By JESSICA ABLE and RUBY THOMAS
Record Staff Writers
Three Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Louisville have been named 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools — St. Agnes School, 1920 Newburg Road; St. Aloysius School in Pewee Valley; and St. Raphael School, 2131 Lancashire Avenue.
The awards were announced Sept. 24 by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. They will be presented by the U.S. Department of Education at a virtual ceremony Nov. 12 and 13.
The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes public and private high, middle and elementary schools. St. Agnes, St. Aloysius and St. Raphael were honored as exemplary high performing schools, meaning they have the state’s highest achieving students, those in the top 15 percent, in English and mathematics as measured by a national assessment, a news release from the archdiocese said.
This is the fourth time St. Agnes has been recognized as a Blue Ribbon school. It was previously honored in 1999, 2005 and 2014. St. Agnes is the first elementary school in the archdiocese to receive the award four times.
This is the second time St. Aloysius will receive the award. It was previously recognized in 2014.
This is the third time St. Raphael has been named a Blue Ribbon school. It was previously honored in 1997 and 2003. St. Raphael was the first elementary school in the archdiocese to receive this award in 1997.
Julie Daly, St. Agnes’ principal, said “We’re thrilled just to continue the long history that the Sisters of Charity started at St. Agnes School of having high-quality education and developing kids in a holistic way. We’re just glad to be able to continue that tradition and do the best for students of today.”
Daly noted that St. Agnes has a “rigorous curriculum” and that the school has consistently maintained high standards and high achievement on standardized tests.
She said she is happy for the other winning schools.
“We’re happy for the other schools, our neighbor school St. Raphael School and St. Aloysius School in Pewee Valley. It’s exciting for Catholic schools to keep the tradition,” said Daly.
An in-person celebration will not be possible this year, because of the pandemic but Daly said the school will host a virtual celebration in November.
Maryann Hayslip, principal of St. Aloysius, said the honor means a great deal to the entire St. Aloysius community.
“It adds to the community-building atmosphere we have at St. Aloysius. When people tour our school, they often ask what sets us apart. The interwoven piece of community-building is one of our niches at St. Aloysius,” she said.
She said the recognition is the result of the whole school community: faculty, staff, parents and students.
“Across the board, we have good families, good teachers. All of us come together. We celebrate together, we mourn together, it’s just part of who we are — the fabric of our community spirit,” Hayslip said.
The school plans to hold a Spirit Week in November to coincide with the virtual award ceremony. Each day students will take part in themed days to celebrate the Blue Ribbon honor.
Jill Tabor, principal of St. Raphael, said she credits the national distinction to her dedicated teaching staff.
“Without the great teachers we have, our students would not have performed so well on the assessments. In order to qualify you have to meet certain benchmarks on the assessment data and without our fine teaching staff that wouldn’t be possible,” she said.
Tabor noted the school and parish have a lot of positive momentum right now and this award will help propel them further.
“We are in the midst of a capital campaign; we have a lot of great energy currently and are a growing community,” she said.
She also mentioned long-time principal Dr. Paul DeZarn, who served as principal for four decades. He died in 2015.
“Dr. DeZarn was here so many years. We are proud to carry on his legacy and so proud of this community,” she said.
St. Agnes, St. Aloysius and St. Raphael are among 10 public and non-public schools in the state of Kentucky to receive the Blue Ribbon distinction. In addition to St. Agnes and St. Raphael, two other schools in Jefferson County were recognized — Christian Academy of Louisville and duPont Manual High School. St. Aloysius was the only school in Oldham County to be honored. In total, the Department of Education honored 317 public and 50 non-public schools nationwide.
The Council for American Private Education administers the National Blue Ribbon Schools program for private schools on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education.
Five Catholic high schools and 14 other elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Louisville have previously received this distinction. They are Assumption High School, Mercy Academy, Sacred Heart Academy, St. Xavier High School and Trinity High School.
And, St. Albert the Great, Ascension, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Gabriel, Holy Spirit, Holy Trinity, Our Lady of Lourdes, Sacred Heart Model School, St. Margaret Mary, St. Mary Academy, St. Patrick, St. James in Elizabethtown, Ky., St. Joseph in Bardstown, Ky., and St. Dominic in Springfield, Ky.