On Thursday, September 13th, District 14 Superintendent Alicja Winnicki returned to PS 34 to announce that her former school had earned the 2012 “Blue Ribbon” award for excellence from the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE). Winnicki, who left 34 for her new post earlier this month, was joined by Assemblyman Joe Lentol, teachers and parents to celebrate the prestigious honor granted to only five schools, public and private, in New York City.
“Your school is the model of excellence that will inspire others,” Winnicki read from a letter from USDOE Secretary Arne Duncan congratulating the award winners. “We make every effort to ensure that every child achieves at high academic levels,” the Superintendent added. “We will keep it this way, too.”
Winnicki was quick to point out the roles played by the parents and teachers in earning the Blue Ribbon. “This is a true community,” she said referring to parents that have had students at PS 34 for years and new parents who have gotten involved with the school. However, she noted, “This award truly belongs to the teachers at PS 34. It’s their hard work, creativity and leadership that brought the school to be recognized on the national level.”
PS 34 will take part in a recognition ceremony at the White House, this November. The school will receive a plaque and a flag from the President, signifying their status as National Blue Ribbon Schools. According to the USDOE, “A National Blue Ribbon Schools flag waving overhead has become a trademark of excellence, a symbol of quality recognized by everyone from parents to policy-makers in thousands of communities.”
City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott congratulated the honorees, saying it “reflected the hard work our students, teachers and principals have been doing to continue to raise the bar. We have high expectations for all our students and these awards show that when we expect success, our students will perform at high levels.”
“I know, without having to see a blue ribbon award, just from going to the classrooms, the kind of quality that’s here teaching the kids at 34,” said Lentol. The Assemblyman was visibly proud at the achievement by the local school for which he has advocated throughout his career. “This should have happened naturally because of your leadership. Of course, your teachers need to be congratulated and the parents for participating in the education of their kids,” he told Winnicki.
The gathering was also a coming out party, of sorts, for new PS 34 Principal Carmen Asselta, who met many of the parents for the first time.