Harlan School District Receives Blue Ribbon Award


September 27th, 2013 by Chris Parks

(Joel McCall-KNOD) The Harlan Community School District has been recognized as one of the top schools in the country by the United States Department of Education. The district, along with 285 others, has been named the 2013 cohort of National Blue Ribbon Schools in the United States. The United States Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, announced the schools earlier this week in a press release. The award is based on the districts overall academic excellence or their progress in improving student academic achievement. The Harlan Community School District was one of 5 schools, and the only high school, from the state of Iowa named a Blue Ribbon School. Harlan Community Superintendent Justin Wagner told KNOD news the award is quite the honor,

Wagner1: “Exciting, great honor for the staff, you know those are the folks in the trenches making the difference. I am really happy for them. From my seat, it really reflects what I know what happens everyday so it is always good to see the honor that reflects the work being put in.”

He says the process for being a blue ribbon school is complicated,

Wagner2: “You have the Federal and State Government involved. Each state is allowed to nominate a certain amount of schools. They have a rigorous process that they have to go through; they call indicators of excellence in school districts before you get nominated.”

A lot of the process deals with your academic achievement in regards to the Iowa assessment scores,

Wagner3: “You have to be in the upper echelon. In Iowa, you have to be in the top 15 percent. We know Iowa is amongst the best states in test scores so we know we are in an elite group. And then there are other indicators that they talk about that make up the nomination.”

A few members of the staff will be going to the ceremony including a high school teacher, high school principal, a board member and the superintendent. Wagner said this is a proud moment for the district,

Wagner4: “It truly is an elite award. Again, we are just extremely excited and proud of the high school staff and principal. But I will tell you this is a reflection of kids and staff as a whole.”

All the National Blue Ribbon Schools will be honored at a recognition ceremony on November 18th and 19th in Washington D.C.