SUAMICO – The day started off like any other at Suamico Elementary – with school announcements.
But that’s where the normalcy stopped.
"We're going to have an exciting morning here at Suamico," said Principal Ryan Welnetz over the school intercom.
Hundreds of students began streaming out of their classrooms, filling the gym for a special announcement.
"Suamico Panthers,” said Welnetz to the crowd. “You are a 2013 national Blue Ribbon School! Congratulations!"
Suamico Elementary is one school among seven in the state receiving the national recognition this year. The award highlights schools, staff and students' high levels of performance, achievements and improvements. However, it was another announcement from Welnetz that received a much more rousing ovation from the students.
"And we got cake for everybody!"
At 9:00 a.m., mind you. But says Welnetz says the early morning sugar rush is worth the hard work put in by students, staff and parents.
"I wasn't happy with just being the best in this area – or the best in Wisconsin,” said Welnetz. “We wanted to be one of the best in the nation. And so, we can actually hang our hats on that now."
Howard-Suamico officials say the designation provides validation, not just for the school, but the work being done in the entire district.
The school won the award because it is considered an exemplary high performing school, based on high state assessments in reading and math.
"Definitely an affirmation of the hard work and the focus, especially as it relates to student achievement and the emphasis that we place on student achievement," said district superintendent Damian LaCroix.
Now with Suamico Elementary added to the list, it is the seventh Green Bay-area school – both public and private – to have been named a "Blue Ribbon" school since the program started in 1982:
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LaCroix says student achievement is improved upon by giving them tools to succeed – like tablets and classroom apps.
"Now we do stuff on the iPads, we don't do written tests,” explained 9-year-old Brooklyn Rau, a 4th grader at Suamico Elementary. “Sometimes, we have Schoology [a classroom learning management application] right on our own personal device."
Around the state, schools in Kohler, Muskego, La Crosse, Wauwatosa, Grafton and Ridgeway also received the award. Nearly 300 schools were recognized, nationwide.
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