Five South Carolina Public Schools Named National Blue Ribbon Award Winners

September 15, 2009

GREENWOOD COUNTY, SC – September 15, 2009 – Five South Carolina public schools are among the 314 schools nationwide named 2009 No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon winners today by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.  Official award ceremonies take place in November in Washington, DC. 

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, run by the federal Department of Education, honors public and private K-12 schools that are either academically superior or that demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement.

The Palmetto State’s public school winners are Chukker Creek Elementary in the Aiken County School District, Carolina Elementary in Hartsville (Darlington County School District), Midland Elementary in Galivants Ferry (Horry County School District), Ninety Six High School in Greenwood District 52 and Chapin High in School District Five of Lexington and Richland counties.

“Congratulations to these five wonderful schools,” said State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex.  “This award signifies their success in making it possible for each and every student to succeed, and it shows they have outstanding administrators, creative teachers and dedicated staff members.”

The U.S. Department of Education says that schools chosen as National Blue Ribbon recipients are models of excellence that other schools can emulate.

In past years, any school could apply to compete in the Blue Ribbon program.  It was modified in 2001 to make selection criteria consistent with the goals of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.  In the new system, the USDE determines how many nominees each state can submit.  The federal agency allows South Carolina to nominate five schools, and those nominees must meet one of two criteria:

  • Schools that have at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds and that show dramatic improvement in test scores to high levels in English Language Arts and mathematics.
  • Schools, regardless of their demographics, that achieve in the top 10 percent of schools in the state.

Chukker Creek, Carolina Elementary and Ninety Six High School achieved in the top 10 percent, with at least 40 percent disadvantaged students.  Midland Elementary was in the top 10 percent – with at least 40 percent disadvantaged students – and also had dramatic improvement.  Chapin High made the top 10 percent and has less than 40 percent disadvantaged students.

All five nominated South Carolina schools not only met the basic criteria, but also scored higher against those criteria than other South Carolina schools.  All nominees had to have made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under NCLB for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 school years, and also had to make AYP for the 2008-09 school year to be eligible for recognition.  

Two people from winning schools – the principal and a teacher – are invited to the awards ceremony November 3 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington.  Each of the schools – 264 public and 50 private –  receives a plaque and a flag signifying their NCLB-Blue Ribbon School status.

More about the 2009 winners

CHUKKER CREEK ELEMENTARY, located on the edge of Aiken, serves 751 students from diverse family backgrounds in grades K-5.  Some students reside in multi-family mobile home parks, federally funded public housing developments, the local Salvation Army shelter or moderately priced single housing developments, while others live in the most affluent country club neighborhood in the county.  Students come to Chukker Creek with various levels of school-readiness and different needs and challenges.  

Throughout its history, Chukker Creek has been recognized for outstanding performance with various awards. The school received the Dick and Tunky Riley School Improvement Award, Palmetto Gold and Silver Award, and was a Palmetto’s Finest finalist among other honors.  Chukker Creek’s success can be attributed to its strong curriculum and instructional programs, effective use of technology, strong parental and community support and meaningful integration of the arts into the academic program. 

CAROLINA ELEMENTARY serves 253 students in grades one to five and is located in Hartsville in Darlington County. Established 60 years ago, the school has a strong heritage and reputation for dedicated teachers and effective instruction.  It’s received various types of recognition for academic accomplishments, implementation of best practices, community involvement and positive school climate.  Carolina’s success is a result of the combination of strong leadership, dedicated faculty and staff, and active parental and community involvement. 

Carolina’s programs and initiatives are based on specific student needs after careful analysis of achievement data.  The school provides and maintains an after-school academic Quiz Bowl program to encourage an enthusiastic learning environment.  Effective school communication is enhanced by continuing improvements in technology.   A Positive Behavior Intervention Support Program and an annual school-wide Dragon Fest Celebration help to create a positive learning environment and motivate Carolina students to strive for success. 

MIDLAND ELEMENTARY is located in a rural Horry County community, serving a diverse student population of 524 in kindergarten through fifth grade.  Midland has 61.8 percent of its students eligible for the free or reduced price school lunch program; most students’ parents work on farms or at other hourly-wage positions.  The school’s success is centered on an unwavering belief in rigorous academic expectations and active student engagement in learning.

Using the South Carolina Curriculum Standards and the pacing guides developed by Horry County schools, Midland consistently strives for excellence.  Professional development provides faculty and staff with extensive training in literacy, Reading Recovery, workstations, Everyday Math, Imagine Phonics and Brain Compatible Learning.  Using assessment data to identify student needs, the school has formed a Student Study Team (SST) to develop intervention strategies.  Tutorial programs designed to help individual students are available before, during and after school, taught by trained personnel.  An active PTO and volunteer program effectively contributes to the school’s success.

NINETY SIX HIGH is a unique, small, rural school in Greenwood County.  Caring relationships make the school special.  Faculty and staff work well together and support each other like family.  The teachers bond with students and go the extra mile to help them succeed.  Teachers are able to spend quality time with students to build lasting relationships.   After students graduate, some will return and visit with their former teachers.  On occasion, students visit their former teachers for help in their college classes.  Student support within the school structure contributes to overall academic success.

The mission of Ninety Six High is to build a community of learners in a positive, safe environment and to prepare students to be successful in life.  The school motto is, “Learning is a journey…stay the course.”   Students in grades nine through 12 attend Ninety Six High. The student body is 25 percent African-American, with 75 percent Caucasian and other ethnicities.  Forty-three percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunch.  Eleven percent are served in special education.  For the last two years the school has been recognized as a Bronze Medal winner in rankings of America’s Best High Schools by U.S. News and World Report magazine. 

is located in the Town of Chapin, a growing “bedroom community” near Columbia.  The school is the heart of the community as shown through support by parents and community residents.  Chapin High added two self-contained special education classes to serve the needs of an increasingly diverse population. For at-risk students, a unique program, SAIL (Success Acquired In Learning), was implemented three years ago.  Intramurals were added to promote more student involvement in physical fitness.  The school’s MAST (Mentor and Student Teams) program is designed to build relationships between certified staff and students and to provide academic and career guidance opportunities. 

Chapin High has been named a Palmetto Gold or Silver Award winner for the past seven years.  US News and World Report listed Chapin as a Silver Medal School in its 2009 Best High Schools ranking.  The Naval Junior ROTC unit has been named best in the state and nation numerous times.  The school’s athletic program has been recognized as “Best Athletic Program in the Midlands” while the band, chorus and visual arts programs have also received numerous awards.  Although Chapin High takes great pride in recognition for its programs, the school is equally proud of the opportunities students have to grow into productive, well-rounded and civic-minded community members.