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A blue-ribbon day for Armour and Kimball

For the students in Armour and Kimball on Tuesday, there was a lot worth celebrating. The Kimball Elementary School and the Armour High School each held assemblies and were recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2018. Both schools have pr...

National_Blue_Ribbon_Schools_seal.jpg

For the students in Armour and Kimball on Tuesday, there was a lot worth celebrating.

The Kimball Elementary School and the Armour High School each held assemblies and were recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2018. Both schools have proven to be small but mighty, with 53 students at Armour High School in grades 9-12, while Kimball has 117 students from pre-kindergarten through fourth grade.

Interim State Secretary of Education Mary Stadick Smith traveled from Pierre to the two communities to honor the students and staff of the schools and present them with the prestigious awards during the school celebrations Tuesday morning.

The first stop was in Kimball where the school staff and most of the 306 students in the district packed the bleachers of the gym, the school's marching band included.

"It's great for us to be here and to celebrate the National Blue Ribbon status with you. It's wonderful," Stadick Smith said.

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The Blue Ribbon Program started in the United States in 1982 and was created to reward schools that not only had student achievement, but also made significant improvements in closing the achievement gap for student sub groups, which basically means all students are learning, explained Stadick Smith. Both schools were honored for being "exemplary high performing schools."

"The National Blue Ribbon award is based on test scores, but our schools are not all about test scores," Stadick Smith said. "The scores are just one piece of data at a certain time. Teaching and learning are about the heart and mind, and that has been very obvious here today in Armour and Kimball. Our kids are learning to be good people."

Across the nation, there are approximately 98,800 public schools. Only 349 of these schools received a Blue Ribbon Award this year, with three of them being in South Dakota. (The other school to receive the honor was Wall Elementary School.

Kimball Superintendent and Elementary School Principal Tim Mayclin had the honor of visiting to Washington D.C. last week, where he and other delegates of both schools were welcomed with a reception at the White House.

"I don't think you totally get an understanding of what the award initially means until you're there," he said. "There were people from other schools in Washington D.C., that have won this award three or four times. They were talking about how important it was to their school and how it moved them forward. We are just happy we got it."

Mayclin said the award is a testament to the hard work of the students, teachers and community members. In its application, the district mentioned that more than half of the student population qualifies for free or reduced meals, but the community emphasizes a shared vision of learning and teachers and staff frequently collaborate professionally.

"We are fortunate," he said. "We are a little, dinky fly spot on the map of South Dakota. But we have a lot to be proud of."

In Armour, the festivities began at the high school gym with about 200 students and teachers in attendance. Superintendent Andrea Powell was unable to attend the entire event due to an illness, but spoke to The Daily Republic briefly ahead of the festivities.

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"I think that receiving this award is a great celebration of all the hard work that the kids and staff have put in and it is an acknowledgement of the really important things we do in school," Powell said. "A lot of times athletics get accolades, which are also important, but this highlights what we are here to do every single day."

The Armour school was recognized for being the focal point of the community and for high school students' roles in leading others. The district has put an emphasis on STEM and Career and Technical Education, while students are issued school-purchased laptops

For the Armour School District, this is not the first Blue Ribbon award. The district's elementary school received the Blue Ribbon honor in 2008.

"But Armour is the only school district in South Dakota that has received a Blue Ribbon Award for the elementary and now the high school. That's pretty cool," said Armour High School Principal Brad Preheim.

Related Topics: KIMBALL
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