Cheesequake Elementary School Receives National Blue Ribbon Honors
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today recognized Cheesequake Elementary School as a National Blue Ribbon School for 2017. The recognition is based on the school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.
Cheesequake, one of nine schools in New Jersey to earn this top honor, is the first school in Old Bridge to receive the National Blue Ribbon status.
“National Blue Ribbon Schools are active demonstrations of preparing every child for a bright future,” said DeVos. “You are visionaries, innovators, and leaders. You have much to teach us: some of you personalize student learning, others engage parents and communities in the work and life of your local schools and still others develop strong and forward-thinking leaders from among your teaching staff.”
The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students achieve very high learning standards or are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gap.
“The selection of Cheesequake Elementary School as our first National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence speaks volumes about our educators, our families, our community, and most of all our children,” said Old Bridge Township Public Schools Superintendent David Cittadino. “Cheesequake School serves as our template of quality in education as we continue to move at a remarkable pace toward recognized excellence throughout our 15 township schools. Having our first Blue Ribbon School coupled with our 15 National Schools of Character in Old Bridge will forever solidify our reputation as a superior school district.”
The Old Bridge Township Public School District, a National District of Character, boasts 15 National Schools of Character and 15 State Schools of Character by Character.org.
Character.org (formerly The Character Education Partnership) selects schools and districts that demonstrate that their focus on character development has had a positive impact on academic achievement, student behavior, and school climate. Selected schools are then expected to serve as models for other schools, helping them to achieve the same results.
The coveted National Blue Ribbon School award affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.
"I want to congratulate these nine New Jersey public schools for being selected as National Blue Ribbon Schools, the highest recognition bestowed by the United States Department of Education," said New Jersey Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington. "These schools are being honored thanks to the dedication of their teachers, administrators, students, and school communities working together to achieve educational excellence."
Now in its 35th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed recognition on more than 8,500 schools. The Secretary and the Department of Education will celebrate with the 292 public and 50 private schools at an awards ceremony at the Omni Shoreham in Washington, DC on Nov. 6 and 7. The 2017 cohort represents public and non-public elementary, middle, and high schools, including traditional, charter, magnet schools, parochial and independent schools in 44 states, the District of Columbia and Department of Defense Education Activity schools in Okinawa, Japan; Stuttgart, Germany; and West Point, New York.
All schools are honored in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, subgroup student scores, and graduation rates:
- Exemplary High Performing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.
- Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s subgroups and all students over the past five years.
“We are humbled and elated to receive this prestigious award from the United States Department of Education,” said Cheesequake Principal Thomas Ferry. “This is a wonderful moment for our school and the Township of Old Bridge. My talented staff and hard-working students have an unwavering commitment to excellence and focus on growth… I am incredibly proud of the staff, students, and parents of the Cheesequake School community and am honored to serve as their principal.”
Up to 420 schools may be nominated for the Blue Ribbon award each year. The Department invites National Blue Ribbon School nominations from the top education official in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Department of Defense Education Activity and the Bureau of Indian Education. Private schools are nominated by The Council for American Private Education (CAPE).
“We are proud of the outstanding progress of all of the staff and students at Cheesequake School,” said Assistant Superintendent of the Old Bridge Township Public Schools Kathleen Hoeker. “They set the bar high, and with drive and determination they have achieved this most distinguished honor. They possess the expertise, skills, and knowledge to serve as role models for others and will serve as such, as the very first Blue Ribbon School in Old Bridge.”