Viers Mill ES Named 2004 State Blue Ribbon School

December 2, 2004
Viers Mill Elementary School in Silver Spring has been named one of six Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence for 2004 by the Maryland State Department of Education. The schools will be among those competing in the U.S. Department of Education No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools Program.

Four of the award recipients were selected because they scored in the top 10 percent of schools in the state on the Maryland School Assessments. Two, including Viers Mill Elementary School, are economically disadvantaged schools that demonstrated dramatic improvement on the state assessments over at least the past three years and are in the top 30 percent of schools in the state.

About 60 percent of Viers Mill students participate in the Free and Reduced-price Meals Program. About 30 percent of students are in the English for Speakers of Other Languages program, with students from 44 countries who speak 32 languages.

"We were fortunate to be recognized as being the first Title I school in Montgomery County to have over 70 percent of both third and fifth graders reach proficiency levels in reading and math, based on results from the March 2004 MSA," said James Virga, principal of Viers Mill.

The achievement took a lot of hard work by parents, students, and staff working together.

"I have an incredible staff that is really dedicated to making sure that every student is learning what he or she needs to be successful," Virga said. "They work well in teams to plan and deliver instruction that meets kids' needs that is also aligned with curriculum and what kids need to be able to do on these assessments."

Virga also noted the support of the community and PTA, along with the school's business partner, the Gazette newspaper. "We've also really benefited from a lot of MCPS initiatives, including all-day kindergarten, reduced class size in first and second grades, and Title I support," he said.

Other state Blue Ribbon schools are Clarksville Elementary School in Howard County, Folger McKinsey Elementary School in Anne Arundel County, Rock Hall Elementary School in Kent County, Showell Elementary School in Worcester County, and Sparks Elementary School in Baltimore County.

Viers Mill also was one of seven MCPS Title I schools to be awarded more than $7,000 from the state in the Maryland School Performance Recognition Program. The school met both overall achievement and subgroup improvement goals.

The state Blue Ribbon schools will be honored at a banquet in Annapolis in the spring and will be recognized by the Maryland General Assembly during the upcoming session.

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