WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH — Wrightsville Beach Elementary School has been named a 2016 National Blue Ribbon School by the United States Department of Education, marking it as one of the best schools in the country.
The school was officially notified today at 1 p.m., according to principal Jackson Norvell.
“It’s great to have that sort of recognition,” said Norvell, who is in his second year at the school. “Our teachers are extremely hard working, our student body is amazing, and our parents are so involved.”
According to Norvell, the school is one of just eight chosen for the recognition in the entire state of North Carolina, and the only one in this part of the state. Overall, 329 schools (279 public and 50 private) were awarded the honor this year.
“We have a marine science program that really sets us apart,” said Norvell. “We take advantage of being in this great environment where all our students can experience kayaking, crabbing and other things and make use of our dock out back.”
The Blue Ribbon Schools Program awards schools in two categories: Exemplary high performing, which means it is one of the top schools; or exemplary achievement gap closing, meaning it is making fast progress in lessening the achievement gaps between student subgroups.
In order to be nominated, schools must meet eligible criteria determined by their state’s department of education, go through a lengthy application process, then maintain that level of achievement for a year.
Wrightsville Beach Elementary School, sometimes also referred to as simply Wrightsville Beach School, serves 360 students from kindergarten through fifth grade and is the only school in the town. Because of that, Norvell said the award feels like an honor for the whole community.
“I think it’s good for everyone because we receive a lot of community support, especially for a small school,” said Norvell. “We have a lot of parents and volunteers and community partners who really get behind us, and we’re grateful for that.”
Students have not yet been informed of the award, but Norvell says they will be told tomorrow and a special celebration will eventually be planned. The award will formally be given to Norvell and one other representative from the school at a two-day event in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 7 and 8.
“It’s nice to get recognition that is positive, which is often hard to come by in our line of work,” Norvell said. “It’s really down to our amazing students and our dedicated teachers.”
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