Blue Ribbon day for Bel Air's Ring Factory Elementary

"What makes Ring Factory so great?" Earl Gaskins, the Bel Air school's principal, asked Friday.

A lot, both for Gaskins, his staff and his enthusiastic, high achieving student body.

In January, Ring Factory Elementary was one of six schools statewide named Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools.

Ring Factory was honored for its students' proficiency in reading and math and for the staff's dedication to school leadership and professional development.

So, on a sunny, warm Friday morning, the school had a lot to celebrate during the special assembly to recognize the Blue Ribbon accomplishment.

Parents, grandparents, teachers, staff and students flooded the school's gymnasium for the special assembly honoring each of their achievements.

Interim State Superintendent of Schools Bernard J. Sadusky and Harford Superintendent Robert Tomback were on hand, along with several members of the Harford County Board of Education, Harford County Council and many former Ring Factory principals and teachers.

It was, however, primarily a day dedicated to the students and their teachers.

Students, all attired in white shirts, wore blue ribbons studded with a single star in the middle.

The fourth and fifth grade choruses showcased their talents with two performances — one of the classic Beatles song "Blackbird" and "Waka Waka," based on a traditional African song.

Ring Factory's steel drum band, the Steel Foxes, also put their unique spin on John Lennon's most famous song, "Imagine."

Board of Education President Leonard Wheeler said he was particularly proud of the school.

"When we work together as a team good things happen," he commented. "I look forward to your continued success."

Sadusky addressed all the teachers in the room, saying: "I'm your biggest fan." Everyone stood up to applaud.

He pointed out that Maryland public schools have been ranked best in the nation for the fourth consecutive year. Out of those 1,700 outstanding schools across the state, Sadusky continued, only six received the Blue Ribbon Award.

"Your students come to one of the most outstanding schools in the United States," he told the assembly.

Darla Strouse, director of the Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools Program, had the best job of the morning — announcing what prizes the school and its principal will receive.

On top of Gaskins being honored in Annapolis by elected officials and receiving a Blue Ribbon flag of excellence, Ring Factory will get new books from Scholastic, $6,000 worth of equipment from Smart Technology, including an interactive whiteboard, a check for $2,000 from the Blue Ribbon program and a pizza party courtesy of Joe Corbi's.

The kids went crazy when they heard "pizza party."

"Thank you for helping our students reach new heights," Gaskins said as he closed the assembly. "Being successful takes hard work."

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