ASHAWAY — Students, teachers, administrators and support staff gathered in the Ashaway Elementary School gymnasium on Friday afternoon to celebrate the school’s Blue Ribbon award.

Ashaway is one of 362 schools across the country and three in Rhode Island to receive the award, the highest honor the U.S. Department of Education can bestow on a school. 

Schools were rated on their standardized test scores, their success in closing achievement gaps and their overall cultures. Hope Valley Elementary School received the Blue Ribbon award in 2011. 

Joining the school community for the brief ceremony were Sen. Elaine Morgan, R-Hopkinton, Superintendent of Schools Barry Ricci and Assistant Superintendent Jane Daly, Hopkinton Town Council members Barbara Capalbo, Sharon Davis and Scott Bill Hirst and School Committee members Lisa Macaruso and William Day.

“I am very proud,” Morgan said. “This is where my kids went to school and it’s an honor to have one of the Blue Ribbon winners in our district.”

Ricci said the award was a recognition of the efforts of everyone in the Chariho school district.

“It’s a tribute to the hard work done in the district,” he said.

Macaruso, who lives in Ashaway and represents Hopkinton on the School Committee, said the excellence of the school, which her daughters attended, prompted her to run for a seat on the committee.

“Ashaway Elementary School is what initially inspired me to run for School Committee for my first term,” she said. “It was the education, the community that my children were getting here that I wanted to make sure was voiced, and I was able to contribute to that districtwide. And clearly, here we are, seven years later, and Ashaway still is a beacon for the community.”

Daly and kindergarten teacher Kerri Smith traveled to Washington, D.C., in November with Principal Jeffrey Scanapieco to accept the award.

“I was fortunate to attend the ceremony in D.C.,” Daly said. “It was such an exciting experience to be with schools and administrators from all over the country.”

Smith, who sat near her kindergarten students trying to keep them calm as they waited for the ceremony to begin, described the trip and the award as “amazing.” 

“To be in D.C. and accept the award for the teachers was a great experience,” she said.

Smith also noted that she believed that even at a very young age, the children in her class recognized that they were attending an award-winning school.

“I think they do,” she said. “We talked about it yesterday and I said ‘tomorrow we’re celebrating the Blue Ribbon’ and if they wanted to wear blue, they could show their support. My kids are up front and almost all of them have blue on, so I think they know the significance.”

Scanapieco opened the ceremony by describing some of the attributes of Blue Ribbon schools.

“What makes a Blue Ribbon school so special,” he said. “Its leaders articulate a vision of excellence and hold everyone to high standards.”

Morgan presented the school with a citation from the Rhode Island Senate recognizing the award, and in keeping with his belief in the value of every member of the school community, Scanapieco presented certificates and pins that he had made for the occasion to every teacher and staff member, and to each class.

“It’s a very prestigious award and we work very hard here at Ashaway,” he said when the ceremony ended. “The staff works hard, the faculty works hard, the students work hard, so it’s always nice to celebrate success, and I think it’s important.”

The award, he added, is a recognition of the students.

“This award is really about them, what they do, how they come to school every day, and it’s our job to make sure that they are getting the best education that they can possibly get,” he said.

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