By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, MN It was an evening of excitement Tuesday for students, staff, parents, and community members who gathered to celebrate Dassel Elementary’s national recognition as a 2012 National Blue Ribbon School.
Dassel Elementary was recognized as one of 219 public schools (50 private) in the nation for this award based on academic excellence. The award is given to schools where students perform at very high levels, or where significant improvements are being made in students’ levels of achievement. This is indicated by scores on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessements (MCAs).
Dassel Elementary Principal Debbie Morris explained that schools are nominated by the state to fill out an applicatioin. This is and intense, mult-year process. Receiving the award was “definitely a team effort,” she said.
Morris recently accepted the award during a ceremony in Washington, DC, and unveiled the plaque to the students and community Tuesday.
The program began with a parade of students, each grade representing a different theme. For example, first graders decorated themselves based on themes from the Dr. Seuss books, such as “Cat in the Hat.”
To give students an idea of just what a big deal this award means for the school, Morris gave examples of how it would feel for the Olympian to win a gold medal, or a hockey team to win the Stanley Cup.
“I think this is just like that,” she told the students.
Morris added that just like those athletes, winning an award for educational excellence takes hard work, practice, a passion for learning, and most of all, being surrounded by people who care.
Dassel-Cokato School Board Chair Kevin Bjork spoke on the district’s behalf to congratulate not only the students and staff, but the community and parents. “It’s a great honor,” he said.
“What an amazing achievement to be a Blue Ribbon School,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius. “I commend all of you.”
“Thank you for being a great example for the state of Minnesota,” Cassellius added.
Not only did each of the students and staff get a T-shirt proclaiming the award, but each of the Dassel elementary staff was given a pin.
The ceremony concluded with a cheer by each of the grades. “Dassel, are you ready? Dassel, are you ready? Let me see you get down, let me see you get down. DOWN that’s the way we get down . . . DOWN that’s the way we get down.”