Norwin elementary school given Blue Ribbon Award
A Norwin elementary school was given the National Blue Ribbon Award for academic excellence, becoming the first school in the district to win the award.
Students at Sunset Valley in kindergarten through fourth grade erupted into cheers Friday morning as Principal Jason Cendroski announced the achievement, which was given to more than 360 schools across the country this year, with 18 in Pennsylvania, including Central Elementary School in Elizabeth.
“It’s recognition of the great place that we have here at Sunset Valley — the wonderful community, the parents, the teachers and students and all of their hard work,” Cendroski said. “It’s great recognition from the Department of Education to recognize Sunset Valley as one of the top schools in the country, and we certainly appreciate receiving this honor and we look forward to sharing our information with other schools across the county and across the commonwealth.”
In its 37th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program assesses schools based on how high they perform on state and national assessments or how they are closing achievement gaps between a school’s student groups and all students. So far, more than 9,000 schools in the country have been given the award.
In November, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, along with the U.S. Department of Education, will celebrate with the 312 public and 50 private schools during an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.
“We recognize and honor your important work in preparing students for successful careers and meaningful lives,” DeVos said in a news release. “As a National Blue Ribbon School, your school demonstrates what is possible when committed educators hold all students and staff to high standards and create vibrant, innovative cultures of teaching and learning.”
And during Friday’s assembly, Sunset Valley teachers and students celebrated another achievement — kindness awards.
Twenty students dressed in Norwin’s blue and gold were presented with certificates honoring a kind act they performed in September.
“The initiative to be kind started this year. … With our population of students that we have, we have students with a lot of diverse needs so we are constantly striving to be kind to each other,” Cendroski said.
He added that students have the opportunity to win Knight Notes, which are given to award good behavior rather than disciplining students, fitting into the positive schoolwide behavior program that promotes responsibility, respect and safety.
“You feel the energy from the kids. They’re excited to get Knight Notes and — rather than being on the negative side where we’re disciplining students — we’re encouraging the positive behaviors, and I think we’ve had great success with that,” he said.
Acts of kindness will continue throughout the year. In October, students are encouraged to donate socks that will be taken to homeless shelters in the Irwin and North Huntingdon areas.
“We hope that builds upon the student’s character so that we’re looking at small acts of kindness in the class and then something they can talk with their families and parents about,” Cendroski said. “So it brings that connection home that they’re able to (say), ‘Hey, we’re being kind at school; we were talking about kindness. Do you think we could donate, go to the store, buy socks and then donate them?’ And it’s a very simple thing.”
Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .