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Wylandville Wins!

Canon-McMillan elementary school celebrates national education award last week -- the second in the district to receive the national recognition since 2007

Anybody walking the halls of Wylandville Elementary School last Friday would have been met by Superintendent Helen McCracken chanting.

"We go to," she cheered. And to that, about 200 pupils answered loudly: "A Blue Ribbon School!"

The students, teachers, administrators and staff found out last Friday that hard work and dedication get you more than great test scores -- it also gets you recognition.

On Dec. 17, the school celebrated being named a 2010 National Blue Ribbon School. The festivities were attended by students, school board members, McCracken and local politicians, including State Rep. Brandon Neuman -- who was a student there himself. 

"I knew it was a special school when I went there. This award really shows how great the teachers, students and parents are from this area," said Neuman, D-North Strabane.

While Neuman was proud of the school for earning this achievement, the best part of attending the celebration -- which included a video of years past, speeches and the presentation of the award -- was the children who made it all possible.

"It was nice to see the students get excited over the award they earned," he said.

The winners were announced in September and a ceremony was held in Washington, D.C., in November to honor the award recipients. Two other area schools, Cornell Elementary in Coraopolis, and South Fayette Elementary in McDonald, were also recognized this year.   

Director of Curriculum and Instruction Grace Lani was principal at the time Wylandville earned the award, and was on hand to present the school with the official plaque from the U.S. Department of Education.

Nina Unitas, who has worked as the assistant principal there for three years, was thrilled to see this award bestowed to those who worked so hard to make it possible.

"It was great seeing the children, the teachers, the administration, the parents and the support staff get all of their hard work affirmed by this national award," said Unitas.

Wylandville was one of 304 schools -- 254 public and 50 private -- honored as a Blue Ribbon recipient this year. The award is given to elementary, middle and high schools that perform at exceptional levels, or that have shown considerable progress in closing achievement gaps.

The program, which began in 1982, has awarded more than 6,000 schools with this honor. Another Canon-McMillan school, First Street Elementary, won the award in 2007 when it was recognized as a school with dramatically improving student performance.


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