13 suburban schools earn National Blue Ribbon Award
Collaborative teaching, exemplary academic performance, closing achievement gaps, and social-emotional learning support are among the qualities that earned more than a dozen suburban schools a coveted Blue Ribbon from the U.S. Department of Education Thursday.
They are among 25 elementary, middle and high schools in Illinois and 362 schools nationwide to be named 2019 National Blue Ribbon Schools.
Awardees include: Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire; Eastview Elementary School in Algonquin; Hawthorn Elementary School South in Vernon Hills; Ivy Hall Elementary School in Buffalo Grove; Ivy Hill Elementary School in Arlington Heights; Kingsley Elementary School in Naperville; Madison Elementary School in Hinsdale; Maine South High School in Park Ridge; Roslyn Road Elementary School in Barrington; Saint Raymond School in Mount Prospect; Timothy Christian High School in Elmhurst; Wheaton Academy in West Chicago; and William Fremd High School in Palatine.
Schools were selected based on academic performance on standardized tests, progress in closing achievement gaps and graduation rates.
Stevenson High School is the first public high school in Illinois and sixth in the nation to receive five Blue Ribbon Awards -- in 1987, 1991, 1998, 2002 and 2019.
"The fifth Blue Ribbon is an extraordinary accomplishment and underlines our drive to be a professional learning community," District 125 school board President Steven Frost said. "We've long had the motto of 'Success For Every Student,' and this honor affirms the important work that's been taking place in our school since 2002."
Some changes highlighted in the school's Blue Ribbon application include, a deep focus on social and emotional learning, an expansion of academic support services for struggling students, providing special education services in-house, and moving to a later school start time so students can get more sleep and more time to seek academic assistance.
Maine South previously earned a Blue Ribbon in 1989, as did other Maine Township High School District 207 schools: Maine East in 1985 and Maine West in 1991.
"Our students and staff work hard to achieve great ends and we're proud of our accomplishments," Maine South Principal Ben Collins said.
The average Maine South student graduates with nearly one year's worth of college credit earned through Advanced Placement and dual-credit courses at Oakton Community College and Eastern Illinois University. The goal is to place students in an internship experience before they leave high school. Through more than 600 business partnerships districtwide, students can explore career options in law, finance, hospitality management and other nonprofit and corporate enterprises, according to the school's application.
Fremd High School, one of five comprehensive high schools in Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211, has made strides in the last five years to eliminate the opportunity gap in key areas, including graduation rate, student discipline, and AP and dual-credit enrollment, officials said.
The school provides courses and training in growing career fields, such as computer science and manufacturing, and is home to two Illinois Teachers of the Year winners.
"It is a tremendous honor to be recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School," Principal Kurt Tenopir said. "Fremd High School is extremely fortunate to have a talented and caring faculty, strong parent involvement and community support, and resources to provide rich educational opportunities for all students."
Wheaton Academy, a Christian high school, is among nine Illinois private schools to be tapped for the honor. It was nominated by the Council for American Private Education.
"Our 165-year legacy is rooted in setting a high bar for academic standards and fostering student learning and growth," Head of School Steve Bult said. "Every day our faculty and staff work tirelessly to create an environment for students to think critically and engage global problems."
It's Eastview Elementary School's first Blue Ribbon. The only other Community Unit District 300 school to earn the recognition was Kenneth E. Neubert Elementary School, also in Algonquin, in 1985.
Eastview is labeled an exemplary school by the state and has been recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education for being a high poverty school with excellent performance four times in the past 13 years. It also was ranked by Chicago Magazine as the top elementary school in Kane County last September.
"Their student scores were in the top 15% of the state based off statewide assessments," District 300 Superintendent Fred Heid said. "They have a large population of students who receive special education services. They are sincerely honoring our commitment to serve all children equally. It's more than just the academics. It's the culture ... there is a true sense of community there."
Roslyn Road Elementary School earned the award for a second time. It received a Blue Ribbon in 2013. Barrington 220 schools collectively have earned 11 National Blue Ribbon Awards.
"Earning the Blue Ribbon is a community effort, from the support of district personnel, to the partnership of every Roslyn household and the efforts of every student and teacher," Principal Paul Kirk said. "It is a terrific honor."
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will recognize awardees on Nov. 14 and 15 in Washington, D.C. To view school profiles, visit nationalblueribbonschools.ed.gov/awardwinners.