbon winner River Trails Middle School.
It's unusual for middle and high schools to win blue ribbons, as primary schools show the most progress, Cohn said.
River Trails' success proves older students can achieve what the federal No Child Left Behind initiative seeks, Cohn said.
Willow Bend School Principal Toni Kappel said everyone at the school is thrilled with the news.
"Quite honestly, the award is a result of efforts from students, staff and parents," she said. "We are still tongue-tied."
Aside from its academic excellence, Link Elementary School also is characterized by the depth and variety of its extracurricular programs, Principal Barbara Schremser said.
The Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 school boasts a television production studio and has offered students an environmentalist club, sign language club and multicultural activities.
"We try to find out what the interests of the students are as well as what the abilities of our staff are and try to mesh the two to produce well-rounded individuals," Schremser said.
The award is extra exciting for Twin Groves Middle School because it is the first Blue Ribbon award for Kildeer Countryside Elementary District 96. Twin Groves and River Trails were two of only three middle schools in Illinois to get the honor.
"The scores for the school have been steadily increasing over the last four or five years," said Betsy Fresen, spokeswoman for the district.
She said the school always has met state standards as a whole, but special education students also have been raising their scores over the years.
"Over 80 percent of special education students now meet or exceed state standards," Fresen said.
All of the winning schools will be recognized at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., in November. Two people from each school -- the principal and a teacher -- will be invited to the ceremony, where the schools will receive a plaque and a flag signifying their Blue Ribbon School status.