WILMETTE – The Romona Elementary School mustangs packed the gym on November 8 to celebrate the school’s recognition by the U.S. Department of Education with a National Blue Ribbon award.
While it’s rare for a school to win a Blue Ribbon award — according to district Superintendent Dr. Ray Lechner the chances are greater to become a professional athlete — Romona has won not one but two Blue Ribbon awards. The school was previously honored in 2006. And the district has received a total of five since 1991, Dr. Lechner told DailyNorthShore. Wilmette Junior High School was honored in 1991 and 2010, and Central Elementary School won the award in 2009.
Romona is one of six schools in District 39 and serves approximately 474 students in kindergarten through fourth grade. It is also the home of the district’s early childhood education program, which serves 68 preschool students.
Dr. Lechner and Romona Principal Cindy Anderson recently returned from a trip to Washington D.C. on November 6 and 7, where a ceremony was held to honor the 342 schools nationwide that received a Blue Ribbon award.
Schools are nominated by the State of Illinois based on student performance on state standardized assessments. To qualify for nomination, Romona was within the top 15% of schools in the state to receive the “exemplary high performing schools” designation.
At the ceremony, teachers and administrators praised the students for their hard work and expressed their respect for teachers, staff and parents. “This award is technically for the school but really honors the amazing teachers and the parents,” PTA President Jackie Singer said.
Susan Imburgia, a first grade teacher at Romona, noted that what made the school so special was the people. “I am most thankful for all of the people here,” she said.
Romona mustangs were not the only District 39 students celebrating the award, students from the Highcrest Middle School Wire Choir played orchestral music and the WJHS dance team performed. Teachers gathered in the gym all wore special blue t-shirts with the Blue Ribbon seal on the front and the school’s slogan — #RomonaRocks — on the back.
The students finished the celebration with a rendition of their school song Romona Rocks. R.O.C.K.S. is an acronym for Respect, Originality, Courage, Kindness and Sincerity and in many ways that captures the spirit of the school.
“The Romona Rocks says it all. That is the important part of the message. It is that sense of community that really resonates,” Dr. Lechner said.