Lake County schools score national blue ribbon awards
Eight Lake County schools have won a top blue ribbon award from the U.S. Department of Education.
Federal education officials announced the Nation Blue Ribbon Schools winners Wednesday, with 16 public Illinois elementary, middle, and high schools on the list. Winning Lake County schools were in Lincolnshire, Green Oaks, Deerfield, Buffalo Grove and Long Grove.
Officials said schools are nominated for the award by a state department of education. Nominees then must complete a detailed application about school practices.
Lincolnshire-Prairie View Elementary District 103 was among the several school systems to receive two blue ribbon awards for Half Day School and Daniel Wright Junior High School.
District 103 officials said there is a deep tradition of providing an exemplary learning environment for the third- and fourth-graders at Half Day, the county's oldest school. The tradition includes a challenging core curriculum now offering world language, with components of instruction in Spanish and culture integrated throughout the school day.
At Daniel Wright, which serves grades five through eight, officials said students deserve credit for an academic culture that typically finds them acting as young leaders by volunteering for service and charitable projects.
Superintendent Scott Warren credited parents and others in the community for helping to make the schools successful.
"We are incredibly proud of our entire learning community on receiving these recognitions for exemplary high performing schools -- among the best in Illinois and the entire country," Warren said.
Excitement abounded when word spread about the blue ribbon for single-building Oak Grove Elementary District 68. Administrators at the Green Oaks school surprised employees Wednesday with blueberry muffins to start the celebration.
Superintendent Lonny Lemon credited current and former students, staff and administrators for the effort.
"They are the ones responsible for this achievement," Lemon said. "Together, they make Oak Grove a wonderful place to learn, work and grow. Our community has good reason to be proud of our school."
Buffalo Grove-based Aptakisic-Tripp Elementary District 102 copped two blue ribbons for Earl Pritchett Elementary School and Tripp Elementary School.
Pritchett Principal Matt Moreland credited the district's emphasis on "close, purposeful" reading for helping improve student test scores. Students are asked to carefully read texts and answer questions about meaning and the author's intent.
Moreland also pointed to improvements in the district's curriculum for playing a role in the blue ribbon recognition.
"It's taking the Illinois learning targets," he said, "and making sure we're addressing that in our instruction, coupled with constant reflection -- 'What do we need to tweak?' and 'What do we need to make it better?'"
Other blue ribbon awards went to Walden Elementary School and Alan B. Shepard Middle School in Deerfield District 109 and Woodlawn Middle School in Long Grove from Buffalo Grove-based Kildeer-Countryside Elementary District 96. It was Woodlawn's second blue ribbon since 2009.
"For me, it's just one of those moments to celebrate what we do on an everyday basis," Principal Greg Grana said.
Grana said it's a testament to the support administrators and staff in the school and district provide to help teachers do their jobs well.
"This is a great staff victory," he said. "It's a district and community victory. In the educational community, this is a big deal. And it feels good."
Education officials said all 16 of Illinois' award-winning buildings received the "Exemplary High Performing Schools" designation.
•Daily Herald staff writers Mick Zawislak and Christopher Placek contributed to this report.