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Mesa Verde Elementary School earns Blue Ribbon School designation

National award is based on data taken from state assessments
Mesa Verde Elementary School received a Blue Ribbon Award this week. Students were informed of the award and what it means at an outdoor assembly. (Morgan Mitchell/Durango Herald)

FARMINGTON – Mesa Verde Elementary School has been named a Blue Ribbon School, making it the second school in Farmington’s history to earn the distinction and only the third this year in New Mexico.

The Blue Ribbon Program “recognizes outstanding public and non-public schools,” according to its website. The program recognizes schools in separate categories. Within the public school category are the subcategories of “exemplary high performing” and “exemplary achievement gap closing.”

Mesa Verde achieved Blue Ribbon status under the exemplary high performing category.

The schools are selected based on data taken from state assessments. The scores in English and math are observed over the last five years and those in the top 15% are awarded Blue Ribbon status under that classification.

Eugene Schmidt, superintendent of Farmington Municipal Schools, attended Wednesday’s announcement ceremony at the elementary school.

“It is a great day for Mesa Verde Elementary, their community and the entire school district of Farmington as we celebrate the announcement by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona that Mesa Verde has been named a national 2021 Blue Ribbon School,” Schmidt said.

He added this made Mesa Verde Elementary School the second school in Farmington’s history to be awarded the Blue Ribbon Award, which dates back to more than 118 years.

“Importantly, the recognition comes to our elementary for being an exemplary high performing school,” Schmidt said. “... So what these students and staff did was, dating back to 2017 into the 2020s, show improvement in their academic performance by all of the subgroups as they closed that achievement gap even tighter across the school. So really it is a very big achievement.”

Pam Schritter, principal of Mesa Verde Elementary, said getting the award was humbling. Teachers and students showed grit and perseverance working through the pandemic.

Pam Schritter, principal at Mesa Verde Elementary School, and Superintendent Eugene Schmidt tell students that Mesa Verde was named a Blue Ribbon School. (Morgan Mitchell/Durango Herald)

“I’m just so proud of them because they’ve worked so hard and they have that one goal and it’s that dedication to the kids and I think that’s what makes the school so great, and this award (is) something so special because they worked so hard,” Schritter said.

She added that teachers never ask for recognition, but just did it for the kids.

“That’s why I do what I do,” she said. “I feel like I was put here for a purpose and I’m here to fulfill that purpose and make a difference.”

Schmidt said Mesa Verde’s recognition will provide a “road map” for other schools. The district plans to go back and look at what staff members and leadership did to make it happen.

“This is a hardworking staff and a great school; they have great expectations of their kids, they look to leadership from principal Schritter, it’s a nice story of success,” Schmidt said. “I’m very proud of them.”

mmitchell@durangoherald.com

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