St. Francis of Assisi celebrates ‘Blue Ribbon’

St. Francis of Assisi School students, from left, Todd Nieman, Ben Kenney, Woody Schoenbachler and Elliott Leib, tied blue ribbon on the railing of the school entrance in September. The Highlands school was named a 2016 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. (Photo Special to The Record)

St. Francis of Assisi School students, from left, Todd Nieman, Ben Kenney, Woody Schoenbachler and Elliott Leib, tied blue ribbon on the railing of the school entrance in September. The Highlands school was named a 2016 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. (Photo Special to The Record)

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

Administrators of St. Francis of Assisi School attended the National Blue Ribbon Schools program last week in Washington, D.C., where they formally accepted the school’s National Blue Ribbon School award.

St. Francis of Assisi and St. Xavier High School were both named U.S. Department of Education 2016 National Blue Ribbon Schools. St. Xavier will celebrate the award locally next month.

To commemorate the national award, the St. Francis of Assisi parish community hosted a Blue Ribbon Bash Nov. 12 with Mass followed by dinner and a presentation.

Steve Frommeyer, principal of St. Francis of Assisi, said the Blue Ribbon distinction was a “public affirmation we’ve all felt for a long time” and the parish celebration was a perfect way to recognize all those who had a part in shaping the school.

Paula Do, a third-grade teacher, expressed similar thoughts and said the award signifies what the St. Francis of Assisi community has long felt about the school.

“It’s a public recognition of what we know about the school, that we are all about service, faith and academics,” said Do, who has taught at the Highlands school for 34 years.

Do also noted the dedication of the faculty, staff and parents.

“The faculty work really well together. They are willing to put the time in,” she said. “We have such good parent involvement in every aspect. The kids know each other. The teachers know the kids. Because we are small, we know them from kindergarten on up.”

The school — located at Bardstown Road and Alfresco Place — has 260 students in preschool through eighth-grade. There are 25 faculty members, including 17 full-time teachers and eight part-time aides and other instructional assistants.

Mariam Ballantine, vice-chair of St. Francis of Asissi’s school board, said the small size of the school allows teachers and administrators to go “above and beyond.”

“If students need help with an outside professional, teachers will attend meetings with that expert and then tailor classes” to suit the student’s needs, she said.

Ballantine also noted many teachers accompany eighth-graders on high school visits to ensure the student finds the “best fit.”

Frommeyer said his goal is to produce students with a “well-rounded education.”

“They learn a lot about compassion through our social justice programs — Heart Paths and Committee on Conscience,” he said, noting that each grade learns about a different group of vulnerable people, such as persons with disabilities or the homeless.

Do said students become comfortable interacting with people on the margins of society through the school’s social justice programs.

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