A West Fargo school has been named a national Blue Ribbon School, making it the third West Fargo School District elementary school to be awarded the honor in three years.
Harwood Elementary School was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education on Thursday, Sept. 26, along with 362 schools across the country, including one more in North Dakota, New Rockford-Sheyenne Elementary School.
The National Blue Ribbon School recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year.
“It is a really good feeling that yes, what we have been doing is going well, and to be recognized for it is really great,” Harwood Principal Jerry Standifer said in a statement. “It really is a family environment here. We have a really great culture where everybody is in it for all the kids.”
West Fargo's Legacy Elementary was named a Blue Ribbon School in 2017, and Freedom Elementary School got the honor in 2018.
Harwood Elementary was previously honored with the award in 2006 when it was under the leadership of then-principal Jerry Barnum.
Both North Dakota schools on the 2019 list were labeled as “exemplary high performing” schools.
“This tremendous honor highlights the hard work and dedication of the outstanding students, teachers and administrators at these two exceptional schools, as well as the innovative approaches to teaching and learning happening in schools throughout our state,” Gov. Doug Burgum said in a release.
Harwood Elementary recently underwent about $3 million in renovations, including a new gymnasium that will be finished by December as part of the $106.9 million bond approved in 2018.
Two new classrooms were built on the east side of the building as well as a new entrance. The administrative office was redesigned, and the old area was repurposed into four new classrooms.