WASHINGTON – Two Maryland high schools were named New American High Schools on Friday, the first time any of the state’s schools have received the national award.
Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Prince George’s County and Eastern Technical High School in Baltimore County were honored along with 11 other schools from across the nation at a ceremony in Washington.
The award, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, has honored 30 schools since 1996 for innovation and academic excellence.
Principals from both Maryland schools smiled broadly as they each received a large gold trophy for their schools’ accomplishments, which include high attendance rates and dropout rates of less than 2 percent, among other achievements.
“This award is a tribute to the whole school,” said Gerald Boarman, principal of Roosevelt. “They want everything that should be in a high school. We meet all of those needs.”
Both principals said that their schools’ achievements could be models for other schools struggling to improve.
“We think we can serve as a model for people. We believe in total integration of students in the learning process,” said Boarman.
He said Roosevelt, in Greenbelt, has 3,350 students and eight “Academy Programs,” each of which offer a variety of career-related courses in their field of study, such as architecture or engineering. Students choose career majors and minors, many of which give students the opportunity to intern in their field of interest.
Students at Eastern, on the other hand, are trained in a variety of skills to assure that they will be able to “shift with the economy,” said Robert Kemmery, the principal.
Eastern is a magnet school in Essex offering its 1,382 students a choice of 10 career majors, including allied health, business administration and computer drafting. Students must apply to the school and, if selected, are given an individual career action plan listing the courses they are required to take each year.
Kemmery said he attributes the success of the school to devoted teachers and community members.
“We have a staff who believe in the students and deliver on the promise,” said Kemmery, adding that the academic success of Eastern proves that schools can make great improvements in their curriculum.
“Transformational change is possible if you focus on advantaging students,” said Kemmery.
Boarman said he hopes the award will help Roosevelt develop more relationships with other schools and organizations in the community.
“We have an opportunity to collaborate with other schools and to set up networks with the New American High Schools,” said Boarman.
Education Secretary Richard Riley said at the award ceremony in the Old Executive Office Building that these schools help create the “productive citizens” that are necessary for the future workplace.
“New American High Schools are creative forward-looking institutions. Their success provides us with a healthy dose of optimism,” said Riley.
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