GCHS, principal receive national education honors





Brad Neunswander from the Kansas State Department of Education knows Garden City High School brings home trophies and banners for extracurricular activities.

Friday afternoon the school was recognized in a different way.

GCHS was honored with the Blue Ribbon award. The National Blue Ribbon Schools award honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students perform at very high levels or where significant improvements are being made in students' levels of achievement.

GCHS was among six Kansas schools and 269 schools nationwide to receive the honors.

GCHS, along with Marshall Elementary School in Eureka, are being recognized in the Exemplary Improving Schools category.

The category recognizes schools that have at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds and which demonstrate the most progress in improving student achievement levels as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests.

The other four Kansas schools are recognized as Exemplary High Performing Schools, in which schools are recognized among their state's highest performing schools, which are measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests.

The other schools include: Basehor Linwood High School in Basehor, Blue Valley High School in Stilwell, Goddard High School in Goddard and Saint Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park.

Neunswander said Garden City has a lot to be proud of.

"This school won a national championship in the classroom," Neunswander said.

The school celebrated the Blue Ribbon Assembly with the color guard presenting the flag, the modern show choir singing "The Star-Spangled Banner," the cheerleaders and dance team doing a routine and the band playing the alma mater and school song.

James Mireles, principal, also received the Terrel H. Bell Award. He was one of seven principals in the nation and the only high school principal to receive the award. It was presented Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

Mireles has been the head principal at Garden City High School since 2004. Mireles was an associate principal at the school for four years prior to being appointed to the lead position at the school.

Mireles said Friday afternoon that both awards belong to the school. He had students and staff give themselves a standing ovation for the achievement of becoming a Blue Ribbon School. A Blue Ribbon Flag was presented to the school.

"There was a one in 3,000 chance of being awarded this award. You are definitely one of the top schools in the nation," he said.

Rick Atha, superintendent, presented Mireles with the Terrel H. Bell Award.

He said Mireles has maintained the commitment for quality education at GCHS.

Students and staff also gave Mireles a standing ovation for the award. The Terrel H. Bell Award, named for the former U.S. Secretary of Education, recognizes outstanding school leaders and the vital role they play in overcoming challenging circumstances. Principals nominated for this award are school leaders committed to fostering successful teaching and learning at their schools. They are principals who do whatever it takes to help their students meet high standards and are committed to the notion that in educating America's children, failure isn't an option, according to the National Blue Ribbon Schools website.

To select National Blue Ribbon Schools, the Department of Education requested nominations from the top education official in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and the Bureau of Indian Education. The Council for American Private Education nominates private schools. A total of 417 schools nationwide may be nominated, with allocations determined by the numbers of K-12 students and schools in each jurisdiction. The Secretary of Education invites nominated schools to submit an application for possible recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School.

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