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Williamstown Elementary School earns Blue Ribbon nod again

Williamstown Elementary School was named a 2020 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. This is the new school that opened this school year. (File Photo)

WILLIAMSTOWN — For the second time in school history, Williamstown Elementary School Thursday was named a 2020 National Blue Ribbon School.

After first receiving the award in 2008, Williamstown Elementary was among 367 public and private schools selected this year by the U.S. Department of Education.

Becoming the first school in Wood County to receive the honor twice and moving into the new school facility this fall was the “perfect send off” for the old elementary school, Principal Heather Bretthauer said. The newly built Williamstown Elementary School opened on Sept. 8.

The highest honor possible for a school is to be named a National Blue Ribbon School, she said.

“I think it’s the perfect closure to the old elementary school,” she said.

The honor was received based on the 2019-2020 school year, Bretthauer said.

“Suzetta Schofield (assistant principal) and I are beyond thrilled and proud of our community,” she said.

High goals were set for the staff, students and the community, which she said is the best for supporting academics.

“We are known as the sports town, but we are also an academic town. Everybody is behind us 100 percent, no matter what we do,” she said. “Our teachers work hard, we work hard, parents work hard and the students work hard. We can’t do it without the community. It’s a community effort all the way around.”

One of three schools in West Virginia to be named a Blue Ribbon School, Williamstown was nominated during the 2018-2019 school year by the state.

Schools have to meet Blue Ribbon School requirements for two years, some of the other schools nominated by the state had to be exempted after only just one year due to scores, according to Bretthauer.

“Basically, you have to prove it for two years. You’ve got to have your scores where they need to be and keep it for the following year,” Bretthauer said. “It means it’s just a validation of our work and continued work. In 2008, we were a high achieving school, and in 2020 we are a high achieving school. It just validates the fact that we work hard.”

Bretthauer sent out the announcement online for parents and residents and announced the recognition to staff and students on Thursday.

The education department recognizes all schools in performance categories, based on all student scores, student subgroup scores, and graduation rates. In its 38th year, the program has given 10,000 awards to more than 9,000 schools, some winning multiple awards.

Unable to hold an in-person ceremony due to COVID-19, a virtual ceremony will be held Nov. 12 and 13. Williamstown will receive its plaques and flags in the mail.

“For the second year in a row, Wood County Schools has been awarded a National Blue Ribbon School. This is a true testament of how strong our public education system is in Wood County. A huge congratulations to the staff, the parents, the students and the entire community of Williamstown Elementary School,” Wood County Superintendent Will Hosaflook said. “To be 1 of 367 schools to receive this award is an amazing honor, especially when you think about the thousands and thousands of public and private schools in the U.S.”

Contact Tyler Bennett at tbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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