Two schools in Warren receive national recognition

Published 4:04 pm Wednesday, September 20, 2023

By Michael J. Collins, Bowling Green Daily News

The Department of Education awarded two schools in Warren County the prestigious National Blue Ribbon Award for high-performing state assessment results.

Warren County Public Schools’ Drakes Creek Middle and Bowling Green Independent Schools’ Potter Gray Elementary were among seven Kentucky schools to receive the national award this week.

Potter Gray quickly organized an assembly Tuesday to announce the news to a crowd of antsy students, featuring confetti cannons and popsicles that elicited a roaring cheer.

“Let me put it into perspective – this is like our Super Bowl, this is like our World Series, this is like winning a state competition, just on a bigger level,” Principal Keith Brown told students. “There’s a lot of hard work that went into this.”

Brown said only “one-quarter of one percent” of schools receive this award, meaning you have better odds of making it as a professional athlete.

Potter Gray teachers and administration were proud to call this their second Blue Ribbon Award, a rare achievement across the country. They received their first award in 2009.

BGISD Superintendent Gary Fields, who served as principal of Potter Gray from 1999 to 2002, gushed about the success of the school, attributing it to dedicated staff, talented students and involved parents.

A lot has changed in the district since Potter Gray’s last award, but Fields said the passion has only grown.

“Fourteen years later, it’s a new generation of teachers, of principals, of leaders and families at the school,” Fields said. “We have a great community that supports the school district – the needs of teachers are met in the classroom and we have unbelievable parental involvement here at Potter Gray.”

Drakes Creek Middle’s former principal Daryl Woods, who served for 11 years before transitioning to a different role earlier this month, said the award is a result of “a common vision of student engagement and student success” across WCPS.

“It’s a testament to what can happen when you get 80 or so people focused on one mission and working together to make that happen,” Woods said. “And then, 700 great students who do their work every day and give their best effort and the parents that support us.”

Woods said the school’s exceptional reading and math proficiency levels likely played a role in the award process. Though plenty of work went in from educators and administrators, Woods said this is ultimately about student achievement.

“I really hope that our students take the honor and accept it, and then use it as motivation to continue the good work they’re doing,” Woods said.

Lauren Thurmond, WCPS communications coordinator, said the district is still planning how it will celebrate the award.

Bowling Green was the only city in the state to have two schools awarded this year. Schools from Lexington, Louisville, Mayfield, Russell and Villa Hills also received recognition.

Representatives from each school are invited to attend a ceremony in November in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the accomplishments.

The Department of Education each year invites 420 award nominations nationally from top education officials in all states. Private schools are nominated by the Council for American Private Education.

Nominated schools must submit applications detailing academic successes which are then reviewed by the department.

“The honorees for our 2023 National Blue Ribbon Schools Award have set a national example for what it means to raise the bar in education,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a release. “The leaders, educators and staff at our National Blue Ribbon Schools continually inspire me with their dedication to fostering academic excellence and building positive school cultures that support students of all backgrounds to thrive academically, socially and emotionally.”