HAVERFORD – The gymnasium of Saints Colman-John Neumann School in Bryn Mawr was filled with students, teachers and staff Thursday afternoon waiting to learn whether their school would be named as one of the National Blue Ribbon Schools.

Watching as the 362 schools from across the country were named in a live-streamed broadcast, teachers and staff began throwing confetti on the students as their school was announced.

Saints Colman-John Neumann was one of two Catholic schools located in Haverford Township that received the prestigious recognition this week. The other school was Cardinal John Foley Regional Catholic School. This was the first year both schools received the recognition. A third Catholic school, St. Pius X in Broomall, also received the honor this week.  Springfield Township's Sabold Elementary was also named as a Blue Ribbon School.

“This Blue Ribbon recognition is a testament to all the stakeholders who provide a Christ-centered, quality education for our students and affirms the hard work of students,” said Cardinal John Foley Principal Mary Ann DeAngelo in a statement along with pastors Father Kevin Gallagher and Father James Cox.

The blue ribbon program comes from the U.S. Department of Education. Each year, outstanding public and non-public schools are recognized for high student achievement or incremental academic progress.

“This award is a testament to the whole Saint Pius community. Our faculty partner with families to bring out the best in each child We are committed to have every student excel and become the person God created them to be. Thus. We are a family fully alive with Jesus as our Center and Mary as our model,” said Sister Kathleen Touey of St. Pius X.

Cathleen Lamberto, principal at Saints Colman-John Neumann, said this was the first year their school received the recognition.

“It’s the most exciting thing that has happened – I knew since the day I arrived that this school is a special school,” Lamberto said. “This is my eighth year, and I am so glad that the hard work being put in by the students, teachers and staff is being recognized.”

According to Lamberto, the school strives for its four pillars each day of faith, community, service and academic service.

Once a school has received the recognition, they cannot apply again for five years.

Father Michael Matz, also from Saints Colman-John Neumann, described the announcement as an exciting moment.

“It’s a testament of this school community working together to offer the best for our kids and to see the results of that in their academic performance but not just that but also their spiritual formation, and they are developing themselves as good citizens, and it’s nice to see it acknowledged,” Matz said.

To be considered, each school has to fill out an application. Among the criteria are the TerraNova standardized test scores.

Christina Sanchez, a 7th-grade teacher at Saints Colman-John Neumann School, helped work on the application.

“The whole achievement itself is worth it when you see the look of satisfaction on the kid’s faces,” Sanchez said. “I can teach them all I want, but in the end, it’s their achievement.”

Springfield Township's Sabold Elementary was also named as a Blue Ribbon School.

 “This honor is symbolic of the determination and commitment to success that our students and staff display on a daily basis," said Principal Peter Brigg. "Sabold’s academic success is a product of hard work and a supportive community.”

In its 37th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has given the recognition to more than 9,000 schools. On Nov. 14 and 15, the Secretary and the Department of Education will celebrate with 312 public and 50 non-public school honorees at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

“We recognize and honor your important work in preparing students for successful careers and meaningful lives,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a video message to the honorees. “As a National Blue Ribbon School, your school demonstrates what is possible when committed educators hold all students and staff to high standards and create vibrant, innovative cultures of teaching and learning.”

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