Imagine having to keep great news a secret for a few weeks. That’s what Hammond Hill Elementary School Principal Janet Vaughan had to do.
Vaughan found out a few weeks ago that the school was going to be recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School, but couldn’t let anyone in on the news until Friday, when it was officially announced to the school.
“It was hard,” she said of keeping the secret. “It was such exciting news.”
As pupils watched in their classroom on SMART Boards on Friday, Vaughan and Dr. Elizabeth Everitt, superintendent of Aiken County Public Schools, announced that the school is one of five in South Carolina to receive the award from the U.S. Department of Education.
The South Carolina Department of Education nominated the school for the award last fall. Schools chosen for the award must have an enrollment where at least 40 percent of its students come from disadvantaged backgrounds and show a significant increase in test scores in English language arts and math and/or achieve in the top 10 percent of schools in the state, according to a news release from the state department.
“I’m overjoyed,” said Vaughan. “We’re excited and very proud of our students’ and our teachers’ hard work. It validates that what we’re doing is working. We have something great going on here.”
In celebration of receiving the award, pupils were served blue cotton candy ice cream from Bruster’s and had a chance to play on inflatables.
Vaughan and Everitt will travel to Washington, D.C., Nov. 12-13 to receive the Blue Ribbon School flag and plaque. About 300 schools in the country will be honored during the ceremony.
Other South Carolina schools recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School this year include: Forestbrook Elementary, Horry County School District; Oak Grove Elementary, Lexington School District One; South Kilbourne Elementary, Richland School District One; and Marrington Middle, Berkeley County School District.