Academic excellence makes local school one of only five in Wisconsin to receive prestigious national award
It’s not often that a Wisconsin school earns National Blue Ribbon accolades.
Count Grafton Elementary School among the chosen few.
Principal Jeff Martyka was notified in late September that his school was one of only five in the state and 286 nationwide named 2013 Blue Ribbon winners by the U.S. Department of Education. The award recognizes schools for overall academic excellence or progress in improving students’ academic achievement.
“It’s really a great honor for us to receive this,” Martyka said. “We’re very excited.”
Founded in 1982, the Blue Ribbon program considers schools that are nominated by top education officials in their state, complete an extensive application and provide evidence of their students’ academic progress. Grafton Elementary was nominated last fall by State Supt. Tony Evers.
The school has received high marks on state Department of Public Instruction report cards, including a grade of 85.4 this fall that placed it in the “significantly exceeds expectations” category. Grafton Elementary’s mark was the highest among the district’s five schools.
Martyka attributed his school’s success to a sustained effort to motivate students and get them to realize their potential.
“One of the things we’re really working on is identifying any students who are struggling academically so we can help them and students at the high end so that we can challenge them,” he said.
Grafton Elementary’s application was prepared by Martyka, teacher Mike Welden and other staff members, and submitted in February.
“We did a very thorough job with our application,” Martyka said.
Public and private elementary, middle and high schools are eligible for Blue Ribbon honors. Martyka praised his teachers and support staff, as well as students and their families.
“This is really about the kids. We’re telling them, ‘Thank you’ for their hard work and for taking pride in their school,” he said.
Grafton Supt. Mel Lightner, who joined the district this summer, described Grafton Elementary “as truly an exceptional school.”
“From my limited time in the district, I have seen outstanding teaching and engaged learners,” Lightner said. “In addition, Principal Martyka provides extraordinary leadership.”
In recognition of its Blue Ribbon status, Grafton Elementary will receive a plaque and flag.
To celebrate the award, an assembly will be held at 9:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 14, in the school gymnasium.
In addition, Martyka and Welden have been invited to attend a national recognition ceremony in Washington, D.C. in November.
The other Wisconsin schools receiving 2013 Blue Ribbon awards are Country Meadows Elementary School in Muskego, Our Redeemer Lutheran School in Wauwatosa, Ridgeway Elementary School in Ridgeway, and Suamico Elementary School in Green Bay.
Image Information: HAPPY TO CELEBRATE their school’s selection for a Blue Ribbon award by the U.S. Department of Education were Grafton Elementary School students Morgan Ruona, Lily Bauer, Cannon Nash, Michael Seybold and Colton Nash. Looking on were Principal Jeff Martyka (back, left) and teacher Michael Welden, who helped prepare the school’s application for the national honor. Photo by Sam Arendt