By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published October 2, 2014
ATLANTA—St. Jude the Apostle School was honored again as a National Blue Ribbon School for overall excellence, its second award in 11 years.
The Sandy Springs school marked the occasion with a celebration, complete with frozen popsicles and a party for faculty.
“It’s an affirmation. It is not all about test scores. It is an affirmation of our commitment to solid academics, as well as commitment to our faith,” said the principal, Patty Childs.
Receiving the award is “just as sweet” as the first recognition, Childs said.
The announcement of the national award was made Tuesday, Sept. 30. The Blue Ribbon Schools program of the U.S. Department of Education honors elementary and secondary schools that meet either of two assessment criteria. The program recognizes schools that make significant progress in closing the achievement gap for students and schools whose students achieve at very high levels.
Pinecrest Academy, in Cumming, also received the national recognition. It was recognized for its standout academics in the whole school, from elementary to middle and high school.
School leaders congratulated the nearly 800 students at the independent Catholic school at an assembly. The students were rewarded with a no homework pass for a night and given a day out of uniform.
The school will also celebrate the recognition with a Mass of thanksgiving in January with Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory. The school earlier this fall received a School of Excellence designation by the Cardinal Newman Society.
Legionaries of Christ Father Robert Presutti is the president of Pinecrest Academy.
“I attribute this achievement to the unwavering pursuit of excellence in education among our administration and faculty, all of whom, over our 21-year history, have given selflessly to each and every student who has been educated here at Pinecrest,” he said in a statement. “This is a great time of rejoicing for the success of our students and faculty.”
In a letter to parents, he said, “As you know, our mission statement reminds us that at Pinecrest Academy we provide an atmosphere of academic rigor and critical thinking. The Blue Ribbon award affirms that Pinecrest is delivering on our mission statement.”
Both St. Jude and Pinecrest Academy were recognized under the umbrella of “exemplary high performing schools.” Pinecrest Academy has maintained a 100 percent graduation rate since its first graduating high school senior class in 2007.
“At Pinecrest, we’ve always known what a special place we have the privilege of educating children within, but it is great to have this accomplishment recognized by the Department of Education as well,” Paul Parker, Pinecrest Academy head of school, said in a statement.
St. Jude the Apostle School has about 500 students, kindergarten through eighth grade. As a private school, the students had to earn in the top 15 percent of Georgia’s test scores in both reading and math, in addition to other steps to show how the students are taught in a well-rounded curriculum.
Childs said parents should consider the award an affirmation their children are receiving a good education and the “investment in time, talent and treasure” is well spent and will enrich their children.
The national recognition comes out of the joint effort of parents, students and teachers to work together and all are dedicated to success, she said.
“Our teachers really believe in what they are doing. We love our children,” Childs said.