Rockwood earns National Blue Ribbon designation, fourth area school to do so in four years

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Sep. 20—ROCKWOOD, Pa. — Rockwood Area Elementary School is the latest is a list of area schools to receive the coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools award from the U.S. Department of Education.

"It was a very humbling experience," Principal Jonathan Hale said.

The school was one of 10 named in Pennsylvania with a total of 297 in the country.

These institutions can receive the award by either being an exemplary high-performing school or an exemplary achievement gap-closing school.

Rockwood Elementary School earned its designation through the high-performing category.

That means the students in kindergarten through sixth grade are among Pennsylvania's highest performing as measured by state assessments or national tests.

Hale said the award has been cause for a lot of reflection on what is done in Rockwood Elementary School and how hard the faculty and staff work to meet the students where they are.

He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic did not make the education process any easier, but the dedicated teachers and staff pushed through to help the students.

Hale also said that the school takes a "data-driven approach" that benefits the school and the district.

Rockwood Area Elementary is the fourth area school in as many years to receive the distinguished award.

Windber Area High School was named a blue-ribbon school in 2019; Conemaugh Township Area ElementarySchool in 2020; and Cambria Heights High School in 2021.

"We're pretty excited," said Rockwood Superintendent Mark Bower.

He commended Hale and the faculty and staff at the elementary school for earning the honor.

Bower said the recognition stems from "hard-working students, extremely dedicated teachers and paraprofessionals" as well as committed support staff, aids and everyone else in the building.

"It's a recognition and honor that's truly a tribute to the entire school community," he said.

Bower added that Rockwood is also fortunate to have supportive parents, community and school board.

"I applaud all the honorees for the 2022 National Blue Ribbon Schools Award for creating vibrant, welcoming and affirming school communities where students can learn, grow, reach their potential and achieve their dreams," U.S. Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a release. "As our country continues to recover from the pandemic, we know that our future will only be as strong as the education we provide to all of our children. Blue Ribbon Schools have gone above and beyond to keep students healthy and safe while meeting their academic, social, emotional and mental health needs. These schools show what is possible to make an enduring, positive difference in students' lives"

Additionally, National Blue Ribbon Schools "serve as models of effective school practices for state and district educators and other schools throughout the nation," according to the department.