Meridian school Chief Joseph School of the Arts was one of 362 schools recognized statewide as a 2019 National Blue Ribbon School. The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

The U.S. Department of Education announced the full list of schools Thursday.

Chief Joseph School of the Arts, a public elementary school in the West Ada School District, was one of two Idaho schools honored this year. The other was the Burton Elementary School in Rexburg.

Chief Joseph is the first school in the Treasure Valley to be named a National Blue Ribbon School in more than six years. It was recognized statewide last year as an Idaho Blue Ribbon School, according to its website.

The school serves 525 K-5 students, with roughly 42% eligible for free or reduced-price meals at school. Chief Joseph is also an English Learners magnet school, meaning that 12% of students speak a language beyond English at home and a dedicated EL teacher partners with classroom teachers to provide instruction to strengthen literacy skills, the school’s application stated.

Chief Joseph Principal Gretchen Hart said being named a National Blue Ribbon school “is so exciting.”

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“Without a doubt, the award is a result of the hard work, dedication, and care of ALL staff, students and families, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to share our story,” she told the Meridian Press over email. “At Chief Joseph, every student is valued and supported, and staff are committed to ‘growing’ each and every one of our kids!”

Hart noted that the school’s partnerships with its families were also part of its success.

“We work hard to build and maintain a school culture that’s diverse, welcoming and student-centered,” she said.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools program started 37 years ago. Since then it has recognized more than 9,000 schools. On Nov. 14-15, the U.S. Department of Education will celebrate with 312 public and 50 non-public school honorees at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

“We recognize and honor your important work in preparing students for successful careers and meaningful lives,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a release from the U.S. Department of Education. “As a National Blue Ribbon School, your school demonstrates what is possible when committed educators hold all students and staff to high standards and create vibrant, innovative cultures of teaching and learning.”


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