Saint Ignatius Loyola School ~ A Blue Ribbon School!

From Mary E. Larkin, Principal

Saint Ignatius Loyola School
A Blue Ribbon School

As the principal of Saint Ignatius Loyola School, I have found many reasons over the course of the 2011–2012 school year to celebrate, such as when one of the youngest members of our school community stopped shedding tears upon arriving for school, when an emergent reader mastered a challenging story, and when we were gathered in the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola to celebrate Mass as a school community and the sounds of the children’s voices were raised high in prayer, already adept at the responses of the new Roman Missal.

Our celebration started early in the school year, when I was informed by the United States Department of Education that Saint Ignatius Loyola School had been designated a National Blue Ribbon School 2011.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools whose students achieve success at very high levels or whose significant progress has helped close gaps in achievement, especially among disadvantaged and minority students. Since 1982, the U.S. Department of Education has sought out schools whose students attain and maintain high academic goals. 

Our application process began in October 2010 when I was informed that Saint Ignatius Loyola School’s Iowa Test of Basic Skills scores were in the top 10% nationally.  To advance in the process, we had to complete a detailed self-study of all aspects of the school.  One year ago, in January 2011, The Council for American Private Education (CAPE) informed me that based on their review of our application, they were nominating us for Blue Ribbon status.  This was no guarantee that we would be recognized as a Blue Ribbon School.  After months of review by the Department of Education, I was informed on September 14, 2011 that we had been awarded this highly coveted status.

The e-mail I received stated that U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, had named 304 schools in the nation as National Blue Ribbon Schools, 49 of which were private schools.  Saint Ignatius Loyola School is one of only two Catholic schools in New York State to be so recognized.

In November, Father George Witt, our pastor, Ms. Rosalie Savarese, the assistant principal, Mrs. Sharon Abruzzo, the development director, and I traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the Blue Ribbon Ceremony.  In my four year tenure as the principal of Saint Ignatius Loyola, I have had countless reasons to be proud of our accomplishments.  Accepting this in our nation’s capital was my proudest moment yet.  I wished the entire school community could have been there with us. 

At a time when there is much change taking place in the Archdiocese of New York and Catholic schools have been forced to close due to low enrollment or lack of funding, Saint Ignatius Loyola School remains a vibrant, faith-filled learning environment. The School currently enrolls 540 students, 95% of whom are Catholic. 

Saint Ignatius Loyola School’s continued success does not occur in a vacuum.  It is achieved through the hard work of the administration, teachers, and students, as well as through the numerous sacrifices made by the parents. 

As I look ahead to the future for Saint Ignatius Loyola School, I am committed to uphold the high standards that are in place and have distinguished us as worthy of Blue Ribbon status.  In this ever changing world of education, it is important to seek out innovations that will enhance the school’s curriculum while allowing us to remain true to the tenets of our academic programs and at the same time, reaffirm the spirituality that is at the essence of the school’s mission. 

As we celebrate Catholic Schools, we are blessed that Saint Ignatius Loyola School continues its 157th year of fostering the Catholic faith and imparting a love of learning to our students.

From the office of Mr. Arne Duncan, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education:

“America’s long-term economic prosperity and civic engagement depends on our children receiving a world-class education,” Duncan said.  “National Blue Ribbon Schools are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers.  Their success is an example for others to follow.”

The National Blue Ribbon School award honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students achieve at high levels or where the achievement gap is narrowing.  Since 1982, more than 6,500 of America’s schools have received this coveted award.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, honors public and private schools based on one of two criteria: 1) Schools whose students are high performing.  These are schools ranked among each state’s highest performing schools as measured by their performance on state assessments or, in the case of private schools, that score at the highest performance level on nationally normed tests; or 2) Schools with at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds that improve student performance to high levels as measured by the school’s performance on state assessments or nationally-normed tests.

Before selecting National Blue Ribbon Schools, the Department asks for nominations from the top education official in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, the Department of Defense Education Activity and the Bureau of Indian Education. The Council for American Private Education (CAPE) nominates private schools. A total of 413 schools nationwide are nominated, based on the number of K-12 students and the number of schools in each jurisdiction. The schools are invited by the Secretary of Education to submit an application for possible recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School.