Representatives from Minuteman High School in Lexington accepted the school’s 2018 National Blue Ribbon School award at a ceremony held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 8.
An audience of 1,300 people looked on in the hotel’s ballroom as dozens of outstanding schools nationwide were presented with the National Blue Ribbon School award by the Director of the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, Aba S. Kumi.
“At no other time in Minuteman’s history that I can think of has our school had such a great stretch of news going on,” said Principal Jack Dillon, who has worked at Minuteman for the past 13 years. “This is a really proud moment to represent Minuteman.”
He attended the Washington event along with Lead Mathematics Teacher John Fusco and Lead English Teacher Greg Donovan. “I would have liked to take every single Minuteman staff member to enjoy this event,” said Principal Dillon.
In addition to getting the National Blue Ribbon School award, Minuteman has achieved other significant milestones recently. For example, it has been designated a Level 1 school. Level 1 schools “meet targets for reducing proficiency gaps both for all students and for the High Needs Subgroup based on the Performance and Progress Index (PPI) that summarizes the school’s performance on up to seven core indicators. Level 1 schools also meet an MCAS participation requirement,” according to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Schools’ web site.
Minuteman is also in the midst of constructing a new Minuteman High School that is scheduled for completion in approximately eight months. This $145 million, state-of-the-art facility has been designed to support a robust college and career academy model. The academy model was adopted by staff and administration to create smaller “schools within a school,” thereby promoting more personalized learning founded upon close relationships between students and teachers.
The announcement of all 349 public and private school National Blue Ribbon School honorees was made on October 1, 2018 by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Only three schools in Massachusetts – Minuteman, Abington High School and Swampscott High School – received the award. Minuteman is the sole vocational high school in the state to get this recognition.
According to a U.S. Department of Education press release, National Blue Ribbon Schools earn that designation by excelling in one of two performance categories – either as Exemplary High Performing Schools or Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools, “which are among their state’s highest performing schools in
closing achievement gaps between a school’s student groups and all students over the past five years.”
All three National Blue Ribbon Schools from Massachusetts including Minuteman were cited for being Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools. President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump offered their congratulations to all the National Blue Ribbon Schools in a statement that reads in part: “We thank all those who have committed their time, talents, and resources to promote academic excellence, educate the leaders of tomorrow, and empower others to pursue
Education Secretary DeVos also lauded the recipients in a statement. “Our country needs dedicated administrators, teachers, families and staff like you. Your unwavering commitment to student success, to the well-being of every child, and to teaching and learning innovations will continue to transform schools and encourage students to realize their potential and their dreams.”
When asked about the value of this award to Minuteman, Principal Dillon said, “I hope it catapults us out of the shadow that career and technical education schools aren’t of the same caliber as traditional schools. The award will help us educate people about what we do here and how well we do it.”
For substantiation, he provided a few facts. Sixty-seven percent of Minuteman’s graduating seniors attend two- or four-year colleges. Others enter the workforce and start rewarding careers based on the knowledge, skills and rigorous education they acquired in high school.
Principal Dillon hopes that the award will be celebrated by everyone at Minuteman, not only the academic teachers. Academic concepts are integrated into the school’s vocational programs to the greatest extent possible; the two areas complement each other, hand-in-glove style.
He also wants people to realize that the administrators and faculty at Minuteman are not complacently sitting back or easing up after earning such a prestigious accolade. On the contrary, he said they are all working harder than ever, exhilarated by getting such a coveted national award.
“It’s a good time to be part of the Minuteman family,” said Principal Dillon, “that’s for sure.”
As an accredited member of the New England Association of Schools & Colleges (NEASC), Minuteman inspires all students to attain their full potential, accelerate their learning, and become purposeful citizens in the global community.