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Two Northwest Indiana schools among 12 in Indiana named National Blue Ribbon winners

Kindergarteners Morgan Township Elementary School were among students raising money for Heifer International spring. The school was named National Blue

Kindergarteners at Morgan Township Elementary School were among the students raising money for Heifer International in the spring. The school was named a National Blue Ribbon School on Tuesday. | Post-Tribune File Photo

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Updated: October 26, 2013 6:32AM



Two Northwest Indiana elementary schools were named National Blue Ribbon Schools on Tuesday.

Morgan Township Elementary School in Valparaiso and Jonas Salk Elementary School in Merrillville were recognized for their overall academic excellence along with 10 other Indiana schools. Nationwide, 286 schools received the distinction in two performance categories: exemplary high performing or exemplary improving.

The schools will be recognized at a ceremony Nov. 18-19 in Washington, D.C. Schools are nominated by their state department of education or similar governing body.

Both Northwest Indiana schools among the top performers on ISTEP+, sporting student pass rates of more than 85 percent on both the math and English/language arts portions of the exam.

Morgan Township principal Michelle Friesen-Carper was thrilled by the news.

“It’s an honor to be seen as one of the best schools not only in Indiana but in the nation,” Friesen-Carper said.

She said it’s an absolute team effort — from parents to cafeteria workers — to get students ready to learn.

“It’s a lot of hard work, which is a credit to everyone,” Friesen-Carper said. “The award looks not only at academic achievement, but in other areas where we are very proud. We are fortunate that we have parents who want to participate, and not just those who are at home. Parents will take time off work and re-arrange their work schedules to participate in their children’s classrooms.”

Superintendent Rod Gardin marked the occasion by sending a balloon bouquet that will be on display in the school cafeteria.

Salk principal Michelle Hellwege said the school’s committed staff, students and their families all contributed to the success.

“Our staff work so hard everyday and they are just committed to ensuring our students succeed on a daily basis,” Hellwege said. “We work hard to build relationships with our families. They are welcome in our building and we open up the lines of communication, sharing what we’re learning and our expectations.”

Merrillville officials worked hard to keep the news under wraps, until former principal Kara Bonin — now director of elementary education for Merrillville schools — informed the staff around 7:30 a.m. Hellwege said a school-wide celebration is in the works.



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