ORONO, Maine — Two Maine schools received nods from the U.S. Department of Education on Thursday for their success in academics and closing achievement gaps.
Orono Middle School and Eliot Elementary School, along with 303 others in the U.S., were named National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2011. They will be honored at a conference in Washington, D.C., set for Nov. 14-15, according to the Department of Education.
“I’m so proud of our students, our faculty and staff, our parents and the community,” said Orono Middle School Principal Robert Lucy. “We’re thrilled with the award.”
The Maine Department of Education nominated the school in February based on its academic performance. Orono Middle School staff members then started a lengthy application process in which they provided information about programs and improvements to make the school a better learning environment, Lucy said.
The nominated schools were evaluated on how their students performed on state assessments and how students from disadvantaged backgrounds performed on those tests.
Lucy said the school held an assembly at 2 p.m. Thursday to celebrate the announcement.
The Department of Education has invited principals and one teacher from each school to attend the November conference.
Schools will receive a flag to hoist outside their building, a plaque, and a blue-ribbon seal to put on letterhead, according to Eliot Elementary School Principal Maureen Goering.
“I’m so proud of this school and the students and teachers,” Goering said.
She said she was honored that her school was one of just two to win the award in a state with more than 700 public schools.
Last year, the James F. Doughty School in Bangor and the Kennebunkport Consolidated School, a K-5 school, received the Blue Ribbon award. Conners-Emerson Elementary School in Bar Harbor was recognized in 2004 and Bangor High School was a Blue Ribbon School in 2002.
A complete list of the 2011 winners is available at www.ed.gov/nationalblueribbonschools.