State schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick announced yesterday that her alma mater, Western High School in Baltimore, is among six Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools this year.
Also named were Seventh District Elementary in Baltimore County, Southern High in Anne Arundel County, Hammond Middle in Howard County, Highland Elementary in Montgomery County and Stephen Decatur Middle in Worcester County.
The schools were selected based on high achievement, significant improvement or both. They will represent Maryland in the national Blue Ribbon Schools competition. National winners will be announced next fall. Meanwhile, the state winners will be honored at a banquet in Annapolis in March and recognized by the Maryland General Assembly.
Western, a magnet school with admissions requirements, is the nation's oldest all-girls public school, founded in 1844. In recent weeks, some alumnae have protested plans by the city school system to temporarily locate a new girls middle school in one of its hallways next year.
While Western has an excellent academic record and in 2007 had a 100 percent college placement rate, its enrollment - currently 840 - has been low for several years. Consequently, it is ineligible for state school renovation money to repair the aging building it shares with Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. By locating the middle school in the building, system officials say, they would be able to secure more money for Western while setting a positive example for the younger girls.