Ogden Elementary awarded National Blue Ribbon

By Bryan Richardson

Ogden Elementary has been nominated for the 2014 National Blue Ribbon (NBR) Schools Award Program.

The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) nominated five schools for the prestigious award that recognizes high and/or improved performance by public and private elementary, middle, and high schools.

Last year, 286 schools received a National Blue Ribbon Award.

Ogden received its nomination in the Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools category.

In order to be nominated, the school had to be in the top 15 percent of all schools in the state for both reading (English language arts) and mathematics based on its progress in closing achievement gaps between the school’s subgroups and the state’s all-students group over the past five years.

Superintendent Bob Shannon, who first came to the district in 2005, said this is the first time a USD 383 school has received a nomination in his tenure.

“It’s a big deal in the public school system,” he said. “It doesn’t happen to very many schools.”

Principal Jim Armendariz said goals aren’t necessarily about awards, but it’s nice to get recognition for the school’s work with students who mostly come from difficult economic backgrounds.

This year, 75 percent of students come from homes on the low end of the socioeconomic spectrum - based on their guardians’ education, income and occupation.

“What we truly want to do is make a difference in the lives of children who have struggles at home and (who) struggled at multiple schools before they came here,” Armendariz said.

Armendariz said it takes a team effort to educate, including the involvement of 701st Brigade Support Battalion at Fort Riley, Stoneybrook Retirement Community and parents of the students who make progress.

“I think parent involvement is crucial,” he said. “We’re able to garner it in a number of ways, such as math and reading nights and multicultural night.”

Armendariz said a significant aspect of the school’s success is hiring people that “look like the students” as a way to establish a connection.

At the school, 28 percent of students and 23 percent of employees are minorities.

Armendariz said the school has already begun filling out the 20-page application that will be sent to the U.S. Department of Education.

The final selection of the 2014 NBR schools will be made in September. National Blue Ribbon Schools are honored each year at a recognition ceremony in Washington, D.C.

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