A recognition worthy of a Blue Ribbon… West Side Elementary faculty, staff treated to luncheon, visit from Congressman Roe

Published 9:52 pm Wednesday, October 14, 2020

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Wednesday afternoon was a special day for the faculty and staff at West Side Elementary School as they were treated to a luncheon provided and served by the Elizabethton City School Administration in recognition for the school being named only one of seven National Blue Ribbon schools in the state of Tennessee.

On hand to help celebrate the occasion was First District Congressman Dr. Phil Roe and district director Bill Darden.

In a previous letter to the school, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said, “Congratulations to this year’s National Blue Ribbon School awardees. It’s a privilege to recognize the extraordinary work you do to meet students’ needs and prepare them for successful careers and meaningful lives.”

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According to the letter the coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools award affirms the hard work of educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.

Now in its 38th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed almost 10,000 awards to more than 9,000 schools, with some schools winning multiple awards. Schools are eligible for nomination after five years.

School Principal John Wright opened the ceremony to honor his faculty and staff.

“Today is not just a celebration of a single event or individual – it’s a celebration for the accomplishment of the communities and the families,” said Wright. “Both of my children came here and grew and learned as part of the West Side family of learning.”

Director of Schools Richard VanHuss greeted those who were being celebrated for their achievement and told them that in a year where there hasn’t be much to celebrate that the faculty and staff of West Side Elementary had been bright stars.

“I am proud of you and the work that you are doing,” said VanHuss. “I am a proud West Side graduate in 1983 and I know firsthand what a great school it has been for many, many years, and the positive impact it had on my life.

“Through your efforts, you have raised the bar higher for teachers and students at West Side for years to come and you are having the same positive impact on your students as West Side did for me years ago.”

Congressman Roe took the floor and reminded the school how hard it was to be recognized for such an honor as being recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School.

“Let me just sort of tell you how big this award really is,” said Congressman Roe. “There are 100,000 schools in the United States and only about 337 schools were picked to receive this recognition.

“There are 1883 schools in the state of Tennessee and only seven were selected for this award. This award happens because of a team effort and I am talking about everybody.”

Congressman Roe said that he had spoken with Senator Marsha Blackburn and Senator Lamar Alexander and both had sent their congratulations to the school as well.

Dr. Tammy Markland shared with those in attendance the reason that she went back to school and became an educator was because of the way her own children had been taught when they came through West Side Elementary.

“I watched as you poured your heart and soul into every student that passed through the school,” said Dr. Markland. “You not only tell students they can do something but you believe that they can.”

Each faculty and staff member was presented with a plaque to commemorate the school being named a Blue Ribbon School.