Ila Elementary School’s Gator mascot may be green, but its school is “blue.” Blue ribbon, that is.

The elementary school has been recognized as a “2010 National Blue Ribbon School,” one of only 304 schools — 254 public and 50 private — in America and six in Georgia to earn the distinction.

Ila principal Lynne Jeffers said the award reflects not just Ila’s achievements, but Madison County’s.

“Although we are personally filled with pride and excitement concerning this coveted award, we recognize that Madison County has six other schools of excellence,” said Jeffers. “We work together in a team effort across the entire system to support each other and produce high student achievement.”

The Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools based on one of two criteria: high performance or improvement. Ila was chosen for being a “high performance” school.

“Over the past years, our student achievement scores have either remained high or have reflected gains that place us in the top 10 percent of schools in the state of Georgia in the CRCT testing of reading and math,” said Jeffers.

Jeffers said the Blue Ribbon achievement was only possible through hard work of students, teachers, parents and the school system.

“We feel that our success is based on students who work hard to attain high goals, exemplary teachers who set high expectations for every student, parents who support the learning efforts at home, and Madison County system support that enables us to add supplemental materials and curricular changes to support learning in the classroom,” said Jeffers.

Madison County interim school superintendent Allen McCannon said he is proud of Ila Elementary.

“They worked very hard in a lot of areas, just as other schools have,” said McCannon. “That’s a big honor. Being a Blue Ribbon school is a big deal.”

McCannon echoed Jeffers sentiments, noting that students, faculty and parents deserve praise.

“You don’t apply for it; you’re selected,” said McCannon. “It’s a national award and you’re selected based on student achievement and your demographics.”

McCannon said the award extends beyond Ila and reflects positively on the county’s four other elementary schools, as well.

“It’s a great thing for our system,” said McCannon. “Because our elementary schools have really tried to come together. They do a lot of things together. Ila has won this award, but they’re accepting this award on behalf of the school and the school system. We feel like we have excellent elementary schools.”

State superintendent of schools Brad Bryant praised Madison County and the five other Georgia public schools that earned the honor.

“These six schools are outstanding examples of how high expectations and hard work can lead to outstanding student achievement,” said Bryant. “These schools show that, regardless of a school’s size, geography or demographics, all students can achieve at high levels.”

Other public schools earning the “Blue Ribbon” award in Georgia are: Etowah High, Cherokee County; Gainesville High, Gainesville City Schools; Johnson Elementary, Floyd County; J.S. Pate Elementary, Crisp County; and Webb Bridge Middle, Fulton County.

These schools will be recognized at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., Nov. 15-16.

According to U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, “Blue Ribbon Schools are models of improved student achievement from which others can take inspiration.”

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