St. Xavier named Blue Ribbon School

Paul Colistra, president of St. Xavier High School, left, and Preston Dean, a St. Xavier senior, stood together during a press conference Sept. 20 to announce the school had earned the 2023 National Blue Ribbon distinction. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

St. Xavier High School was named a 2023 National Blue Ribbon School for the fifth time on Sept. 19 by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.

St. Xavier is one of seven schools in Kentucky — and one of two non-public schools in the state — to receive the designation this year. Villa Madonna Academy Elementary School in the Diocese of Covington also earned the distinction.

Paul Colistra, St. Xavier’s president, says he attributes the honor to the school’s commitment to “academic excellence” starting with its foundation in 1864 by the Xaverian Brothers.

The school has faced significant challenges in recent years, he noted, including the sudden death of its long-time president, Dr. Perry E. Sangalli, in May of 2019 followed by the pandemic in 2020.

Through all the transitions, Colistra said, “We never lost our true north, which has always been true excellence in the classroom.” 

According to a press release from the Department of Education, “National Blue Ribbon School leaders articulate a vision of excellence and hold everyone to high standards. They demonstrate effective and innovative teaching and learning, and the schools value and support teachers and staff through meaningful professional learning. 

“Data from many sources are used to drive instruction and every student strives for success,” it explained. “Families, communities, and educators work together toward common goals.”

Colistra said the school’s academic leadership team “has been relentless in what we do.” And Principal Amy Sample’s academic leadership was instrumental in the school earning its fifth Blue Ribbon designation, he said. 

“She wanted teachers to know how good they’re doing and she wanted the community to know how good the school is,” he said. Sample is the first woman to serve as principal in the school’s 160-year history, he noted.

Preston Dean, a St. Xavier High School senior, spoke during a press conference Sept. 20. Moments earlier, the school’s president Paul Colistra announced that St. Xavier had earned the 2023 National Blue Ribbon distinction. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

He also credited teachers, whom he said are committed to providing an “excellent quality” of education. 

Colistra noted that St. Xavier’s recent efforts to make the school a place for all levels of learners didn’t go unnoticed by the U.S. Department of Education and its National Blue Ribbon Schools Program. 

“The U.S. Department of Education is much more interested recently in how schools are closing the academic gap,” he said. While they’re still looking at academic performance, they are also asking, “‘ What are you doing for all the students you serve?’ ” he said.

While St. Xavier is still attracting some of the “highest levels of learners,” the school has also been intentional about serving all levels of learners, he said. The school has invested in resources, learning specialists and a Learning Support Center to ensure all students reach their potential, he said. 

“That’s probably the most exciting part and why it feels different this time,” Colistra said.

 St. Xavier was previously named a Blue Ribbon School in 1984, 1989, 1993 and 2016.

The Department of Education said that “National Blue Ribbon Schools serve as models of effective and innovative school practices for state and district educators and other schools throughout the nation.”

Ruby Thomas
Written By
Ruby Thomas
More from Ruby Thomas
Trinity senior earns perfect ACT score
Jeremy Borden, a senior at Trinity High School, has earned a perfect...
Read More
0 replies on “St. Xavier named Blue Ribbon School”