Havre de Grace High Principal Jon Andes sounded like a stuck record at the county school board neeting Monday.

He was just too excitedto keep quiet.

"Havre de Grace has been named a national school of excellence," he told the board.

"I'm going to say it again: A national school of excellence!"

For weeks the school has waited to hear if they hadbeen named on of the best high schools in the nation as part of the national Secondary School Recognition Program.

The long-awaited phone call with word of those schools to be honored came to Andes at 9:15 a.m. Monday during a planned fire drill a the school.

"I'm super. I'm excited. I'm all those things," he said, after receiving the news. "This is a combination of several factors - a caring faculty, a committed student body and a very supportive community. When you bring those ingredients together, success happens."

Before handing outschool pride pins to the school board members, Andes reviewed the process that will take representatives of the school to the White Housefor a reception this fall.

He noted that the school, in 1985, examined the quality of education they provided and developed a plan to improve by 1995.

"We just hit our goal earlier than we thought. And the greatest thing is, we're not done. We still have tasks to complete," he said.

To enter the competition, school officials sent a self-nominating package to the state board of Education in November. In December, Havre de Grace High was notified that they's been selected as one of eight Maryland schools.

In March, the U.S. Department of Education sent visitors to randomly talk to students, parents, board members, teachers and support staaff.

Havre de Grace high administrators thought they had a good chance for recognition with specialprograms, such as a 100-member student volunteer program the school has started, improved Student Achievement Test scores and attendance rates. Andes has cause to be pleased, board members said. Student SATscores rose 10 points in the last three years, and the drop-out ratefell to 5 percent in 1989-1990, from 10 percent in 1985-1986. And the percentage of minority students on the honor roll rose to 12.7 percent this year, from 8 percent last school year.

"This is so great I just can't sit down," said board member Percy V. Willians.

Representatives from the school will be honored at a White House receptionin September with plaques and a big banner.

For Andes, the award is the culmination of the high school's 120-year history, from a start in 1873 on the top floors of the city hall to to the most recent structure on the edge of town.

The current location is itself an example of how the community has constantly supported the high school, the principal said.

"In the 1920s, every member of a fraternal organization in Havre de Grace donated one dollar to purchase the land we're on now."

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