As the school year in Howard County came to a close last week, the Folly Quarter Middle School community was celebrating its National Blue Ribbon honor when school officials announced another recent accolade — an online education resource named Folly Quarter the 12th-best middle school in the nation.
TheBestSchools.org praised the Ellicott City school for its requirement that each class participate in a community project to reinforce academic course objectives, while also instilling a sense of community service in the students. The website lauds Folly Quarter eighth-graders, who have studied cancer and raised $6,000 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
TheBestSchools.org says schools are compared primarily via National Assessment of Educational Progress results in science, math and reading for eighth-graders.
Folly Quarter is the only Maryland middle school ranked among the top 50 in the online evaluation.
"I was blown away by this," said Folly Quarter Principal Rick Wilson. He said was informed about the ranking via an email from the website.
'"The adults understand the magnitude of what this means. Students are slowly starting to come around to it," he said. "They're more focused on their day-to-day performance in the classroom, the athletic field, the jazz band. This is validation for everyone's hard work."
The recognition comes at the end of an academic year when Folly Quarter Middle was also named a 2013 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education — the only Howard County school to receive the honor this year. The school community celebrated the accolades at a flag raising ceremony Tuesday.
Folly Quarter was named a state Blue Ribbon School in 2012.
Folly Quarter was also named a Maryland Green School and earned a Healthy School Award from Healthy Howard, a Columbia-based nonprofit that encourages healthy choices and promotes health care options to county residents.
"It shows students that they're very lucky to be in a county that cares so much about our education and our other activities such as music," said Folly Quarter eighth-grader Sophie Shen, 13.
The Blue Ribbon honor, she said, "means we're the best."
Folly Quarter PTA president Cindy Coburn said Folly Quarter eighth-graders recently held a volleyball night that raised over $2,400 for the American Heart Association. She said the school's Leo Club and Community Outreach Committee recently held a garage sale that, in addition to assisting families in their spring-cleaning efforts, raised almost $2,000, which is being donated to Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center and another local charity assisting Howard County's homeless population.
Coburn said the school will not rest on its laurels. Folly Quarter is launching a Lego League that she said will be an introduction to engineering.
"Rick Wilson helps the kids and teachers stay motivated," she said.
Sixth-grader Walter Donoughe, 12, said he understands what the national recognitions mean.
"It's good to know that our school is a Blue Ribbon school and 12th in the entire country," he said. "This place really deserves it. We get a really good education here. Kids that go here are really friendly."