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Smithsburg Middle School Awarded National Blue Ribbon Honor

Posted September 19, 2023

Washington County Public Schools (WCPS) is proud to announce Smithsburg Middle School has been designated a 2023 National Blue Ribbon School. Deputy U.S. Secretary of Education Cindy Marten shared the news this afternoon in a video message on behalf of U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. 

Smithsburg Middle School is one of 353 schools recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2023. The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student groups on assessments.

WCPS Superintendent, Dr. David Sovine, says, “I’m extremely proud of the entire team at Smithsburg Middle School. Being recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School is a great honor that is only achieved through hard work, attention to detail, and a commitment to meeting each student where they are and helping them learn each day. All of the teachers, administrators, and education support professionals who serve the students at Smithsburg Middle are to be commended for this outstanding achievement.”

The National Blue Ribbon School award affirms and validates the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in striving for – and attaining – exemplary achievement. National Blue Ribbon Schools represent the full diversity of American schools and serve students of every background.

“We are honored to receive this award, which is a result of a deeply dedicated staff who have worked tirelessly to help our students grow and achieve,” adds Matt Hoffman, Principal of Smithsburg Middle. “Our intentional focus on literacy is a top priority and spans all content areas. Our teacher teams collaborate daily, ensuring high quality instruction is being provided to all students. Unequivocally, our staff's tremendous effort and ability to grow and strengthen relationships with our students makes a positive difference at Smithsburg Middle. Without these strong bonds, success would not be possible. Staff, students, and the community should be very proud of this achievement!”

While awardee schools represent the diverse fabric of American schools, they also share some core elements. 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. Families, communities, and educators work together toward common goals. 

“The honorees for our 2023 National Blue Ribbon Schools Award have set a national example for what it means to Raise the Bar in education,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “The leaders, educators, and staff at our National Blue Ribbon Schools continually inspire me with their dedication to fostering academic excellence and building positive school cultures that support students of all backgrounds to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. As the Biden-Harris Administration partners with states and schools to accelerate academic success and transform educational opportunity in this country, we take tremendous pride in the achievements of these schools and their commitment to empowering educators, serving students, and engaging families.” 

National Blue Ribbon Schools serve as models of effective and innovative school practices for state and district educators and other schools throughout the nation. A National Blue Ribbon School flag gracing a school’s entryway or on a flagpole is a widely recognized symbol of exemplary teaching and learning. 

The Department recognizes all schools in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, subgroup student scores, and graduation rates: 

  • Exemplary High-Performing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests. 

  • Exemplary Achievement Gap-Closing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s student groups and all students. Nominated schools also complete an extensive narrative application describing their school culture and philosophy, curriculum, assessments, instructional practices, professional development, leadership structures, and parent and community involvement. 

With its 40th cohort, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed approximately 10,000 awards to more than 9,700 schools. Other WCPS schools that previously earned the National Blue Ribbon School honor include: Boonsboro High School, Hancock Middle-Senior High School, Smithsburg High School, and Hickory Elementary School.

Smithsburg Middle School representatives are invited to attend the National Blue Ribbon School recognition ceremony in Washington, D.C. on November 16th and 17th. 

Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year. The Department invites nominations for the National Blue Ribbon Schools award from the top education official in all states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and the Bureau of Indian Education. Private schools are nominated by the Council for American Private Education.