South Bend, Ind. — St. Joseph Grade School, an educational ministry of St. Joseph Catholic Church of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, proudly announced today that it has been named a 2011 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. The National Blue Ribbon School award honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students achieve at high levels or where the achievement gap is narrowing. Since 1982, more than 6,500 of America’s schools have received this coveted award.
The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private schools based on one of two criteria:
- Schools whose students are high performing. These are schools ranked among each state’s highest performing schools as measured by their performance on state assessments or, in the case of private schools, that score at the highest performance level on nationally normed tests;
- Schools with at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds that improve student performance to high levels as measured by the school’s performance on state assessments or nationally-normed tests.
Accredited through the North Central Association, St. Joseph School offers a core curriculum that far exceeds state and federal standards. Students have achieved consistent high performance as measured by annual Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress (ISTEP). This is due in large part to the School’s emphasis on mastering the fundamentals of reading, writing, and mathematics. Traditional studies at St. Joseph School are complemented by classes in religion, music, visual arts, foreign language, computers, language arts, and physical education. As a member of the Inter-City Catholic League (ICCL), St. Joseph School students excel in athletic competition and the School promotes good sportsmanship and character building through sports. St. Joseph School students are also known for contributing their time and talent in service to the community. Students visit area agencies dedicated to serving the underprivileged such as the Christ Child Society and Hope Ministries. Other forms of service include visiting the elderly and the infirm at Holy Cross Village and at St. Mary’s Convent.
St. Joseph School was founded in 1854 as an educational ministry of St. Joseph Catholic Church by Holy Cross priest, Fr. Edward Sorin, C.S.C. who also founded the University of Notre Dame in 1844. In its 157-year history, St. Joseph Catholic School has educated the hearts and minds of generations of children from South Bend and surrounding areas. In the pedagogical tradition of the Congregation of Holy Cross, St. Joseph School integrates a solid faith-based formation with a strong academic curriculum that encourages graduates to excel in high school and beyond while sharing in the mission of the Church and contributing to the communities of which they are a part.
Mrs. Suzanne Wiwi, an alumna of St. Joseph School, has served as the School’s Principal since 1989. Owing to her outstanding leadership, St. Joseph School provides an exceptional learning environment for all of its students. The School has also witnessed significant growth in enrollment during her tenure. St. Joseph Grade School currently serves 446 children in grades K-8. St. Joseph School teachers meet the highest standards of advanced training and are dedicated to providing students with a quality education. The National Blue Ribbon award honors Mrs. Wiwi, St. Joseph Grade School’s faculty and staff, its students and parents, the Congregation of Holy Cross, and all of St. Joseph Parish. It is also an honor for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, which, under the pastoral leadership of the Most Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades, provides administrative, financial, and spiritual support for the 43 outstanding Catholic elementary and secondary educational institutions throughout its territory. St. Joseph Grade School is proud to share this particular honor with other Catholic elementary and secondary institutions in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend which have received the National Blue Ribbon designation in past years, including Christ the King School (South Bend), St. Jude School (Fort Wayne), Bishop Dwenger High School (Fort Wayne), and St. Joseph’s High School (South Bend).
St. Joseph School expresses sincere gratitude to Bishop Rhoades and to his Superintendant of Catholic Schools, Dr. Mark Myers, for their support, encouragement, and leadership.
The U.S. Department of Education named 304 schools as 2011 National Blue Ribbon Schools. The Department will honor the entire 255 public and 49 private schools with their National Blue Ribbon School awards at a conference and awards ceremony November 14-15 in Washington, D.C.