A Federal Express package delivered Friday confirmed what Sandra Carraway has been saying about Riverside Middle School for the last three years.
"From the time I came to Riverside, I recognized it was a school that has everything going for it," said Carraway, the school's principal.
About 11 a.m. Friday, school officials found out - via FedEx - that Riverside Middle was one of three in the state that have been designated as Blue Ribbon Schools by U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige.
"This is a great honor," Carraway said.
Riverside has about 835 students in grades 6-8, Carraway said.
The other two Blue Ribbon schools in Georgia are Carrollton Junior High School in Carroll County and Chapel Hill Middle School in Douglas County. In all, 172 public and private secondary schools were honored throughout the United States.
"These schools strive everyday to be their very best, and exemplify what American education can look like when we work as a team to create the best teaching and learning environments for our students," Paige said.
The Blue Ribbon program, in its 19th year, cites excellence in leadership, teaching, curriculum, student achievement and parental involvement.
Carraway said it took a team effort to earn Riverside's Blue Ribbon. The process started last year when school leaders submitted a 40-page application and student performance data to the Georgia School of Excellence program. After a site visit from program leaders, the school was named a state school of excellence.
Then, school leaders sent their Blue Ribbon School application to the Georgia Department of Education, where officials selected certain schools to send to the national level. The national site visit - from a committee representative from Texas - was in early March.
Since then, it's been a waiting game.
"We were expecting good things and now it has been confirmed," Carraway said. "We are extremely thrilled."
Carraway has worked in the Columbia County school system for 14 years, stating as a teacher at Harlem High School, then as an assistant principal at Harlem High and Evans High School before moving to Riverside three years ago. Now, she has no plans to go elsewhere.
"When you are in a place like that and everything is done so well, it is a wonderful job to go to everyday," she said.
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