Vela congratulates Blue Ribbon Schools

U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela congratulated the four schools in his congressional district that are being recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools, Rising Scholars Academy in San Benito, Zeferino Farias Elementary in Alamo and two elementary schools in Brownsville.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced the awards on Tuesday. In all, six Rio Grande Valley schools were recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools.

The other schools were Preparatory Academy in Edinburg, like Rising Scholars part of the South Texas Independent School District, Mittie Pullam and Ruben Gallegos elementary schools in the Brownsville Independent School District, and Achieve Early College High School in the McAllen Independent School District, the only high school to win the award.

The Education Department recognizes all schools in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates: Exemplary High-Performing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests; Exemplary Achievement Gap-Closing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s student groups and all students.

Schools are eligible for nomination after five years. This is the second time that Preparatory Academy has received this distinction, as the campus is also a 2015 National Blue Ribbon School, STISD said. It is the first time that Rising Scholars Academy has received the distinction in the six years since its founding.

Preparatory Academy and Rising Scholars Academy are the two standalone middle schools in STISD. The campuses serve 7th and 8th-grade students from three counties in the Rio Grande Valley, Cameron, Hidalgo, and Willacy, through a rigorous academic curriculum, enabling them to earn above-grade-level coursework and develop the skills and habits necessary for success in higher learning while still in middle school, STISD said in a news release.

“I applaud the teacher and administrators of each school for their outstanding efforts to nurture, teach and train our future leaders,” Vela said in a news release. “During the pandemic, educators and students have faced countless setbacks and I am proud that these institutions have shined through and are recognized for their hard work and successes.”

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