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After a tense six-week wait for the verdict, it was announced recently that H. Frank Carey High School has been named a prestigious Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the United States Department of Education. By winning the single-most sought-after prize for high schools, Carey has earned a spot in the pantheon of American high schools, an achievement earned by only 2 percent of national secondary schools.

"We here at Carey are both honored and privileged to earn this prestigious award," said Carey Principal Dr. Thomas Dolan. "The teachers, administrators, faculty and students here deserve it. They all deserve the recognition that comes with doing a job well, day in and day out. And we're glad the federal government has seen fit to agree with us. It is truly an honor."

The process began nearly a year ago, when the federal application was procured. Carey Principal Dr. Tom Dolan and English teacher Brian Merges - the documents's prime author - conferred and began discussing the application. Mr. Merges spent the summer composing a rough draft, answering the 40-odd questions posed by the government with in-depth responses. Then, come September, Dr. Dolan and Mr. Merges met on a daily basis after school and polished the document, with assistance from the majority of the school's teachers. The 40-plus page document was then submitted to the New York State Department of Education authorities, where they conferred on it the New York State School of Excellence seal, and forwarded it to the federal government. Months later, the Department of Education also gave it their approval. Next, came the final hurdle: a two-day site visit by a federally appointed representative.

April 6 and 7 were very exciting and important days in H. Frank Carey High School's history. These were the two special days where a representative of the US Department of Education came to observe the school. Gloria Jemison - a senior administrator for the Birmingham, Alabama school system and a veteran observer for the federal government's Blue Ribbon program - was Carey's esteemed guest for those two days. Mrs. Jemison was very excited and pleased to take a tour around the halls, peek into the classrooms and speak to numerous members of the staff, faculty and student body.

Her first day began at precisely 8 a.m. with a tour around the campus led by Carey seniors Pamela Lombardi, Bryan Baebler and Peggy Eyssallenne, sophomores Jennifer Randazzo and Sruti Bhaumik, and eighth grader Peter Luciano. Among the many stops during the tour were the computer rooms, including the Internet and multimedia labs on the third and second floors respectively. Mrs. Jemison was quite impressed by the fact that students here have such easy and convenient access to computers for research and writing purposes. Mrs. Jemison especially enjoyed the multimedia computer lab where students of the media arts class manipulated photos using the latest software.

After the comprehensive tour around all the departments of the school, Mrs. Jemison met with some of the teachers to ask about certain aspects of the school in greater detail such as the student activities, discipline, and the teaching methods. She began by praising the excellent manner in which the teachers and students conducted themselves inside and outside of the classroom. She was especially impressed by how hard the teachers worked with the children to help them understand and learn the new material.

During a meeting period scheduled with a dozen or so teachers, Mrs. Jemison asked about how the teachers interacted with each other and worked together. Mrs. Cannava stated how the faculty was unified, and got along well with each other. "Carey has been a great place to work in for 32 years; it has been a very nurturing atmosphere," said Mrs. Cannava. In addition, many of the teachers spoke about how they are integrating computer technology much more into the curriculum and using it more as a learning tool. Mrs. Jemison was delighted to see that the teachers were exceptionally supportive and involved in helping the students achieve success. When asked if anything could be changed about this school, the general answer among the teachers was smaller classes, including advanced placement courses.

Throughout the day, Mrs. Jemison was astounded by the events and activities taking place in addition to the standard academic school day, including the musical production, the abundant amount of school activities, clubs and co-curriculars, and the other education programs such as the Bridge Program. She certainly made the most of her time here by exploring all the aspects and things this school has to offer. From this momentous visit, more convincing evidence was shown to confirm our place as a national Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.


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