Notre Dame Academy, a private Catholic girls' school in Rancho Park, is one of 222 schools nationwide to be named a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.
The schools were selected from 490 nominated schools and were evaluated on leadership, teacher growth, a "rigorous core curriculum" and strong parent and community support. Schools were asked to report their progress toward achieving national education goals adopted by President Bush and the nation's governors.
The 42-year-old Notre Dame, on Overland Avenue, was established by the Sisters of Notre Dame. Its 450 high school students are from diverse social, ethnic and economic backgrounds and have "a common goal, to achieve a classic college preparatory education that will lead to college acceptance and improved opportunities in life," said Sister Gina Marie, the principal. The school also stresses leadership skills and community service.
"The award is just an affirmation of all the effort so many people have put into the school," said Sister Marie, adding that parents and teachers were involved in filling out the 37-page application for the annual Blue Ribbon award. But, she said, "it doesn't mean Notre Dame is better than any school in the area. It's just that the Department of Education has recognized that we are fulfilling our goals well."
In September, Sister Marie will go to Washington to receive the award at a White House ceremony.