“The National Blue Ribbon Schools Award is the highest honor a school can receive,” said Calhoun City Schools Superintendent Michele Taylor. “We are extremely proud of the teachers, students, parents and community for their efforts to support Calhoun High School’s commitment to excellence in all areas,” she said.
The award honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools whose students achieve at very high levels.
Only 6,796 schools have earned this status in the programs history and this year of more than 138,000 public and private schools in the country, only 266 public schools and 49 private schools earned this award.
“It’s not my honor, it’s the students’,” said Bumgardner. “We are proud of our students and our community.”
Calhoun High School was the only high school in Georgia to be awarded. The school was nominated as high performing as measured by state tests in both English/Language Arts and Math for the 2010-11 school year.
Students from disadvantaged backgrounds and subgroups must perform similar to all students tested. Many other factors were included in the application such as curriculum, instructional methods, professional development, school leadership, and many other types of data.
The process began with the Georgia’s Chief State School Officer notifying the school of the nomination. The school then had to accept or decline the nomination. Next, a lengthy and rigorous application process began, which began and ended Feb. 2011.
Last fall, explained then-principal Kelly Bumgardner, she was notified by the state department of education that CHS was being considered for Blue Ribbon honors.
“We were thrilled when we were told we would receive the award if we made AYP. As the state requirements increase annually, this becomes more of a challenge each year. The state clearly explained that all nominated schools must meet Adequately Yearly Progress to receive the award,” said Bumgardner.
Following the AYP status notification, the school was given instructions to make travel arrangements to Washington D.C. The Department of Education specifically requested that a teacher attend.
Then Teacher of the Year, Brenda Moss, was chosen to represent the staff at CHS to receive the award, according to Bumgardner.
“The National Blue Ribbon Award Ceremony in Washington D.C. was a very eye opening experience for me. I already had great pride for our system but listening to the speakers and being surrounded by other educators who had the same commitment to excellence gave me great honor for all we have accomplished,” said Moss, upon return from her trip.
Moss and Bumgardner agreed that the most memorable portion of the ceremony was when US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan stated, “The schools represented in the room were in the top 99.996 percent in the country,” according to a press release.
“The staff, students, and community support are what makes Calhoun High School so successful. It is the expectation that we excel in all we do,” said Bumgardner.
According to current CHS Principal Greg Green, staff and students will be recognized by the Governor and the community later in the school year.
“We will continue teaching and learning, and re-examining our craft,” said Green. “That’s what it comes down to. This award shows that we take care of business,” said Green.
Green went on to say that CHS will change with the times to accommodate the needs of its students so that they are best prepared for life after high school.
CHS takes every opportunity to celebrate the success of its students, teachers and school. During American Education Week, CHS teachers were treated to a catered lunch from the Varsity as just a small token of the excellent job they do year after year.
Bumgardner is now the Director of Facilities Operations for the new Calhoun Middle and High School construction development; Greg Green is now principal of the school.