Urbana High was named a 2019 National Blue Ribbon School by the United States Department of Education in September. Out of the 362 public and private elementary, middle and high schools recognized this year, Urbana was the only high school in the state to receive the national recognition.
“I was thrilled and thrilled for all the students and the staff who worked very hard at our school,” said UHS Principal David Kehne.
“… It is quite an honor. We are the fifth Frederick County high school to earn this honor, and that to us is an important point because we do think we are a part of a very strong system. Being the only high school this year makes us feel good about what we are doing, not only in terms of strong academic achievement but what we are doing in terms of school climate and culture.”
The other county high schools to earn the designation are Frederick and Linganore High in 1993, Gov. Thomas Johnson High in 1991 and Middletown High in 1987.
The school, with just over 1,800 students and 86 teachers, was named a Maryland Blue Ribbon School in December 2018, one of only six recognized across the state. An assembly featuring state and local officials was held in April 2019 to celebrate the designation.
Besides a Maryland Blue Ribbon School flag, the school also received supplies that can be used in classrooms through a state sponsor. They were also gifted a smart board with an estimated value of $7,500, which has not arrived yet.
In order to achieve state recognition, a school must have students who achieve and maintain high academic goals or have made strides to close the achievement gap especially for disadvantaged or minority students.
Kehne noted national recognition as a part of the Blue Ribbon program has been a long-term goal dating back several principals. The national application process looks at more holistic descriptions of the school.
“We had to describe what curriculum instruction and assessment looked like at our school,” Kehne said. “We had to talk about how we connect the curriculum to career-readiness standards.” The application also asked for staff to discuss how they provide appropriate intervention and services for each student in different categories.
A committee of faculty, support staff and administrators prepared the national application. “One of the greatest things to come out of that was we all revisited the shared understanding we have as far as our school’s mission, our school’s values and we really worked on incorporating our school’s values—and that is something that I think every student here knows that our four values are respect, unity, integrity and pride,” Kehne said. “We use those words directly and we also allude to them often in our description of the things we do at Urbana.”
Kehne will be traveling to National Harbor for a recognition luncheon ceremony at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center on Nov. 15 as well as participating in a series of workshops and symposiums.