Central, other local schools win U.S. Blue Ribbon award

The U.S. Department of Education announced the 2011 National Blue Ribbon Schools today, and Philadelphia's Central High is a winner.

The prestigious award honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools either for high levels of student achievement or a narrowing achievement gap.

“America’s long-term economic prosperity and civic engagement depends on our children receiving a world-class education,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement.  “National Blue Ribbon Schools are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers.  Their success is an example for others to follow.”

Sheldon Pavel, president - Central uses that term instead of principal - said he was thrilled by the award.

"It acknowledges an incredible amount of constant, daily hard work on the part of teachers and on the part of kids," Pavel said.  "It gives them affirmation that people outside of the building recognize the the quality of what they've done."

Central was the only high school in Pennsylvania to receive the honor.

"It's a nice thing for Philadelphia," Pavel said.

Central last won the award in the 1986-87 school year, when Pavel, who's been at the magnet school since 1984, shook President Reagan's hand in the Rose Garden.

In addition to Central, the other local winners are: Coebourn Elementary School, Brookhaven; Corpus Christi Catholic School, Lansdale; Nativity of our Lord School, Warminster; New Eagle Elementary School, Wayne; Pocopson Elementary School, West Chester; and Rose Tree Elementary School, Media.

No New Jersey schools in Camden, Burlington or Gloucester counties won the award.

The winners will be honored in Washington, D.C. in November.