Long Grove’s Kildeer School celebrates excellence, Blue Ribbon
Kildeer Countryside School students celebrate Nov. 27 during a ceremony for their 2012 National Blue Ribbon School award. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 7, 2012 12:44PM
LONG GROVE — Proof that Kildeer Countryside Elementary School is delivering a top-notch education could be heard last week on a sound meter.
The school held a ceremony Nov. 27 to celebrate its reception of the Blue Ribbon, the highest honor given by the U.S. Department of Education. During the ceremony, the loudest applause came at the end, when the school mascot, Champ the Cougar, ran into the gymnasium. Roaring cheers also filled the gym at the introduction of Kildeer principal Jennifer Smith and the school’s janitorial staff.
“Your school brings honor and recognition to our entire community,” said Kildeer Village President Nandia Black, one of several public officials who took part in the ceremony.
The honor began Sept. 7, when Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that Kildeer Countryside, 3100 Old McHenry Road in Long Grove, was one of 219 public schools nationwide to receive this year’s top recognition. After the ceremony, District 96 School Board president Marc Tepper said that learning of the award was one of the highlights of his year.
“It just brings a smile to your face,” Tepper said. “Couldn’t be more thrilled.”
It is the fourth Blue Ribbon District 96 has earned. Twin Groves Middle School won the first in 2007, Ivy Hall Elementary followed suit in 2008 and Woodlawn Middle achieved the honor in 2009, but Kildeer’s marked the first award under the Department of Education’s new rules. Districts are no longer allowed to self-nominate their own candidates, a move that came with a mountain of federal paperwork to be filled out. Now, nominations come from each state’s board of education.
Tepper said part of what brought Kildeer Countryside to the Illinois State Board of Education’s attention was its students’ performances on the Illinois Standard Achievement Test. For the past three years, more than 98 percent of the Cougars have met or exceeded state requirements.
“I like to be boastful ... but not too much bragging ... but, we’re a great school district,” Tepper said. “There’s not a whole lot of room to go any higher.”
He said district officials first learned of the ISBE’s nomination about a year ago. Then school and district officials still had to spend nearly three months on the paperwork. Smith flew to Washington, D.C. in November for the ceremony at which she received the actual Blue Ribbon, which now hangs at the school.
“We have something to celebrate today,” Smith told her students at the assembly. “We are celebrating excellence. We are truly a premier school.”
“It’s an absolute honor to be here,” added David Stolman, president of the Lake County Board, after he read a proclamation from the board recognizing Kildeer Countryside.
District 96 superintendent Julie Schmidt said the award now hangs at Kildeer Countryside, but everyone has been aware of the school’s excellence for a long time.
“Blue looks great on you,” added Black, which ignited another roar of applause from the students, who were wearing blue T-shirts.
Outside the school, the small cougar statue that stands next to the front door was adorned with its own blue ribbon.