Lucy V. Barnsley Elementary School was feeling blue on Tuesday, but in the best way.
Packed into the gymnasium, staff members and students clad in blue held an assembly to celebrate the Rockville school recently being named one of six Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools, an honor bestowed by the state Department of Education for high performance on state assessments in math and English.
“This is an honor you should be very proud of,” school board President Shebra Evans told students.
Barnsley, with an enrollment of approximately 750 kindergarten through fifth-grade students, has not received the award before.
Opened in 1966, Barnsley was the first school in Maryland named after a woman. More than 40% of its students are in poverty, English language learners or have a disability, according to school system data.
Barnsley is one of 12 Montgomery County schools considered a “center for enriched studies,” designed for students in fourth and fifth grade who learn at a faster pace and can handle advanced concepts, according to MCPS. It is a “specialty” program for which students can apply.
State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon on Tuesday also highlighted Barnsley’s deaf and hard of hearing sign language program, strong parent-teacher association, and band and choir programs as exceptional.
“I think you deserve to be a National Blue Ribbon School,” Salmon told students. “I’m going to keep my fingers crossed for you.”
The National Blue Ribbon Schools will be announced in the fall.
For being a Maryland Blue Ribbon School award recipient, Barnsley will receive $1,000 worth of classroom supplies, a “flag of excellence” to hang in the school, an interactive white board worth $7,000, and $2,000 from the state Department of Education.
Students will have a “cookie party” in the coming weeks to celebrate.
MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith spent time congratulating staff members for their commitment to ensuring students receive a quality education.
He was quick to remind students and staff members they weren’t randomly selected for the award.
“It’s not a prize. You didn’t win anything,” Smith said. “You earned it.”
Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford was also present for Tuesday’s assembly. He was more philosophical, reminding students that the education they’re receiving and decisions they’re making now “set the foundation” for the rest of their lives.
“You all continue to be good students, continue to read, continue to do your work because it will prepare you for the rest of your life,” he said.
Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at email@example.com