BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - McKinley Middle School was one of only five schools in the state to receive the 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools Award and the only school in this area of the state to be recognized for this national distinction.
In all, the U.S. Department of Education recognized 269 schools across the United States this month as 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools based on their overall academic excellence or for making progress in improving student academic achievement levels. The 219 public and 50 private schools will be honored by the Department at a recognition ceremony November 12-13 in Washington, D.C.
"It's a very special award that not very many schools have. And I know not many schools in Louisiana have won it twice," said Mitchell Boyle, an 8th grader.
EBRPSS' nine Blue Ribbon Schools are: Baton Rouge Magnet High – 1983 and 2003, Forest Heights Academy of Excellence (elementary) - 2008, Glasgow Middle - 2007, McKinley Middle – 1984 (and now 2012), Northeast Elementary (1994), Ryan Elementary - 2010, Shenandoah Elementary - 2006, Sherwood Middle
Academic Magnet – 2009 and Westdale Heights Academic Magnet (elementary) - 2008.
Under the leadership of Principal Herman R. Brister, McKinley Middle Academic Magnet School is a visual and performing arts Magnet school offering an academically focused program for college-bound students. It is the only middle school in the district that offers advanced academic programs with an integrated arts program, and its School Performance Score has increased from 101 to 121 over the past four years. McKinley Middle School's awards include the state's High Performing/High Poverty Schools Award for 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012; the Magnet Schools of America School of Distinction Award for 2006 and 2012; and recognitions by the state for Exemplary Growth and Academic Growth, both in 2009. It features a wide range of instructional opportunities offering:
- High School Credit Courses: Spanish I, French I, Algebra 1, Geometry, Intro to Business Computer Applications and Physical Science
- An Award-Winning Visual Arts Program: Art, Arts & Crafts, Drawing and Painting, Stage Craft Design, TV/Film Productions, Writing for Media, Creative Writing with Arts Integration and Web Design
- An Award-Winning Performing Arts Program: Drama, Musical Theatre, Dance, Ballet, Choir, Strings, Piano and Band
- Talented Services: Talented Art, Talented Drama and Talented Music
- Facility: Ultra Modern Theater, Dance Studio and classrooms specifically built for the enhancement of the arts
- International and National Travel: Students have traveled to Rome, Greece, London, Paris and Spain. This school year, the students will travel to Beijing and, domestically, to Washington, D.C.; New York; Orlando; Atlanta; and Houston.
"We believe in educating the whole child," said Principal Herman Brister. "We have used that to our advantage and to try to expose our students in every shape, or fashion."
"McKinley Middle School exemplifies the best in our local public education system -- from its hard-working students and highly qualified teachers to its strong and caring school leaders and supportive parents and community members," said Dr. Bernard Taylor, Jr., EBRPSS' superintendent. "It has shown what we can accomplish when we all work together to provide children the best education possible. I congratulate the Mr. Brister and his staff on a job well done and thank them for their dedication and service to the children of East Baton Rouge Parish."
Teachers say they are happy to, once again, showcase their efforts to people all around the country.
"They are working, our parents are working, the community is working for that end result to get these kids to a point where so many may not expect them to go," said Gloria Carter, an English teacher at McKinley Middle.