By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
The community of St. Gabriel the Archangel School, 5503 Bardstown Road, came together Nov. 12 to celebrate the school’s recognition as a 2015 U.S. National Blue Ribbon School.
Earlier in the week, representatives from the school and parish attended the official awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.
Pam Huelsman, principal of St. Gabriel, told those gathered in the school gymnasium that when you work hard for something “you need to finalize it with a celebration.”
And, that’s exactly what the teachers, students, staff, parents and members of the community did.
Lively music, thunderous cheering and blue-ribbon-themed decor filled the school’s gymnasium as the students were lauded for their hard-work.
“I hope you understand how prestigious this award is,” Huelsman told the students, noting that St. Gabriel, which has a student enrollment of 769 students, is among the top 15 percent of elementary schools in the nation overall.
Father John Schwartzlose, pastor of St. Gabriel, reminded the students of the special nature of Catholic schools.
“They infuse spirit. They infuse morals, faith, hope and reason: a divine reason for doing what we do and learning what we learn. Not for our glory, but for God be the glory,” Father Schwartzlose said.
Louisville Metro Councilman Robin Engel, a member of St. Gabriel, issued a proclamation from the council declaring Nov. 12, 2015, “St. Gabriel School day in Louisville.”
Other guests included Leisa Schulz, superintendent of Catholic schools; Shelley Spratt, congressional aid to U.S. Congressman John Yarmuth; and Tonya Swan of the Louisville Free Public Library.
Huelsman also made special mention of former St. Gabriel pastors — including Fathers John Stoltz and William D. Hammer — and past principals Alan Huelsman and Margaret Bowen. She also recognized teachers and staff, some of whom are retired, who volunteered their time for months to work on the school’s award application.
During the celebration, teachers received a blue carnation and then formed a Conga line and danced around the gym, led by the school mascot “Big G” — a blue and white leopard.
Students were rewarded with a week of no homework and no tests. They also received blue cotton candy and blue and gold T-shirts recognizing the school’s blue ribbon award. The students will be allowed to wear the T-shirts on Fridays for the rest of the school year.
St. Gabriel was one of four Archdiocese of Louisville elementary schools to be honored with the Blue Ribbon award this year. St. Albert the Great School, St. Mary Academy and St. Margaret Mary School also received the honor.