Holy Spirit Catholic School 1 of 2 Florida schools honored by feds for academic performance
Florida Times-Union | By Steve Patterson | September 20, 2022
An East Arlington Catholic school is one of just two schools in Florida picked this year for a U.S. Department of Education honor that celebrates academic performance.
Holy Spirit Catholic School at 11665 Fort Caroline Road was among 297 schools nationally named to the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, which spotlights schools creating academic excellence or closing achievement gaps.
The designation, made Friday, was announced Monday to Holy Spirit’s students, ranging from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade.
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona praised the schools as showing how to “make an enduring, positive difference” in students’ lives.
“As our country continues to recover from the pandemic, we know that our future will only be as strong as the education we provide to all of our children,” Cardona said in a release. “Blue Ribbon Schools have gone above and beyond to keep students healthy and safe while meeting their academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs.”
The school’s small size, numbering just 223 students last year, made qualifying for the honor more challenging, said Principal John Luciano.
Tests results from each grade level have to average in the top 15 percent of scores nationally, and Luciano said having a few children test unusually poorly could eliminate a school from consideration despite strong work by classmates who might have raised the average in a larger pool of students.
“It was just very rare,” he said of the results.
Luciano said he was particularly proud that the school was recognized for results from the last academic year, when, as a result of the pandemic, many students had to keep high performance despite learning remotely for months on end.
A series of other schools in the Diocese of St. Augustine have earned Blue Ribbon recognition before, but the last one was 11 years ago, Luciano said.
Another Catholic school, Saint Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, was the only other Florida school recognized by the federal award, although public schools nationally accounted for about 92 percent of the Blue Ribbon schools.