Colonial Elementary School students explained the school’s new “House System” during the Botetourt School Board’s September meeting. Students and staff were assigned to one of four “Houses” for the school year to encourage character development and building school community. Photo by Ed McCoy

Colonial Elementary School Principal Tammy Riggs will travel to Washington, D.C. November 7 and 8 where the school will be honored as one of the 2018 National Blue Ribbon Schools in the country.

Colonial Elementary School became Botetourt County’s first nationally recognized Blue Ribbon School last week when it was announced the Blue Ridge area school was among eight Virginia schools recognized for the distinction by the U.S. Department of Education.

Gov. Ralph Northam recognized those schools in an announcement touting the academic achievements that led to the recognition.

Every year since 1982, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has honored public and private elementary, middle and high schools across the country for demonstrating superior academic performance or making substantial progress in closing student achievement gaps.

The only other nearby 2018 National Blue Ribbon School is in the City of Lexington where Harrington Waddell Elementary School was recognized.

“Every Virginian— no matter who they are, where they’re from, or where they live— deserves access to a quality, world-class education that will set them up for success in life,” said Gov. Northam in his announcement recognizing the schools. “These schools represent diverse communities across our Commonwealth, sharing a strong commitment to academic excellence and innovative, high-quality instruction. I join all Virginians in celebrating the hard work and achievement of our students and teachers.”

“I am so proud to celebrate these schools that have been recognized for their academic accomplishments and efforts to close the achievement gap,” said Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “We congratulate our hard-working students and applaud their teachers, administrators and staff who daily go above and beyond to support all the needs of all of their students.”

“I look forward to visiting these schools and personally congratulating the principals, teachers, students, parents and support staff for their hard work and all they do to create learning communities in which students grow and excel,” Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said.

The other Virginia Blue Ribbon Schools are Deep Run High School in Henrico County, Francis W. Jones Magnet Middle School in Hampton City, Keene Mill Elementary School in Fairfax County, St. Paul Elementary School in Wise County and Blessed Sacrament School and Early Childhood Center, a private school in Alexandria.

For more information about the National Blue Ribbon Schools program and the schools receiving the 2018 designation, please visit the U.S. Department of Education website.

Colonial Elementary was recognized by the Botetourt School Board during the board’s September meeting after the school staff implemented a new House System across the grades.

Students and staff are divided into four “houses” represented by four colors and animals. “The houses are established across grade levels to encourage character development and the building of our school community,” the school website explains.

In a presentation to the School Board, the staff and students explained that each House eats lunch together, works on songs and programs together to share the positive characteristics represented by their house animal.

Students earn House points by displaying positive behaviors— that includes leadership. Kindness, perseverance, thinking “above and beyond,” academic achievement, superior speaking skills, manners and earning complements from teachers and staff.

“Students are encouraged to help their House earn points throughout the week. Points are totaled at the end of each week, and the House with the most points is displayed in the Office lobby,” the school website explains.

“There will be some friendly competitions during the year to help encourage teamwork such as the Boosterthon and Canned Food Drive. Parents can even help earn points by attending school functions such as Open House, Dine to Donate events, etc.”

At the end of the year, the House with the most points will win the Colonial House Cup.

Inco-Check