One of the four Walpole elementary schools, Old Post Road (OPR), received the National Blue Ribbon School Award for their overall academic excellence including their high scores on the MCAS and closing the achievement gaps among student subgroups. OPR is the first Walpole public school to ever receive this award and the only school in Massachusetts this year to receive a National Blue Ribbon Award with ‘high achievement’ status.
Representatives from all of the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program award winning schools traveled to Washington D.C. on Nov. 6 and Nov. 7 for a conference, with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos as one of the keynote speakers. In attendance from OPR was Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jean Kenney, third grade teacher Erica Curran and former OPR Principal Stephen Fortin.
The two-day conference of workshops closed with the presentation of awards in the afternoon. OPR was recognized on stage with the Head of the Blue Ribbon Awards Association and received a plaque with a flag on it representing a high achieving school.
“It was an honor to receive these awards for our school. It made me very proud to see that we were one of only a few schools in the entire country to be honored in this manner,” Fortin said.
OPR was one of 340 schools from 44 states and three Department of Defense schools to be honored in Washington DC.
“It is the students’ hard work in learning day in and day out, along with teachers’ strong teaching that makes for a successful school,” Fortin said.
Exemplary schools are recognized in each state regarding the hard work done by all in the community, including students, teachers and parents, to create a welcoming school environment for the students to learn in. OPR was invited to apply for the award based on having qualifying standardized test scores.
“Our test scores on MCAS have shown very steady growth for several years and have been in the very high category as compared to all other elementary schools in Massachusetts for the past couple of years,” Fortin said.
The application went through the U.S. Department of Education and was reviewed a second time by the Massachusetts Department of Education, who looked at the most recent MCAS scores to confirm that the school deserved the award.
“It’s a whole school community effort where everyone works together and has worked together for a long period of time. It’s a veteran staff that has mastered that craft and mastered their collaboration, and that’s one reason why achievement has been so great,” current OPR principal, David Barner said.
Moving forward, OPR strives to work towards receiving another Blue Ribbon Award in a few years, for no school has ever applied for a second consecutive year.
“High levels of student achievement will be the first priority for OPR to maintain our shared vision to have every student achieve their potential with the support of teachers, parents and community members,” Barner said.