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Leavenworth school earns Blue Ribbon

Leavenworth school earns Blue Ribbon
Leavenworth school earns Blue Ribbon
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett speaks at Leavenworth Elementary School Friday morning during a ceremony celebrating the school being named a federal No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon School. LES is one of just 314 public and private schools in the nation, including only eight in Indiana, to receive the award this year. Photo by Alan Stewart (click for larger version)

Since being voted into office last November, a point of emphasis for Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett has been keeping students in the classroom.
Bennett gave the students and staff of Leavenworth Elementary School a free pass on that directive Friday as he helped celebrate LES being a federal No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon School in the LES gymnasium.
With the honor, Leavenworth joined fellow Crawford County Community School Corp.-mate Milltown Elementary, which received the award in 2006.
‘Today, I can proudly say that Leavenworth Elementary stands side by side with the best schools in the United States,’ Dr. Mark Eastridge, CCCSC superintendent, said just prior to showing off a plaque and road sign that read, ‘Blue Ribbon School,’ with the United States Department of Education logo and ‘2009’ beneath.
Three hundred fourteen public and private schools in the country, including only eight in Indiana, received the award.
‘There are 1,850 schools in the state of Indiana and 293 school corporations,’ Bennett said. ‘How do we get them all to be like Leavenworth Elementary School?’
Bennett said there are three areas in which LES excels.
‘There are no excuses. There aren’t kids who say they can’t learn, there aren’t teachers who say children can’t learn, and the community doesn’t say their children can’t learn.
‘There are no barriers. We find ways to get great programs to our students.
‘Finally, there are no limits on the expectations put on students here at Leavenworth. When you put those three together ‘ no excuses, no barriers, no limits ‘ then what you have is one of the best schools in the United States.’
Melissa Swan, a graduate of Leavenworth Elementary and Leavenworth High schools and evening anchor on WHAS 11 television, pointed out that there were only 32 seniors in her graduating class. She recalled her college days at Indiana University and bragged to fellow students that she could send a letter home to Leavenworth addressed simply to ‘Mom and Dad, Leavenworth, 47137’ and the note would arrive at its proper destination.
‘We don’t have a stoplight, or even a caution light, but I didn’t let (where I was from) get in the way of my dreams,’ Swan said.
She told the students that in 30 years in the television business, she’s met President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, actor-singer Antonio Banderas and has been all over the United States and two foreign countries.
‘For everything I’ve seen and everywhere I’ve been, it all started here,’ she said.
Swan gave credit to a few of her teachers, including Mike Esarey, Richard Eastridge and Mike Sieg.
Michael Key, principal at LES, acknowledged each staff member at the school, from teachers to cooks and custodians. He said it was his hope that Leavenworth Elementary could continue the success that got the school to Blue Ribbon status. He also thanked the PTO at the school both for handling the program’s arrangements and its work throughout the year.
‘They are a great group who has provided the necessary funds when our school budget money has fallen short,’ Key said.
Leavenworth, where 51 percent of students qualified for the free/reduced lunch program in the 2008-09 school year, saw 86.7 percent of all tested students pass both the English/language arts and math sections of the ISTEP+ exam in the fall of 2008. The increase of more than 30 percent since early in the decade is 13 percent higher than the state average.