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Meredith recognized for narrowing the achievement gap

Only one other school, the Albert M. Greenfield School in Rittenhouse Square, was recognized in Philadelphia.

Meredith Principal Lauren Overton speaks at the recognition party for the school’s designation at a National Blue Ribbon School.

On Monday afternoon, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, Superintendent Bill Hite and more gathered at William M. Meredith School in Queen Village to celebrate Meredith’s designation as a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.

Established in 1982, the award honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools throughout the country where students achieve at high levels or where the achievement gap is narrowing. Meredith is one of 19 schools to be recognized throughout Pennsylvania. Only one other school, the Albert M. Greenfield School in Rittenhouse Square, was recognized in Philadelphia.

“The National Blue Ribbon Program honors public and private schools where students achieve high learning standards and are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gap,” said the school’s principal, Lauren Overton. “This coveted award affirms the hard work of our students, teachers, support staff, families and surrounding community.”

Meredith is a school with many hallmarks that make it a caring environment for students. Each year, the school puts on a student-run musical and hosts a Harvest Feast that allows families to feature cuisine that is traditional in their homes. It also focuses on the importance of cultural competency and values social justice learning, and every bathroom stall in the building is labeled “Gender Neutral” to ensure a welcoming and safe environment for all students.

“Education is the key to unlock the world, a passport to freedom,” said Denise Sanchez, a very well-spoken eighth grader at Meredith. “Meredith School has taught me that this is true. Throughout my nine years here at Meredith, I have learned that knowledge is power. This incredible community of teachers, students, families and caring adults have inspired my love for learning and curiosity. My teachers have encouraged me to formulate my opinions and stand up for what I believe in. My peers have challenged my faiths and allowed me to see the world through different perspectives.”

Hite thanked the students and staff for all their hard work.

“You have been named one of the top schools in the country and that’s something to be very proud of,” he said.

Kenney also spoke at the event.

“As I look out into this crowd, it makes me feel very happy because sometimes being mayor is really, really hard,” he told the students, “but when I come to things like this and I look at all these beautiful faces, all this diversity — this is what Philadelphia looks like. This is what America looks like and I’m really really proud that you’re in our city and that this school is such a good school.”

After all the speeches, Mummers from the Avalon String Band performed “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and the Eagles fight song, which got the students singing along.

“You had to get the OK from the Department of Education, not from just the state, but from the federal government,” school board member Julia Danzy told the students. “That means a lot. … I want to commend you for all that you’ve done, and I know that you will continue to maintain this and that it will be an outstanding accomplishment that we’ll be able to say 10 years from now that Meredith is still a Blue Ribbon School. I am so proud of you.”

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