Two Alaska elementary schools have been named National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2022, the U.S. Department of Education announced Friday.
Huffman Elementary School in Anchorage and Delta Junction Elementary School are among 297 schools nationwide that received the prestigious title this year. Both Alaska schools were recognized for strong statewide test scores.
Molly Hickox is the principal of Huffman Elementary. She said family involvement and the dedication of teachers have been key to the school’s success, especially during the pandemic.
“To be named a Blue Ribbon School at this time, to me, is extra impactful because it’s been such a challenging couple of years,” Hickox said. “The work that the school staff did during the pandemic was really extraordinary.”
Delta Elementary serves the small community of Delta Junction as well as Fort Greely. Delta Junction has a large Russian-speaking population, and Fort Greely brings in many Spanish-speakers. There are more than 20 Ukrainian refugee students. It’s also a Title I school.
Delta principal Milt Hooton said that makes the award all the more special.
“Looking back on past winners of the Blue Ribbon award, you see a lot of charter schools and schools that are in areas that are a little more affluent,” he said. “To have a school like this, in this kind of a demographic, it’s kind of rare.”
Students are placed in one of three tiers at the beginning of the school year, which helps teachers track their progress and set goals for each student. Hooton said hiring bilingual teachers and staff has helped meet the needs of different student groups.
Last year, Alaska’s sole winner was Soldotna Montessori Charter School.
In the program’s 39 years, more than 9,000 schools nationwide have received the Blue Ribbon title.