Linden school to join National Blue Ribbon Schools Program

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LINDEN, NJ — Linden’s School No. 5 elementary school has been selected to join the prestigious National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, a coveted designation from the U.S. Department of Education that celebrates excellent schools and effective educators. District administrators, Board of Education President Gregory R. Martucci, Principal Laura Scamardella and faculty were at the school’s gymnasium on Thursday, Sept. 24, to celebrate the school’s achievement.

The other eight New Jersey public schools receiving the 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools designation are Lillian M. Steen Elementary School in Bogota; Henry B. Milnes Elementary School in Fair Lawn; Gould School in North Caldwell; County Prep High School, Hudson County Schools of Technology, in Jersey City; Old Turnpike Middle School in Tewksbury Township; Clark Mills School, Manalapan–Englishtown Regional School District; Riverview Elementary School in Denville; and Island Heights Elementary School in Island Heights.

According to a media release from Linden’s public schools discussing this academic feat, School No. 5 is an elementary school for kindergarten through grade five chosen as an “Exemplary High Performing School,” based on state assessment data, student growth scores, absenteeism rates and its graduation rate. School No. 5 is one of just nine schools in New Jersey and 367 schools in the nation selected for this honor in 2020.

“School No. 5 is being inducted into the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program. They’ve become a National Blue Ribbon School, and that’s a huge accomplishment,” Linden Mayor Derek Armstead said on Sept. 24. “It just speaks to all of the good things that they’re doing here in the school. This is the first time that this has been done in the history of this town, so it’s huge. It happened right here at School No. 5 and right in the heart of my community. This achievement says one thing about our town … that we have some very good teachers, and we also have very good students, as well.

“I’m excited,” said Armstead, who attended the event. “I’m excited because, if it happened once, it could happen again. Good things should be contagious, and we want to make sure that some of the other schools take a good look at this and say to themselves, We can do it, too. For this event, my expectations are to be here, show the school system and the people here at School No. 5, the teachers and the staff, that I’m here and the Mayor’s Office is in full support of all their accomplishments and all of their endeavors.”

Scamardella was honored with a bouquet of flowers after the school’s selection. Teachers Julie Siegal, Kayla Miller and Jayme Perezluha, who are members of the Blue Ribbon School application committee, were also in attendance to show their support of the principal for this accomplishment.

“Today, School No. 5 was recognized as a Blue Ribbon School of excellence,” said Scamardella during the event on Sept. 24. “We were recognized through our academic achievement and excellence of our students. I am in amazement. I am so proud and humbled to receive this recognition, along with my staff.”

According to the media release from Linden public schools, during the nearly yearlong selection process for this honor, school and district administrators completed a lengthy application with information about student engagement, community outreach, teacher support, school leadership and strategies for academic success, as well as a host of data on curriculum and instruction, attendance, staff size and demographics.

“School No. 5 being recognized as a 2020 Blue Ribbon School of Excellence gives us a true feeling of pride,” Miller, Perezluha and Siegal, who worked with Scamardella on the application, said in a statement on Sunday, Sept. 27. “Every staff member at School No. 5 works tirelessly every day, and this award is a culmination of all of our collective efforts to be the teachers that our students and families deserve. We will relish this for years to come.”

“Today’s event is very good, because, last year, when the actual state scores came in, I almost had to double-take for this school because they literally doubled some of the elementary schools that were going on,” Martucci said during the event on Sept. 24. “As an educator myself for 47 years, whatever they were doing here, they were doing correctly.

“They were taking the instruction that they’ve had. They were taking the teachers that they had and how they were presenting the instruction to the students, and the students were grasping it, moving with it and moving forward to the next step educationally.”

“It was absolutely amazing, because you do not see these numbers every day,” Martucci said of the school’s state scores, which had doubled. “These numbers were not gradually 10 percent; these were going up almost 40, 45 percent, which educationally is unheard of in today’s world. So I congratulate the principal, her staff and the students on everything at which they’re doing here, because what they’re doing is the right thing and that’s what education is all about.

“This is about progressing up the ladder to a point in which you become competitive when you’re 17-years-old, go out into the workforce and be competitive with the next person that you’ll be competing against. I’m extremely proud of the whole staff, school, principal and especially, the kids.”

Photos by EmilyAnn Jackman and Courtesy of Gary Miller