Hilltop Primary named Blue Ribbon School
The Minnetrista school is one of 219 public and 50 private schools nationally named to award
The Minnetrista located Hilltop Primary was recently named a Blue Ribbon School, one of 269 schools in the nation earning the award in 2012.
Minnesota’s Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius nominated Hilltop Primary, one of seven schools in Minnesota that earned the Blue Ribbon award. United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan selected the Blue Ribbon schools by applications each had submitted after they were nominated.
Principal Nancy Benz said that she is honored Hilltop Primary was named to the small list.
“We are so excited,” she said. “It’s such a honor for our students, families and staff. To receive it is incredible.”
Schools can be nominated for the Blue Ribbon award in two different categories — Exemplary High Performing and Exemplary Improving. Benz said she thinks Hilltop Primary was nominated as an Exemplary High Performing School, which is a school that is one of the top of the state in “state assessments or nationally-normed tests.”
“I had to talk about the past five year’s test scores, both national and state,” she said.
Benz said that she also highlighted the schools great Parent Teacher Association (PTA), extra curricular activities and outdoor programs.
After earning the Blue Ribbon Award, Hilltop will be formally announced as winners along with the other 268 schools at a ceremony in Washington D.C. on Nov. 12 and 13. Nancy Benz and third grade teacher Kathryn Ireland will be in attendance representing Hilltop.
Ireland was nominated to go on the trip after being elected as a teacher representative by the Hilltop staff.
“It’s really exciting,” she said. “It was so great to hear that my colleagues elected me to go. Hilltop, it’s been my home away from home for the last 39 years.”
Ireland said another reason she is excited to go on the trip is to see the Washington D.C. area for the first time.
“It’s going to be great to meet other people in other districts,” she said. “I’m so excited to be there representing the district.”
The staff at Hilltop believes that their activities outside of the school are another reason they were nominated as a Blue Ribbon school. Mike Wallace, a Physical Education teacher at Hilltop Primary, said that students are able to go out and learn instead of just memorizing facts.
“Teachers aren’t just standing up there giving students facts, they get to go outside and do stuff,” he said. “The extra things we do really pays off.”
Wallace also said that the award represents many years of effort for the staff.
“As a teacher, I am proud for the continued excellence,” he said. “This wasn’t just one year of excellence, it was over five years. It is nice to hear some validation.”
Benz added that in November there will be a school-wide celebration with the students, staff and the PTA. Benz said the PTA was very helpful in earning the award as well.
“Hilltop has the greatest students, along with the greatest staff and community,” she said.
Minnesota Blue Ribbon Schools
Besides Hilltop Primary, six other schools were named as Blue Ribbon Schools. According to the United States Department of Education, those included Dassel Elementary School in Dassel, Humphrey Elementary School in Waverly, Normandale Elementary School in Edina, RTR Elementary School in Ruthton, Team Academy in Waseca, and Withrow Elementary School in Hugo.