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Plentywood School Wins Top National Award
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Plentywood School Wins Top National Award

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Plentywood Elementary School has been named one of three Montana schools to receive a 2011 National Blue Ribbon Award.

U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., announced the prestigious award Sept. 15.

Other Montana schools receiving the top national honor from the U.S. Department of Education were Cold Springs and Russell Elementary schools, both in Missoula.

“I’m so proud of these schools and their dedicated teachers and students for receiving this coveted award,” Baucus said. “Our economy and our democracy relies on quality education and giving our kids and grandkids every tool to succeed. By investing in our students, we are investing in Montana’s future. I applaud the parents, students, teachers and administrators of Plentywood, Russell Elementary School and Cold Springs Elementary School on their dedication to academic excellence.”

Rob Pedersen, principal of Plentywood Elementary School, said it was a proud achievement for the elementary school of 173 kindergarten through sixth-grade students.

Pedersen noted Plentywood Middle School won the 2011 National Blue Ribbon award in 2003, and the elementary school was nominated for the award in 2009.

“We’re very happy and proud,” Pedersen said. “Obviously, our teachers are doing a great job and our students work really hard on preparing for the (Montana Comprehensive Assessment System Criterion-Referenced Tests).”

Asked of Plentywood’s secret of educational success, Pedersen, a 1986 Wolf Point graduate, said it was due to “veteran teachers that work very hard to improve their instruction on a daily basis.”

Plentywood, Cold Springs and Russell Elementary schools earned the distinction based on their overall academic excellence, or for success in closing achievement gaps.

“This award will be shared by professional, hard-working teachers and staff past and present, by a supportive and involved parent community; and by a delightful, earnest group of learners that make up our student population,” said Cold Springs Elementary principal Webb Harrington. “Parents, teachers and students work collaboratively to provide a dynamic learning environment at Cold Springs school.”

Russell Elementary School principal Cindy Christensen also said the award is a result of teamwork.

“By providing a high-quality education in a student-centered atmosphere, our staff, students, parents and community partners have long shared in the responsibility to do whatever it takes to help each child reach their greatest potential,” said Russell Elementary School principal Cindy Christensen. “This award will be shared by all the individuals, past and present, who have helped to create a positive and diverse environment where students feel valued and respected,”

In total, 305 schools achieved the 2011 honor from the U.S. Department of Education. They will be recognized at a conference and awards ceremony Nov. 14-15 in Washington, D.C.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private schools based on one of two criteria:

1. Schools whose students are high performing. These are schools ranked among each state’s highest performing schools as measured by their performance on state assessments or, in the case of private schools, that score at the highest performance level on nationally-normed tests; or

2. Schools with at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds that improve student performance to high levels as measured by the school’s performance on state assessments or nationally-normed tests.

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