The students and staff of Nichols Elementary School, who now attend nearby Gorenflo Elementary School, are planning a celebration Friday to mark today's U.S. Department of Education announcement that Nichols has been named a National Blue Ribbon School.
Nichols is the only school in South Mississippi to achieve the honor, one of only four schools in the state, and one of only 304 in the entire country. Nichols is the second Biloxi school to receive the honor; Biloxi High School was named a blue ribbon school in 2007.
Former Nichols Principal Melissa Nance, who now serves as principal at Gorenflo, said the students and staff will have a brief ceremony Friday morning at 9. It also will be open to parents.
The Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools that are either high performing or have improved student achievement to high levels, especially among disadvantaged students. The program is part of a larger Department of Education effort to identify and disseminate knowledge about best school leadership and teaching practices.
"This a huge honor for Principal Melissa Nance, the teachers, the students and parents," said Biloxi Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul A. Tisdale.
The announcement is the latest accolade for an east Biloxi school that was closed this year because of declining enrollment and drastic cuts in state education funding. The Mississippi Department of Education named Nichols a Star School, the state's highest rating, last school year, and in April Nichols' fourth grade math and science teacher Brad Shonk was named the Mississippi Teacher of the Year.
"Nichols was nominated for consideration as a Blue Ribbon school about a year ago," Tisdale said. "The hard work of students, parents, staff, and Principal Nance made this possible. Their efforts are what made the difference, and they continue to make a difference at Gorenflo today."