LaGRANGE — The cinder block hallways of Rosemont Elementary School are lined with construction-paper cut outs of firemen, each with a child’s jagged handwriting showcasing fire-safety tips. Further down the hall, photos with matching names of students line a corridor outside a second grade class. The walls are filled with colorful displays, but soon the school will have a new item to hang — a blue ribbon of honor.
Rosemont Elementary School was selected this year as a National Blue Ribbon School, an honor bestowed by the federal Secretary of Education denoting a school’s outstanding commitment to education and its students.
Only 285 of the estimated 98,000 public schools in the United States were chosen for the honor in 2015. Nine Georgia schools were chosen out of the 181 school districts in the state.
The award will be presented to Rosemont principal Natalie Givins at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., next month, but Tuesday, the Troup High School Alumni Association and the Troup County School System congratulated many of Rosemont’s 68 staff members at an after-school luncheon.
“The general public really has no idea what you do here,” said Ted Alford, chairman of the Troup County Board of Education. “I know that you teach reading, writing and arithmetic, but in today’s world, with all the challenges, it’s important to keep doing what you do. Know that you’re one of the best, and it comes from loving children and creating an atmosphere of positivity.”
The National Blue Ribbon award is a big deal, explained Patrick Crews, chairman of the Troup County Board of Commissioners.
The award is a “mark of excellence in education recognized by everyone from parents to policy makers in thousands of communities across the country,” he said.
Ellis Cadenhead, a member of THS’s alumni association, said the work teachers do to impact students is invaluable.
“The first day of school, when those kids walk through those doors, you make an impression that lasts a lifetime,” he told the assembled staff.
Rosemont Elementary — originally a high school — has served the rural community south of LaGrange since 1924. The present school site was purchased from a family who lived in a stately southern home adjoining the property that was once known as “the home of roses,” according to the school’s application for the award.
The school has experienced rapid growth in the past few years, adding about 10 new classes to the student body of 608. The school isn’t without its challenges, though. About 50 percent of its students use free or reduced-cost lunches every day. Still, the school boasts in impressive 97 percent attendance rate and its teacher-to-student ratio is about 22 to 1.
Rosemont’s performance numbers are also impressive. Data shows Rosemont was able to close achievement gaps for socioeconomically disadvantaged students while steadily increasing the number of students exceeding math standards in recent years.
Third graders made the most growth, steadily increasing math proficiency levels from 84 percent to 96 percent.
On Nov. 13, after the school’s principal returns from Washington with the award, the school system intends to throw a celebration party for students and staff.
Tyler H. Jones is a reporter at LaGrange Daily News. He may be at 706-884-7311, ext. 2155.