Graveraet Elementary School named 2021 National Blue Ribbon School

North Central UP

WASHINGON, D.C. (WJMN) — A Marquette elementary school was among 13 Michigan schools recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2021.

Graveraet Elementary School in the Marquette Area Public School District was designated as an Exemplary High Performing School by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.

“I am so proud of our entire staff, all our students and families, everyone here at Graveraet Elementary School, because we all have made a conscious effort and priority over the past seven years to focus on what matters most, meeting the needs of the whole child,” Dr. Sarah Kemppainen, principal of Graveraet said. “When students feel safe, have trust in and with us, and know that there are teachers and staff who genuinely care for and love them, they are able to challenge themselves and grow academically, socially and emotionally. While all of us at Graveraet would agree that academic goals matter, we also share a firm belief that no academic goal is worth the soul of a child.”

Graveraet Elementary has only been around for eight years, but they’re housed in a building full of history in what used to be the Graveraet High School.

“I’m super proud of it and I’m proud of us as a school but also that we have families that have supported the school so much. This is really a testament to the community, not just the work done within the building,” said Kathleen Stiles, Title I reading and math teacher at Graveraet Elementary School.

Kemppainen has been with the elementary school since the start and says she is proud of her staff, students, and community for achieving this award together.

“We’re now a part of a tremendous legacy here in this building. A legacy of learning in this community which to me is remarkable and I’m super proud of everyone in this building,” said Kemppainen.

A total of 325 schools were recognized nationwide based on each school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Secretary Cardona made the announcement during his Return to School Road Trip, while visiting an awardee school, Walter R. Sundling Jr. High School, in Palatine, Illinois.

The Michigan schools named as National Blue Ribbon Schools were:

  • Ann Arbor – Martin Luther King Elementary School, Ann Arbor Public School District.
  • Avoca – Avoca Elementary School, Yale Public School District.
  • Bloomfield Hills – Conant Elementary School, Bloomfield Hills School District.
  • Caledonia – Dutton Elementary School, Caledonia Community School District.
  • Dearborn – Haigh Elementary School, Dearborn City School District.
  • Dearborn – Henry Ford Early College, Dearborn City School District.
  • Douglas – Douglas Elementary School, Saugatuck Public Schools.
  • Holland – Lakeshore Elementary School, West Ottawa Public Schools.
  • Lake Orion – Webber Elementary School, Lake Orion Community School District.
  • Marquette – Graveraet Elementary School, Marquette Area Public School District.
  • Mason – Alaiedon Elementary School, Mason Public School District (Ingham).
  • Troy – Barnard Elementary School, Troy School District.
  • Troy – Leonard Elementary School, Troy School District.

“This year’s cohort of honorees demonstrates what is possible when committed educators and school leaders create vibrant, welcoming, and affirming school cultures where rich teaching and learning can flourish,” Cardona said. “I commend all our Blue Ribbon honorees for working to keep students healthy and safe while meeting their academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs. In the face of unprecedented circumstances, you found creative ways to engage, care for, protect, and teach our children. Blue Ribbon Schools have so much to offer and can serve as a model for other schools and communities so that we can truly build back better.”

The Department recognizes all schools in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates:

  • Exemplary High-Performing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.
  • Exemplary Achievement Gap-Closing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s student groups and all students.

Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year. The Department invites National Blue Ribbon Schools nominations from the top education official in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and the Bureau of Indian Education. Private schools are nominated by the Council for American Private Education.

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