North Harford Elementary School has been named a Maryland Blue Ribbon School for 2016, the Maryland State Department of Education announced Monday morning.
Jillian Lader, manager of communications for Harford County Public Schools, confirmed that the Pylesville school had been selected for the award.
North Harford is one of six elementary and high schools in the state selected this year for the Blue Ribbon honor, which is based on student test scores as well as each school's community service programs, extracurricular offerings, attendance and high school graduation rates, according to a news release from MSDE. Other schools honored are in Anne Arundel, Baltimore and St. Mary's counties.
Representatives of each school received a plaque and a Maryland Blue Ribbon flag from state education officials when they announced the honorees at MSDE headquarters in Baltimore Monday, according to Lader.
"North Harford Elementary School truly exemplifies what it means to be a Blue Ribbon School," HCPS Superintendent Barbara Canavan said in a statement. "Their staff continues to serve their students and all members of the school community with fervor that is highly personalized, ensuring the success of each child entrusted to them."
North Harford Elementary opened in 1984, and it has 440 students, according to the school's page on the HCPS website. The principal is Lisa Sundquist.
"Congratulations to our students and staff!" Sundquist stated. "Their efforts have shown so much heart and dedication and we are very excited to begin our Blue Ribbon celebrations!"
NHES students and teachers value "the importance of the whole child," along with academic achievement, according to an HCPS news release, which notes that MSDE officials recognized North Harford's co-teaching methods to address varied student needs.
"The school has established solid co-teaching relationships at each grade level that allows instruction teams to target and address differentiated student needs," the HCPS news release states. "North Harford Elementary is home to one of only four co-taught Pre-K programs in the county, giving the school's youngest learners a strong start to their academic careers."
North Harford was named a Maryland Green School in 2014, an honor bestowed each year by the Maryland Association of Environmental and Outdoor Education upon schools for their environmental preservation or outdoor education programs, according the HCPS website.
North Harford has a Monarch Waystation to increase the local population of Monarch caterpillars and butterflies, and the students have built a garden where lettuce is grown for the school cafeteria, according to HCPS.
The school's "very innovative" after-school programs such as a STEM club for fifth graders and a math program for fourth graders that blends "critical math thinking with physical fitness and well-being," as well as its partnership with local high school students for cultural arts and science programs, according to MSDE.
"Attendance consistently exceeds 95 percent and the school is also applauded for high overall math and reading proficiency during the past [Maryland School Assessment] administration," MSDE's announcement of the award states.
Last December, Fountain Green Elementary School near Bel Air was named a Maryland Blue Ribbon School and earlier this year received a National Blue Ribbon School honor for 2015.