West Homer Elementary awarded 2012 National Blue Ribbon School


U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recognized West Homer Elementary (WHE) as one of 269 schools in the nation to be awarded 2012 National Blue Ribbon School status. WHE is one of three schools in Alaska to earn this honor.

At an assembly on September 13, 2012, Principal Ray Marshall read from a letter he received from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, dated September 7, 2012, and said, "President Barack Obama and I believe that a world-class education is critical in order for all children to become productive, engaged citizens in our society and meet the challenges of the future. Your work reflects this conviction." Marshall went on to explain to the students how many people contributed to the National Blue Ribbon School award.

Dr. Steve Atwater, superintendent said, "I am thrilled to learn that West Homer Elementary is the recipient of a Blue Ribbon School Award. This award is an excellent way to recognize the superb work of the West Homer staff with the students as well as the wonderful level of support for the school by the greater West Homer Elementary community." At the assembly, Atwater facilitated a rousing student cheer with the phrase "West Homer Rocks!"


Senator Murkowski and Representative Seaton sent congratulatory letters, and representatives to speak with the students, and school board member Liz Downing shared a story and said, "I am so proud of the students, teachers, staff, and families of West Homer Elementary School. It truly is a special place well deserving of this recognition!"


The National Blue Ribbon Schools award honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students perform at very high levels or where significant improvements are being made in students' levels of achievement. Schools are recognized in one of two performance categories: "Exemplary High Performing," in which schools are recognized among their state's highest performing schools, as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests, or "Exemplary Improving," in which schools that have at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds demonstrate the most progress in improving student achievement levels as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests. WHE is recognized for "Exemplary High Performing."


"Our nation has no greater responsibility than helping all children realize their full potential…" said Duncan during a press conference announcing the 2012 winners. "Schools honored with the National Blue Ribbon Schools award are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers. Their work reflects the conviction that every child has promise and that education is the surest pathway to a strong, secure future," said Duncan.

Principal Marshall believes, "West Homer Elementary School works hard to provide every student with a well-rounded, world class education. We have an exceptional teaching staff with hard working students and parents who are dedicated to their children's success. Additionally, we receive great support from our community and students come to us from Paul Banks with a strong educational foundation that we can build upon." Marshall and WHE educator Shirlie Gribble will represent West Homer Elementary School in Washington, DC, when the Department of Education will honor approximately 219 public and 50 private schools at a recognition ceremony on November 12-13, 2012.

In its 30-year history, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed this coveted award on nearly 7,000 of America's schools.


KPBSD National Blue Ribbon Schools

  • Aurora Borealis Charter School, 2010 
  • Homer High School, 1988-1989 
  • Kenai Junior High School, 1983-1984 
  • McNeil Canyon Elementary School, 2004 
  • North Star Elementary School, 1993-1994 
  • William H. Seward Elementary School, 2008 
  • Soldotna Junior High School, 1982-1983 
  • Soldotna High School, 1982-1983  


20120918_HL_WHE_Blue_Ribbon_2  20120918_HL_WHE_Blue_Ribbon_3
 20120918_HL_WHE_Blue_Ribbon_6  20120918_HL_WHE_Blue_Ribbon_8