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For Immediate Release
September 17, 2004

Contact: Charles Pyle
Director of Communications
(804) 371-2420

Julie Grimes
Public Information Officer
(804) 225-2775

Six Virginia Schools Named to Federal Blue Ribbon School List

The U.S. Department of Education has designated five Virginia public schools and one private school as 2004 No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools.

W.H. Keister Elementary in Harrisonburg received federal Blue Ribbon School status for dramatically improving student achievement despite having a high proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Four Virginia public schools were recognized as high achieving schools in which students score in the top 10 percent on state assessments, including Arlington Traditional Elementary in Arlington County, Boones Mill Elementary in Franklin County, Brentsville District High in Prince William County, and C. Hunter Ritchie Elementary in Fauquier County.

All of the schools were fully accredited under Virginia’s achievement-based accountability system in 2003-2004. In addition, each school met the complex federal definition for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for 2004 under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).

“These schools represent a commitment to high standards,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Jo Lynne DeMary, who nominated the schools for federal recognition. “Their schoolwide focus is on excellent instruction and the belief that all children can succeed in the classroom.”

St. Mary's, a Catholic Diocese of Richmond K-8 school in Henrico County, also was recognized as a 2004 Blue Ribbon School by the federal education department. The Council for American Private Education nominated private and parochial schools for Blue Ribbon awards.

The Blue Ribbon Schools Program was established in 1982 to spotlight the country’s most successful schools. The program, which allows both elementary and secondary schools to be recognized in the same year, was renamed and modified last year to emphasize the goals of NCLB.

U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige will honor Virginia’s Blue Ribbon Schools during an awards ceremony in Washington. D.C., in November. Since 1982, 89 Virginia public and private schools have received federal Blue Ribbon designations.