Photo: Steve Thurston
Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and a host of political luminaries lauded the achievements of Arlington Traditional School, its principal, teachers, students and families today.
In a ceremony that lasted well under an hour, Duncan presented Principal Holly Hawthorne with a certificate recognizing ATS as a “2012 National Blue Ribbon School,” an award given to only 269 schools. ATS was the only northern Virginia school to have won the award. The school last won the award in 2004.
“This is an amazing, amazing school,” Duncan said. He said that all the great schools he has seen have had great principals running them, and that was no different at ATS and principal Holly Hawthorne.
The award was developed to showcase schools that might be held up for best practices for other schools to follow. ATS has a wealth of teaching success as well as strong extracurricular and afterschool programming, Duncan said.
Despite the tight economy, Duncan said he is very hopeful that the educational success of the country will build.
“I know we can continue to improve academically. It’s not something I’m going to do, or the president’s going to do. It’s going to be because of the hard working teachers and parents and principals and most importantly hard, hard working students,” Duncan said.
That theme was echoed by Superintendent Patrick Murphy, U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8), and Principal Hawthorne.
"The winning combinaiton is great teachers and great students, congratulations," Hawthorne said, to a round of applause. "And the third part of the winning combination is all these great parents out there."
Duncan has two children, 8 and 10, who attend Arlington Science Focus. His children either walk or are driven to school, he said, and had no opinion on the Arlington Public School’s newly-enforced busing plan.
A couple hundred students, teachers and parents filled the ATS gym for the awards.
On the stage with Duncan and Hawthorne were U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, state Senator Barbara Favola, Delegate Pat Hope, Virginia Board of Education President Dave Foster, Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey, school board Vice Chair Sally Baird, Superintendent Patrick Murphy, ATS’s teacher of the year Lynn O’Grady, and fifth grader Paul Valasco.