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Special to The Dallas Examiner

The auditorium full of sixth through eighth graders erupted in cheers and applause when the slide declaring Harry Stone Montessori and IB World School as a National Blue Ribbon School appeared on the screen.

Avery Rose, who has attended Stone for nine years, talked about the honor, prestige and hard work to get there. He said a blue ribbon evokes thoughts of winners and first place, but in his school’s case, it also denotes a culture of excellence.

“We’ve always known great things were happening at Stone,” he said. “Now the world knows it, too.”

Meanwhile, teachers and students at Trinidad “Trini” Garza Early College High School at Mountain View College celebrated finding out about their school’s Blue Ribbon status by dancing with the school’s mascot and waving pompoms in the air.

The Blue Ribbon status is one of the most prestigious recognitions in education. The program recognizes schools across the nation for their academic excellence or for making exemplary progress in closing the achievement gap.

“Dallas ISD continues to work to raise the bar on student achievement. Garza ECHS and Harry Stone are excellent examples of the strides we are making, and we’re very proud of them,” Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said. “Both schools are meeting the expectation we have for all our campuses: to ensure all students are excelling regardless of background. They are setting the bar high. This is a honor that is well-deserved.”

In a video statement, the U.S. secretary of education told the 335 schools named 2015 National Blue Ribbon winners that the honor recognizes the students’ accomplishments and the hard work and dedication that went into their success.

“Your journey has taught you collaboration, intentional instruction, and strong relationships in school and with your community,” he said. “You represent excellence – in vision, in implementation, and in results – and we want to learn as much as we can from you.”

Harrison Blair, from Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson’s office, read a recognition from the official. Student performances – from the orchestra, mixed choir and a trio of piano players – rounded out the special celebration. Because Stone serves grades kindergarten through eighth, and the auditorium is too small to accommodate everyone, a second event was conducted afterward for the younger students.

“What I want you to realize is that Harry Stone has such a rich legacy,” said Principal Nichole Brooks.

Lisa Curry, who had served as principal at Stone from 2008 to 2015, said the school’s recognition is no surprise.

“When we started this journey seven years ago, would we have imagined we’d be celebrating becoming a National Blue Ribbon school?” she asked. “Yes.”

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