Dr. Laurie Pitre, principal at North Bay Elementary School, was wearing a huge star today and walking the halls waving a star-studded wand over students to call attention to North Bay being named as a Star School this week by the Mississippi Department of Education.
But on Friday, Pitre and the students and staff at North Bay will be garbed in blue, signaling the latest honor for the school: The U.S. Department of Education today named North Bay as a National Blue Ribbon School.
North Bay is one of only 255 public schools nationwide and one of only three in Mississippi to receive the honor this year. This is also the third Biloxi public school in five years to be named a Blue Ribbon winner. The achievement recognizes schools where students achieve at high levels or where the achievement gap is narrowing.
"I feel like a momma proud of her children -- all 700 students and 70 staff members," Pitre said. "Everyone worked really hard to make sure that we went from being a nominated school last spring to meeting the requirements to be named as a National Blue Ribbon school."
Pitre said the Blue Ribbon honor has been a long-term goal of hers, and realizing that goal became a continuing challenge since being nominated by the state last year.
"A comprehensive application was completed for the U.S. Department of Education once we were nominated, and our students had to meet Annual Yearly Progress in all areas on our state tests in May 2011 as the final hurdle to being named," she said.
"Our theme last spring was 'Think Blue' to help our students and staff to stay motivated for excellence. We have great support from our central office and school board. Our parents are also super involved.
"It is truly a team effort! We are going to make it a year of celebration and continue to work hard to be the best school we can be for our students!"
The other Mississippi Blue Ribbon Schools are Saltillo High School in Saltillo and Kathleen Bankston Elementary School in Greenwood.
The U.S. Department of Education will honor the 255 public and 49 private schools with their National Blue Ribbon School awards at a conference and awards ceremony Nov. 14-15 in Washington, D.C.
"America's long-term economic prosperity and civic engagement depends on our children receiving a world-class education," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said today in making the announcement. "National Blue Ribbon Schools are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers. Their success is an example for others to follow."
Background: To learn more about the award, which also was won by Biloxi High School in 2007 and Nichols in 2010, click here.
Pitre TV: Principal Laurie Pitre talks about the National Blue Ribbon Award on WLOX's "4 O'clock Show" this afternoon.