Towson High rises to national honor with Blue Ribbon designation

Principal Jane Barranger said Towson High School's designation on Thursday, Sept. 15, as a National Blue Ribbon School is confirmation that students, staff and parents are doing "the right thing."

But that doesn't mean they're satisfied.

"I feel very fortunate," said Barranger. "I look at it as we're doing the right thing, but I'm not going to be satisfied until every single student reaches their full potential."

Towson is one of 10 Maryland schools to receive the National Blue Ribbon designation, the U.S. Department of Education announced on Sept. 15.

The Blue Ribbon Schools program recognizes schools on both the state and national level for high performance or significant improvement in reading and mathematics achievement.

Barranger received an email about the honor Thursday morning, but spent most of the day hosting and comparing educational practices with 10 principals from Chinese schools who are visiting the area throughTowson University.

Once her obligations with them were finished, it was time to share the good news with the rest of the school.

"I brought together the leadership team seventh period, because their efforts really have driven instruction in our building and I want them to hear it," Barranger said.

"Then I asked our SGA president, Hanwen Liu, to join me in the announcement," she said, "and toward the end of the day, we got on and congratulated the students for their accomplishment and their hard work."

Last December, the school became one of six state public schools to be designated a Maryland Blue Ribbon School, the latest in a long line of achievements for the school.

While there was no application for the state designation, every state Blue Ribbon School is qualified to apply for the national designation, which Barranger called a "very interesting" process.

"You really take time as a team to reflect on all the pieces you have in place," she said. "That was very valuable to all of us. You want to keep the things that enrich the programs and reevaluate what you can do better."

Along with the students being well rounded, Barranger said placing high expectations on her students is one of the school's strengths.

"I think the students can do well when they're challenged," Barranger said. "They need to be challenged, and they need to develop good skills to be able to go to college or enter the workforce, and be able to find meaningful employment and flourish.

"Really, to become a valuable member of society that values what we all hold so dear. It's a big picture here that we really aim for," she said.

Barranger credited the atmosphere that Joe Hairston, superintendent of the Baltimore County Public Schools, has created across the county.

Hairston, in turn, congratulated Barranger and her school for their accomplishments in a statement Thursday afternoon.

"We are so proud of the accomplishments of Towson High School under the leadership of Principal Jane Barranger," Hairston said in a statement. "This latest honor brings attention to the hard work of faculty, staff and students, and the enduring support of the Towson community.

"Moreover, it is the latest in a string of honors for high schools throughout Baltimore County and yet more confirmation that, by following the Blueprint for Progress, we are raising academic rigor and student success," he said.

Towson High School has been listed in the last four editions of Newsweek magazine's list of "America's Best High Schools," and was ranked No. 264 in the country on the Washington Post's annual High School Challenge list, which ranks schools on Academic Rigor.

Towson, along with 255 other public schools and 49 private schools across the country, will receive a plaque and flag commemorating its status as a National Blue Ribbon school during an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., Nov. 14-15.

Towson is the county's 13th school to achieve the National Bue Ribbon designation.

Last year, Eastern Technical High School became the first BCPS high school to earn National Blue Ribbon status. Other county public schools previously designated as National Blue Ribbon Schools include Carroll Manor, Middlesex, Red House Run, Riderwood, Seventh District, Sparks, Summit Park and Timonium elementary schools and Dumbarton, Hereford and Ridgely middle schools.

Bill Reinhard, spokesman for the Maryland Department of Education, said although high schools have only recently begun being nominated for the state Blue Ribbon awards, it might seem to some that this honor is "long overdue" for Towson High.

"It comes as no surprise to most of us in the state," he said. "Towson High is a terrific school and has been for a long time. I'm sure this is as big of a thrill for the teachers and parents of the community as it is for the kids.

"They'll put that banner up in their entranceway as something the community can really rally around."

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