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Officials celebrate Gussner’s designation as 2023 Blue Ribbon School – Jamestown Sun

JAMESTOWN — Many people deserve recognition for William S. Gussner Elementary School’s designation as a National Blue Ribbon School for the second time in 10 years, according to Sen. John Hoeven, RN.D.

Hoeven said about 350 out of about 130,000 K-12 schools in the country are designated as National Blue Ribbon schools.

“You all made it twice,” he said. “It’s a big deal.”

William S. Gussner Elementary students, faculty and staff packed the gymnasium on Monday, May 6, to celebrate the school’s designation as a 2023 National Blue Ribbon School. Jamestown Public School Board members, school district administrators, local legislators and past members of Gussner Elementary School’s staff and faculty were also in attendance.

It really does take all of us to be successful in something like this.

Luke Anderson, principal, William S. Gussner Elementary School, referring to the support from area legislators, school board members, administrators, faculty, staff, students and families

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes elementary, middle and high schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups, according to the US Department of Education’s website.

Hoeven presented the school with a US flag that was flown over the Capitol in Washington, DC

Hoeven said it takes great teachers and support from administrators, school boards and legislators to make North Dakota schools the best in the country. He said the state Legislature funds public schools, parents serve on school boards to ensure good curriculums, and administrators work to have good teachers in their districts.

“All of those things go into a Blue Ribbon School,” he said. “Then once all those things are in place, then we got to have students doing a great job.”

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William S. Gussner Elementary School students, faculty and staff along with members of the Jamestown Public School board and District 12 legislators were in attendance to celebrate the school’s designation as a 2023 National Blue Ribbon School.

Kathy Steiner/The Jamestown Sun

Gussner Elementary School has 244 students in grades preK-5.

Gussner Elementary School Principal Luke Anderson thanked area legislators, school board members, administrators, faculty, staff, students and families.

“It really does take all of us to be successful in something like this,” he said.

Anderson said after the event that having community support for the school district helped Gussner Elementary School achieve Blue Ribbon status twice in the past 10 years.

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Sen. John Hoeven, RN.D., engages with William s. Gussner Elementary School students during an event to celebrate the school’s designation as a 2023 National Blue Ribbon School.

Kathy Steiner/The Jamestown Sun

“Our families here have been truly invested in what they are doing,” he said.

Anderson also said continuity of Gussner’s teaching staff is a large part of its success.

“Having teachers that have dedicated their lives to educating kids, that’s probably the biggest thing,” he said.

Superintendent Rob Lech said the school district is proud of its students, teachers, support staff and the community.

“There’s just such a commitment to kids, a commitment to learning, and I think that really makes a difference at Gussner but really across the district,” he said. “We see that same level of support and commitment really in all of our schools and we feel really blessed to have the people and a community that supports education and the teachers and support staff that are working so hard.”

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Jennifer Odell, state coordinator for the Blue Ribbon Schools Program and communications officer for the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, speaks about the community support that contributes to student success.

Masaki Ova / The Jamestown Sun

Each year, about 20 North Dakota schools are eligible to be considered a Blue Ribbon School, said Jennifer Odell, state coordinator for the Blue Ribbon Schools Program and communications director for the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.

“It is the highest percentage in overall performance of schools that we can look at every year,” she said. “When we look at the qualifications that the national level gives us, the list dwindles to really about a dozen schools every year that can be considered so it is a really, really big deal.”

Odell said Blue Ribbon School leaders hold everyone to the highest standards.

“They stay close to the real action of teaching and learning,” she said. “…Faculty are supported by mentoring and professional development and they have time to coordinate their work. All staff members are part of this school team. Families and educators work together in trust. And most importantly, students remain the top priority regardless of any barriers to learning.”

Masaki Ova

Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, ND He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, ND