Notre Dame Preparatory School in Towson celebrated being named a 2012 National Blue Ribbon School on Friday, at an impromptu assembly that Headmistress Sister Patricia McCarron said showcased the spirit that helped earn the school the honor.
"We know that this recognition is a testament, girls, to the incredible gifts and potential you have; to the wonderful talents that you bring each day here…and the wonderful talents that have been brought here at NDP for generations," Sister Patricia told the student body during the assembly.
After a rendition of the school's alma mater and a short introductory video, students were told at the assembly about the application process, and then shown a video from U.S. Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan announcing that NDP was one of 269 Blue Ribbon Schools across the country.
After the announcement, the school band struck up the school song, with students on their feet and clapping along.
Sister Patricia delivered her remarks — including dispelling rumors of a possible celebratory day off from school that she heard in whispers from the crowd — and then students were given a pair of small gifts to commemorate the afternoon: an Almond Joy (in its blue wrapper, of course) and a small blue ribbon to be worn on students' blazers and uniforms until the award is received in November.
Though students had an inkling that the impromptu end-of-the-day assembly was about the Blue Ribbon designation, senior Allison Beres of Perry Hall said the award means a lot to the students.
"I love NDP, so it's good to see that other people are recognizing how great NDP is," she said. "I wanted to go to NDP since my sister went here four years ago. I'm really into sports here, and academics. You can find anything you want here."
Senior Lexi Canelos said the designation was an honor, and will give those on the outside an idea of what students already know — that NDP is a great school.
And on a practical note, both Canelos and Beres said the designation will enhance NDP's already impressive reputation as they apply to college this fall.
Of 10 Maryland schools named 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools, Notre Dame Prep is the only independent school and the only middle/high school to receive the designation.
It's an honor Sister Patricia said the school sought after last year's Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools re-accreditation process.
"Everyone in the community really participated to help make that accreditation process such a fabulous success," she said. "When we got our feedback from Middle States on the accreditation process and heard from them what a fantastic school they thought Notre Dame Prep was, we thought, 'This is the time to apply for the Blue Ribbon School.' "
NDP had already been named a finalist, but the final word came late last night that they had made the cut.
"We know that this award really is a tribute to our fabulous girls, and our talented faculty, and a celebration for our whole community," Sister Patricia said. "A group of our wonderful faculty and staff got together with the girls and planned this assembly to bring the whole community together to celebrate."
The assembly, she said, "could not have been better."
"The excitement of our girls said it all." Sister Patricia said. "The best part about Notre Dame is our girls — as it always has been — and their enthusiasm and excitement and pride in NDP came bursting forth today. There's nothing better than to see that happen."
The school will formally receive the award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 12 and 13.