Southern named 'Blue Ribbon School,' receives YouTube congrats from US education secretary

Published: 9/29/2016 10:00 AM
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BY STEPHANIE BETTICK

THE NEWS-ITEM stephanie_b@newsitem.com

CATAWISSA RR — Southern Columbia Area High School is one of 329 to be named a 2016 National Blue Ribbon School, recognizing it as one of the top performing schools in the nation.

The program, now in its 34th year, 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.

Jim Becker, high school principal, said the school was notified at 1 p.m. Wednesday with a 20-minute Youtube video, including a congratulations from U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King.

Becker said Superintendent Paul Caputo was a driving force in putting the application together. Southern received an invitation to apply in January and submitted its application in May.

“You had to tell them about the school and everything we do to make kids successful — from A to Z, what we do,” he said. “There were guiding questions that helped us along the way, but it was a pretty extensive application.”

Caputo said the thorough process was good for the district.

“Going through this whole process really made us reflect on who we are and what we’re doing, and whether we received this award or not, we were satisfied and very pleased with what we offer our students,” he said.

The application consisted of an evaluation from the school of everything that is done, from course offerings and test scores to success students achieve, Becker explained.

“For us to take a nice, long, in-depth look at what we do was very encouraging,” Becker said. “We were able to look at our big picture and we’re pretty proud of what we’re doing, and we’ve gotten some national recognition for it, so that was a great thing.”

Caputo said he is extremely proud of what Becker, the staff and students are accomplishing at the high school.

He said, “Our goal is to provide our students with academic excellence, and this award is recognition that we’re meeting those goals.”

The entire Southern Columbia community can share in the award, Caputo said, “because everybody in their own unique way, whether as a parent, cafeteria worker, elementary or middle school teachers, they’ve all influenced the students at Southern Columbia.”

In a message sent by Caputo through SchoolMessenger, he wrote, “It is the supportive environment that you provide at home and in the elementary and middle schools that is making a positive difference in allowing Southern Columbia Area to be a great place for students to learn and be successful.”

The Department of Education will hold an awards ceremony on Nov. 7 and 8 in Washington, D.C., to formally recognize this year’s Blue Ribbon Award recipients. Becker said he doesn’t know who will be attending, but he imagines it would be him and Caputo.

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