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COLUMBUS — It became official on Friday — Columbus High School is a National Blue Ribbon Award winning school.

“It validates what we have been doing and motivates us to keep going,” said George McKay, the school’s principal.

The National Blue Ribbon Award is given out by the U.S. Department of Education and is based on student performance in state-issued standardized tests.

For a school to compete for the Blue Ribbon designation, it must be nominated by the state.

Columbus High was nominated by the Office of Public Instruction and was the only Montana high school to get the nod.

In all, three Montana schools were given the Blue Ribbon, including Lincoln School in Lincoln, north of Helena, and Montana City School in Montana City, just south of Helena.

“I applaud the hardworking teachers and students at Columbus High School, Lincoln School and Montana City School. We’re honored to have them recognized at the national level for their commitment to academic excellence,” U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said in a statement.

“Montana jobs rely on a strong education system and I’m pleased to see these schools leading the way toward a brighter future,” he said.

McKay said the award is the result of proud academic tradition throughout the district and of a community that supports its schools.

“It’s a whole team effort,” he said.

Columbus High learned in November that the state had nominated the school for the award. They had the winter to fill out the application and give the U.S. Department of Education all the documentation showing the school’s record of academic success.

“It was quite an ornate little application,” McKay said.

The district had inklings as early as May that it was on the short list for the award, but word didn’t come until Friday.

It was validating to get the news, McKay said.

Staffers and students at the school put in a lot of hard work, and an award like the Blue Ribbon shows that it pays off, he said.

“This was a districtwide effort,” he said.



Business Reporter

Business Reporter for the Billings Gazette.