Kettering school named national Blue Ribbon winner

First graders work on assignments at Orchard Park Elementary school in Kettering on March 2, 2021. Orchard Park was named a National Blue Ribbon School for 2021.
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First graders work on assignments at Orchard Park Elementary school in Kettering on March 2, 2021. Orchard Park was named a National Blue Ribbon School for 2021.

Credit: Jeremy P. Kelley

Credit: Jeremy P. Kelley

Orchard Park Elementary is one of only 16 honorees in Ohio

Kettering’s Orchard Park Elementary is one of 325 schools in the nation recognized Tuesday as a Blue Ribbon School for 2021 by the U.S. Department of Education.

North of Dayton, Minster Elementary and its neighbor Marion Local Elementary in Maria Stein, were also among the 16 Ohio schools to win the national honor.

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All three were recognized in the Blue Ribbon system as “exemplary high-performing schools” for being among the state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.

Kettering Superintendent Scott Inskeep said he “couldn’t be prouder,” calling Orchard Park a great school where staff, students and families work together and support each other.

“This is a true testament to everyone associated with Orchard Park — from the principal to the teachers and support staff to the students, themselves — that dedication, commitment and hard work can result in quality student achievement.”

Kettering and Minster have won these awards before. Minster’s junior/senior high school was named a Blue Ribbon School in 2019, while Kettering’s Indian Riffle Elementary won the honor in 2018. The other two local schools to win the honor in the past five years are the Dayton Regional STEM School (2019) and Waynesville Elementary (2017).

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The Blue Ribbon Schools program requires a detailed application addressing staffing ratios, special education rates, student turnover, poverty and other data. This year, it also required an explanation of how the school addressed education amid the COVID shutdowns. The school must meet academic indicators, and have no testing irregularities or state/federal violations.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said Blue Ribbon schools create welcoming and affirming school cultures “where rich teaching and learning can flourish.”

“I commend all our Blue Ribbon honorees for working to keep students healthy and safe while meeting their academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs,” Cardona said. “In the face of unprecedented circumstances, you found creative ways to engage, care for, protect, and teach our children.”