Fort Smith School Receives National Honor

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Two local schools are receiving national recognition.

Both Immaculate Conception School in Fort Smith and Central Park Elementary in Bentonville are being recognized as a 2013 National Blue Ribbon Schools.

Balloons were flying high over the Immaculate Conception School Tuesday (Sept. 24).

"It’s the most prestigious award that a public or private school can receive,” said Principal Sharon Blentlinger.

It’s the first Catholic school in the state and the first elementary school in Fort Smith to win the award.

"The first thing that a private school has to do is they have to qualify, so to speak, by showing evidence that they have nationally norm tests that place them in the top 15 percent in math and reading,” she said.

In addition to high test scores, IC submitted an application to the Council for American Private Education Schools highlighting the school’s history and operations to win the award.

“First locally, I think all the other schools will see this on the news and say ‘What we need to do to get to that level and apply for this honor as well?’” said Sen. Bruce Holland, from Greenwood. “So, I think it could show a ripple affect across the state."

The school’s administration says this award is big for them and they would have never imagined receiving it the first year they applied for it.

“It's just a huge honor for our school,” said Blentlinger.

Four IC staff members will make their way to Washington, D.C. on Nov. 18 to receive the official 2013 Blue Ribbon Award.

Other Arkansas schools that received the award in the past include Bentonville High, Vandergriff Elementary, Forest Heights Elementary and Bellview Elementary.