By Jeff Gallatin
All the North Olmsted Eagles at Butternut Primary School and throughout the city were flying high Friday as they heard the news that the school was selected as one of 269 schools nationwide to be a 2012 National Blue Ribbon School.
“Everybody’s pretty excited about this,” Butternut Principal Chris Caleris said Friday morning. “I got to tell some parents at a PTA event last night after I had just heard about it. And I told staff members and students today, and everybody is really honored and proud about it. One of the great things is that they heard about it and then went right back to doing the kind of activities which led to this type of award.”
Butternut is one of only 17 Ohio schools selected for the award, which honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools across the United States where students perform at high levels, or where significant improvements are being made in students’ levels of achievement. Butternut was recognized for its achievement in the exemplary high-performing category in which schools are recognized among their state’s highest performing schools, as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.
As part of the award, Caleris and a teacher will go to Washington, D.C., Nov. 13 and 14 for a special ceremony at which they will receive a special plaque and flag on behalf of the school and the district.
In making the announcement about the schools on the list, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “Schools honored with the National Blue Ribbon Award are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers. Their work reflects the conviction that every child has promise, and that education is the surest pathway to a strong, secure future.”
Caleris said he also sent a letter home Friday with students about the achievement to let all their families know about the award.
“It’s something that everybody contributed to and I think past and present people in the district contributed to, like (former Superintendent) Cheryl Dubsky,” he said. “The staff always works to make sure that every student has a great educational experience. We have a great, active PTA and parents who are involved and certainly a part of our process. And this just shows what I’ve always said, that we have great kids at the school and in North Olmsted. They work hard and really care about what they’re doing as well.”
Caleris said in addition to the national ceremony, there will be some type of event at the school as well for students, staff, families and community to note the award.
“We really haven’t had a lot of time to consider it, but we’ll do something to mark it,” he said.
Terry Krivak, interim superintendent for the district, also was pleased.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” he said. “Whenever you see an award like this, it always starts with the students and what they do to achieve it. We’re also fortunate to have a staff and teachers which implement the educational programs to help achieve it. And of course, the parents and community also have played a strong role in getting an award like this.”
Krivak, who also had a Blue Ribbon School in his district when he served as superintendent of Berea City Schools, said an award like this speaks well of a community and its school district.
“It’s worth noting that North Olmsted had one before with Pine School in 1991,” he said. “It’s appropriate that an all-American-type community like North Olmsted had awards like this in its school district. It shows there is support for the schools and education in a community.”
School board President Tom Herbster was pleased.
“Everybody’s very excited,” he said. “As always, the students have worked their butts off and it shows in an award like this. The staff has also worked very hard, and to get an award like this is just great, particularly when you consider the makeup of the school and the circumstances of some of the families. This is a tribute to the hard work of all of them and the support of the community.”