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Frenchville elementary school named National Blue Ribbon School

FRENCHVILLE, Maine — The U.S. Department of Education this week named the Dr. Levesque Elementary School a National Blue Ribbon School for 2018. The school in Frenchville was one of only three in Maine to be recognized, with the other two being Falmouth High School and Yarmouth Elementary School.

“We recognize and honor your important work in preparing students for successful careers and meaningful lives,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in a video message blast to the honoree schools. “Congratulations on your students’ accomplishments and for your extraordinary commitment to meeting their unique needs.”

The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups, according to a press release from the federal Department of Education. The release adds that the award “affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.”

Levesque Elementary School is considered a Title I school with 37 percent of the attending students classified as English language learners and nearly 50 percent economically disadvantaged.

Lisa Bernier, the school’s principal and current superintendent, said the students know how to improve their academic test scores because they are part of the school’s data team.

Bernier said the school asks the students, “What do you need to do to take control of your learning, to take care of you? And then we provide the tools.”

The lower 25 percent of the student population “grew the most academically to raise our score,” according to Bernier.

Maine Department of Education Commissioner Robert G. Hasson, Jr. congratulated the three schools in Maine, and commended them for  “their unwavering commitment to education and student achievement.”

The U.S. Department of Education will celebrate the honorees at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., in Nov., and Bernier said she and two staff members will attend.

The school is on potato harvest break at the moment, but Bernier said students will be informed during an assembly on Oct. 9.

“The whole staff is ecstatic because we all worked so hard,” Bernier said.

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