By Starrla Cray
WAVERLY, MN Humphrey Elementary in Waverly has been feeling blue lately, but not in the way one might think.
Earlier this year, the school was selected as an “exemplary high performing” 2012 Blue Ribbon school by the Minnesota Department of Education.
“We should be proud to be blue,” Principal Jen Olson said during a Blue Ribbon celebration at Humphrey Elementary Tuesday afternoon.
As members of the community gathered to recognize the school’s achievements, students greeted them at the door and handed out tiny blue ribbons. Students and staff showed their pride with matching blue T-shirts, which were paid for through local business and individual donations.
After Olson welcomed the crowd, American Legion Post 305 of Waverly presented the colors, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem.
Throughout the ceremony, students spoke about why they think Humphrey Elementary is a Blue Ribbon school.
“There is a lot of teamwork around this school,” fourth-grader Erica Pawelk said. “Parents, teachers, students, and staff all work together to make a fun learning environment.”
“We have great parents that help us out, and great teachers, too,” Haylee Armentrout added.
Morgan Marketon highlighted two staff members in particular: “Mr. Westling is the best gym teacher . . . and my principal is awesome.”
Taylor Kriesel and Autumn Hecker also shared their love of Humphrey Elementary with the audience.
Guest speakers included Rose Wan-Mui Chu of the Minnesota Department of Education, and Deborah Steiskal, district director for Rep. Michele Bachmann.
“We still have a lot of challenges in education, but we don’t celebrate enough the things that work this is one of those things that work,” Wan-Mui Chu said.
Steiskal, who has nieces and a nephew who currently attend Humphrey Elementary, read a letter from Bachmann. In the letter, Bachmann encouraged students to continue doing their best in their studies, not only for themselves, but also for the good of their country.
The audience also listened to a video recording from Senator Amy Klobuchar. Klobuchar stated there are more than 132,000 k-12 schools in the US, and only 269 were chosen as Blue Ribbon schools in 2012.
Seven of those schools are in Minnesota, including Humphrey Elementary, Dassel Elementary in Dassel, Normandale Elementary in Edina, Hilltop Primary School in Minnetrista, Withrow Elementary in Hugo, RTR Elementary School in Tyler, and Team Academy in Waseca.
In mid-November, Olson and teacher Pam Halverson accepted Humphrey Elementary’s award at a recognition ceremony in Washington, DC. When they went up to accept the plaque, they danced across the stage, just for fun.
The dancing theme continued at Tuesday’s celebration, as students danced their way back to class.
“Congratulations Humphrey Elementary on a job well done,” Olson said at the close of the program. “You rock.”
Olson told the audience that everyone’s help is needed to keep up the school’s academic excellence.
“Let’s not sit back and get comfy, because now we have a reputation to uphold,” she said. “Let’s turn a little bluer.”