When the slide declaring Harry Stone Montessori and IB World School as a National Blue Ribbon School appeared on the screen, the 6th-8th graders in the auditorium erupted in cheers and applause.
Meanwhile, teachers and students over at Trinidad “Trini” Garza Early College High School at Mountain View College celebrated their school’s Blue Ribbon status by dancing with the school’s mascot and waving pom poms in the air.
The festivities on Tuesday were well-deserved: by being named 2015 National Blue Ribbon Schools, Harry Stone and Garza ECHS earn one of the most prestigious recognitions in education. The National Blue Ribbon program recognizes schools across the nation for their academic excellence or for making exemplary progress in closing the achievement gap.
“Dallas ISD continues to work to raise the bar on student achievement. Garza ECHS and Harry Stone are excellent examples of the strides we are making, and we’re very proud of them,” said Interim Superintendent Michael Hinojosa. “Both schools are meeting the expectation we have for all our campuses: to ensure all students are excelling regardless of background. They are setting the bar high. This is a honor that is well-deserved.”
In a video statement, U.S. Secretary of Education told the 335 schools named 2015 National Blue Ribbon winners that the honor recognizes the students’ accomplishments and the hard work and dedication that went into their success.
“Your journey has taught you collaboration, intentional instruction, and strong relationships in school and with your community,” he said. “You represent excellence—in vision, in implementation, and in results—and we want to learn as much as we can from you.”
Celebration at Stone
Avery Rose, who has attended Stone for nine years, talked about what it means to be a Blue Ribbon School – the honor, prestige and hard work to get there. He said a blue ribbon evokes thoughts of winners and first place, but in his school’s case, it also denotes a culture of excellence.
“We’ve always known great things were happening at Stone,” Rose said. “Now the world knows it, too.”
Lisa Curry, who had served as principal at Stone from 2008 to 2015, said the school’s recognition is no surprise.
“When we started this journey seven years ago, would we have imagined we’d be celebrating becoming a National Blue Ribbon school?” she asked. “Yes.”
Current Principal Nichole Brooks said today’s students are part of a longer history.
“What I want you to realize is that Harry Stone has such a rich legacy,” she said.
Harrison Blair, from Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson’s office, read a recognition from the official. Student performances – from the orchestra, mixed choir and a trio of piano players – rounded out the special celebration. Because Stone serves grades kindergarten-8th, and the auditorium is too small to accommodate everyone, a second event was conducted afterward for the younger students.
Celebration at Garza
Trini Garza Principal Dr. Janice Lombardi said the Blue Ribbon honor validates the hard work—from teachers staying late to students putting in the effort—that she sees every day.
Trinidad “Trini” Garza, a well-known Dallas civic leader and the school’s namesake, thanked Lombardi and her staff for their effort.
“I know how hard y’all have worked for this accomplishment,” he said. “Today we get to enjoy that the work has been recognized.”
Dr. Robert Garza, president of Mountain View College, said the college is priviledged to count the students at Garza ECHS as part of the MVC family.
“The staff and administrators worked diligently with students to achieve this award, and we celebrate with them as they continue to ensure their students are college ready, career ready and life ready,” he said.
Garza Early College High and Harry Stone Montessori are among 285 public and 50 private schools to be honored at a recognition ceremony on Nov. 9-10 in Washington, D.C.