Lime Kiln Middle School has been named a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.
The school, which opened in Fulton in 1999, earned the distinction of being Howard County's only public school to be named a Maryland Blue Ribbon School of Excellence last year; it is also the only county school to earn the national award this year. It is the first time the school has received the national honor.
"We've very excited," said Principal Scott Conroy. He and his staff announced the award to the school before lunch Thursday, Sept. 15, the same day the award-winning list was announced by the U.S. Department of Education.
Ten schools in the state — six public, four private — were named National Blue Ribbon Schools. Lime Kiln is one of 305 public and private schools in the nation to receive the award.
In a statement, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the country's long-term economic prosperity and civic engagement depends on education.
"National Blue Ribbon School are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers," Duncan said. "Their success is an example to follow."
Lime Kiln was named a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the Maryland State Department of Education in December 2010. It was one of only six schools in the state, and the only one from Howard County, to receive the honor.
"The staff and students work very hard and the parental involvement and support is terrific," Conroy said. "It is wonderful to have that effort recognized at the national level."
At the state level, the award honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools that have scored consistently high on the Maryland State Assessments, or have shown significant improvement in their scores.
In the 2010-2011 academic year, more than 96 percent of students at Lime Kiln scored advanced or proficient in reading on the assessments; more than 94 percent scored advanced or proficient in math. Conroy attributed those statistics to "great staff and great kids."
He added: "We have hardworking kids. I also like to think we do a lot of things for kids outside the classroom to enrich education, things we provide our kids with to go along with our regular curriculum."
At the national level, the Blue Ribbon award goes to the highest-performing schools in the nation, or those who have shown success in closing the achievement gap.
Lime Kiln, along with the other 304 schools, will be honored at a conference and awards ceremony Nov. 14-15 in Washington, D.C.