Grand Rapids School Receives Blue Ribbon Award

By KBJR News 1

September 21, 2010 Updated Sep 21, 2010 at 7:40 PM CDT

Southwest Elementary has received a Blue Ribbon Award.

Student body background and standardized test scores are some the criteria for the award,and the progressive attitude at this school is one of many factors helping this school to stand out.

Whether it's learning patterns with foam,nor making snakes out of Play–Dough,

Students at Southwest Elementary in Grand Rapids are always busy.
And now both the busy hands of both students and teachers have been recognized.

"Considering there are around 132,000 schools in the nation, to be one of only about 300 in the nation and then only one of 6 in Minnesota to be recognized it's a great honor."

Ken DeCoster is the principal at Southwest and says the self motivated staff at the school is one of the main reasons Southwest was recognized for the work they do.

"What we have going on is that a lot of teachers are looking at personal goals, growth goals, moving forward with staff development. They're a very progressive bunch," said DeCoster.

Southwest was nominated for the award by the 'Improving Schools' criteria.

That means at least 40% of their student body comes from disadvantaged backgrounds, and the schools performance levels are still high on both state and national standardized tests.

DeCoster says the history of high tests scores in the school shows that the good work goes far beyond the school setting.

"There's a lot that happens at school but its more than just a school initiative. It's good things happening at the school, around the district, in the community, and in the home," said DeCoster.

Superintendent for ISD #318 Joe Silko says an award like this speaks volumes, not just the school, but the entire district as well.

"Southwest is very representative of what we are doing in all of our buildings. We're very proud of the achievements of Southwest, but it's an indicator that what we are doing for kids in a K through four building are at a high level; a level that can compare not only at state level but at a nation level," said Silko.

Silko also says it's the cumulative efforts of present and past teachers and students that has helped Southwest rise to the top.

"The whole award is a tribute to not only the staff and students that are here, but the staff and students that have come before, because the tradition of excellence in academics in Southwest if very high," said Silko/

In November representatives from Southwestern Elementary School will join with other selected schools to be honored in Washington D.C.