ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

'You've earned this': Churchill Elementary celebrates National Blue Ribbon Award

A special ceremony was held inside the Churchill Elementary School gymnasium to celebrate its National Blue Ribbon Award for excellence in closing the achievement gap.

Girl carries a plaque.
Churchill Elementary third-grade student Serenity Lone-Primeaux carries the National Blue Ribbon School plaque during a ceremony at the school on Tuesday, Nov. 22. The school received the award for reducing its achievement gap.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
We are part of The Trust Project.

CLOQUET — Teachers, staff and students at Churchill Elementary School celebrated the school receiving a National Blue Ribbon Award for excellence in closing the achievement gap during a ceremony Tuesday, Nov. 22.

Award plaque.
The National Blue Ribbon School plaque recognizing Churchill Elementary.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

The special event, hosted by Churchill Elementary School Principal David Wangen and fourth grader Lillian Cotner, included the unveiling of the National Blue Ribbon School banner and plaque, which students paraded throughout the gym after the Cloquet Drum Group played the Honor Song.

Cloquet Superintendent Michael Cary, Minnesota Education Commissioner Heather Mueller and Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Tribal Chairman Kevin Dupuis each gave a short speech to the crowd celebrating the school’s achievement.

Cary congratulated and thanked the staff and faculty at Churchill before directing his praise to the rows of students in the audience.

“This award that we’re talking about today, this wouldn’t have happened if you weren’t all here ready every day working really, really hard to be excellent learners,” Cary said. “So you really need to give yourselves a round of applause.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“What I hope for you kids is that you remember the excitement of this day and that you’ve earned it. You’ve earned this, and if you continue to work hard, you will earn many, many wonderful things throughout your life. So congratulations,” he concluded.

Two boys carry a banner.
Churchill Elementary fourth-graders Cassius St. John, left, and Talon Lauritsen carry the school's National Blue Ribbon School banner on Tuesday, Nov. 22.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

Mueller echoed Cary's sentiments.

“Your staff members, your principal, your superintendent, the Tribal Nation of Fond du Lac have come together to ensure that each and every single one of you has your hopes and dreams met,” Mueller said. “That you have a chance to be whoever you want to be, whenever you want to be, wherever you want to be, because they came together to make sure that you could be you.”

Speaker points.
Cloquet Superintendent Michael Cary points to the Churchill Elementary students during the award celebration on Tuesday, Nov. 22.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

The award is presented to schools based on their overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Education.

American Indian students at Churchill Elementary School have performed in the top 10-15% in the state yearly, Wangen said, and special education and Title I students have been in the top 25% annually.

Dupuis said he hopes the work done at Churchill will be a shining example for not only the district, but also for schools statewide in closing the achievement gap.

Man speaks.
Fond du Lac Tribal Chairman Kevin Dupuis speaks during the Churchill Elementary blue ribbon ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 22.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

“Hopefully this is the model that can continue through the Cloquet School District and hopefully we can stretch it out even further where the competition for an award like this is at a level that we’ve never seen before,” Dupuis said.

The ceremony concluded with a video presentation of Wangen and American Indian Education Teacher Phil Beadle traveling to Washington, D.C., to accept the award at the 2022 National Blue Ribbon Schools Award Ceremony held Nov. 3-4.

ADVERTISEMENT

Churchill was one of 297 schools nationwide and one of eight schools from Minnesota to be named as a 2022 National Blue Ribbon School Award winner.

The list of Minnesota recipient schools includes: Seven Hill Preparatory Academy in Bloomington, Lowell Elementary School in Brainerd, Maple River West Elementary School in Good Thunder, Kimberly Lane Elementary School in Plymouth, Lincoln K-8 School in Rochester, Springfield Elementary School in Springfield and Lake Middle School in Woodbury.

Churchill Elementary and Lake Middle School in Woodbury received the excellence in closing the achievement gap award, while the six other Minnesota schools were recognized as exemplary high performing schools.

Students wave pom poms.
Students waves pom pomps during a cheer near the end of Churchill Elementary Blue Ribbon Ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 22.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
Speaker raises fist in air.
Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Heather Mueller lifts a fist during the blue ribbon ceremony at Churchill Elementary on Tuesday, Nov. 22.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
Speaker pumps a fist in the air.
Churchill Elementary Principal David Wangen pumps a fist in the air during the blue ribbon ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

Related Topics: CLOQUET SCHOOLSEDUCATION
Jake Przytarski is a reporter for the Cloquet Pine Journal covering a mix of news and sports.
What to read next
Performances of 'A Christmas Carol' begin Friday, Dec. 2.
Charges in Carlton County, where the man was arrested with 11 pounds of methamphetamine, were dropped after federal charges were filed.
Wrenshall Community Education Director Ashley Laveau gives an update on course offerings and events:
The board directed county staff to rewrite a letter submitted by a neighbor to the green cemetery in Blackhoof Township asking why the cemetery did not follow certain start-up tips listed on the Green Burial Council's website.