by David Amirsadri
As you are likely aware, East Greenwich High School was recently named a Blue Ribbon School for 2018, a proud achievement for the East Greenwich community. The National Blue Ribbon Schools program, created in 1982, last recognized EGHS in 1983.
The award, a response to the infamous U.S. Department of Education report A Nation At Risk, recognizes a school’s academic prowess, and/or its ability to “close the achievement gap.” Since its inception, the U.S. Department of Education has recognized around 8,000 schools–East Greenwich High School proudly counts itself among them. To be eligible to receive the award, the Rhode Island Department of Education submits a recommendation. A school must have high academic performance or the aforementioned ability to close the achievement gap.
I asked East Greenwich High School principal Michael J. Podraza about the nature of the award. When commenting on the academic performance of the school, he attributed East Greenwich High School’s success to “the collective effort of everyone in the EGHS community. Whether it is motivated and energetic students, a faculty who cares about their craft, parents who support the schools, and other staff members who take great pride in their reputation and their work. All of these combined to create a dynamic culture. We extrinsically and intrinsically expect success–it doesn’t matter whether it’s on the athletic field, on the stage, in the classrooms, or on the standardized tests–I think there is a culture of achievement.”
East Greenwich High School counselor Bob Houghtaling praised the award as a “wonderful testimony to the work of not just the faculty but the work of the community. It’s something that we can all take pride in. It’s also reflective of the community and the climate that’s been created here.” He lauded the “talented” and “inquisitive” nature of the student body, and said that he viewed the Blue Ribbon “not as an end, but as a gut check and a barometer.”
East Greenwich High School is one of three public schools in the state of Rhode Island to be designated a National Blue Ribbon School, with the other two being Colt Andrews Elementary School of Bristol, and the Jamestown School-Melrose of Jamestown. Cole Middle School was named a Blue Ribbon School in 2015. After a school receives the award, there is a five year waiting period before it is eligible to receive another. Both Cole and EGHS’s achievements in recent years clearly remind us of how lucky we are to be a part of this school community.