Thanks to Beth Bily of the Scenic Range News Forum for sharing this story with us. Congratulations to Keewatin for its Minnesota Reward School designation as #1 in the state!! 

Reward Schools Logo“Look at all that orange out there!” Keewatin Elementary Principal Peter Hardy said welcoming visitors to last Friday’s “Reward School” celebration.

The event was well-attended by students and staff – all clad in orange T-shirt noting the school’s Minnesota Reward School designation – as well as local officials and state and federal representatives. Those in attendance filled the school’s gym for the hour-long achievement party and the mood was certainly festive.

The 2013 “Reward” designation, which was given to 131 schools in the state, carries special significance here. Just a year ago, Keewatin Elementary had “priority” school status in the eyes of the state – meaning it was performing in the bottom 5 percent of Title I elementary schools in Minnesota based on its Multiple Measurements Rating (MMR).  Keewatin was one of only three schools in the state that jumped from priority to reward status in that one year time frame.

Reward schools are those Title I schools designated in the top 15 percent based on MMR scores, which rate elementary schools based on student proficiency, student growth and achievement gap, according to information from the Minnesota Department of Education. Keewatin’s current MMR score of 74.96 out of possible 75, makes it the top Title I elementary performer in the state.

Credit for the achievement breakthrough, said Hardy, belongs to studentsKeewatin Elementary Students Celebrate and staff, who he said didn’t become discouraged by the 2011-2012 priority status designation. Instead, staff “shifted our focus” looked at where each student was and built from there.

“This was about you learning everything you could at the highest possible level,” Hardy told students.

Elected officials, including Nashwauk Mayor Bill Hendricks, N-K School Board Chair Barb Kalmi and state Rep. Tom Anzelc, turned out to praise how far the school had come in such a short time.

“This is all about you (students) and our staff,” Kalmi said. “Peter, thank you so much for your leadership.”

Those in attendance also were treated to a special visit – a video congratulations from U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. “This recognition is a testament to all of you,” she said.

The celebration concluded with a little physical activity from the student high achievers themselves as they danced and clapped to music in the gym.

WDIO also covered the event – here’s the link