Lovell High is ranked as one of the best

Motivated students, great teachers, good leaders and a supportive community have won Lovell High School national recognition as one of the best performing schools in the country.

The U. S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, officially recognized Lovell High School as a National Blue Ribbon School for 2013 this week. The school was one of three schools in the state of Wyoming ranked as one of the highest performing schools in the country. The designation is based primarily on assessment data, such as high scores on recent PAWS and ACT tests. It also takes other factors into consideration such as progress in improving student performance on state assessments in the past five years, low dropout rates, high graduation rates and many other contributing factors.

“We are very proud of Lovell High School being named a National Blue Ribbon School,” said Big Horn County School District No. 2 Supt. Dan Coe. “This award recognizes the hard work and commitment to excellence by board members, administrators, staff, students and parents providing the best quality education for each student.”

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program award recognizes public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students either achieve very high learning standards or are making notable improvement toward those standards. Since 1982, the U. S. Department of Education has sought out and celebrated what it refers to as great American schools. The National Blue Ribbon School award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families and communities in outstanding schools. It is one of the highest national honors a school can achieve.

“I’m really excited to get this recognition for our students and our staff,” said LHS Principal Scott O’Tremba. “I think the great thing about this award is that a lot of people have worked really hard to achieve it. That includes everyone involved, including the school board, the school leadership team, the community and parents. It is something all of us can celebrate and be proud of as a team.”

In the school year 2010-11, LHS had the highest graduation rate in the state. Daily attendance is normally 95 percent or higher. The school is consistently ranked among the top performing schools in PAWS with especially high scores in math and science. Students consistently test high on the ACT test and recently outranked the state averages on the test in every category. Additionally, a very high percentage of students participate in extra-curricular activities and win numerous awards in those activities.

During the past five years, the school has made a concerted effort to adhere to the standards and practices outlined in the Advanced School Improvement program. To that end, staff, students and parents put their heads together on a regular basis to analyze test data and to set goals for reading, writing, math and science improvements for each and every student in the school.

A building intervention team meets on a regular basis to identify at-risk students and to find solutions to help those students.

In reading alone, the school increased proficiency from 49 percent in the 2007-08 school year to an impressive 92 percent proficiency in 2011-12.

Students have also demonstrated great strides in math with 80 percent of the high school students testing proficient or advanced on the PAWS test during the past two school years.

A great deal of effort is invested in engaging families and the community in school programs. Teachers use a program called PowerSchool to communicate real-time grades, comments and attendance information to parents, as a part of an on-going effort to keep parents in the loop of their child’s educational process.

The district’s board of trustees defines high-level expectations for each individual student and relatively small classrooms that average around 17 students make that sort of one-on-one attention possible.

“Kudos to Principal Scott O’Tremba and the high school staff for this achievement,” said Coe. “They will be the first to say that it’s a total team effort, not only within the high school but also district wide. It starts with kindergarten and the entire K-12 system and culminates with this kind of recognition at the high school level. It involves students, staff, parents and our school board. It is a total community effort.”

O’Tremba said he was surprised because he didn’t know a whole lot about the award and wasn’t expecting to win. At the same time, he said he is not surprised at all because he has seen teachers and students make steady progress toward being the best-of-the-best the entire time he has served as principal at the school, which has been around eight years.

“Over the years I have seen our test scores increase, our attendance improve,” said O’Tremba. “We have received excellent scores during our accreditation. So, in that sense this recognition of that effort is not a surprise. The entire student body and staff have worked very hard to earn this award.”

The public is invited to a special assembly to be held on Tuesday, Oct. 1, at 10 a.m., in the Johnny Winterholler Gymnasium at Lovell High School, where the honor will be officially bestowed upon the school by a state school official.

Additionally, Secretary Duncan has invited two representatives (O’Tremba and teacher or staff member) to attend a special ceremony in Washington, D.C., Nov. 18 – 19, where the school will be presented with the National Blue Ribbon Schools plaque and flag as symbols of its recognized status. For many schools, a national blue ribbon flag waving over the school is a symbol of excellence. O’Tremba said he looks forward to flying it proudly over the school as a reminder of the hard work the students and staff are doing to be the best that they can be.

by Patti Carpenter