Linthicum Elementary School became the county’s 16th Maryland Blue Ribbon School of Excellence today when it was announced as one of six schools to receive the prestigious honor at a ceremony at the Maryland State Department of Education in Baltimore.

Board of Eduation Vice President Debbie Ritchie, Interim Superintendent Mamie J. Perkins, and other school system officials joined Principal Fran Nussle and several school staff members for the announcement this morning. The other schools to receive blue ribbons are Frost Elementary School in Allegany County, Western School of Technology & Environmental Science in Baltimore County, Northern Garrett High School in Garrett County, Cashell Elementary School in Montgomery County, and Robert Goddard French Immersion Elementary/Middle School in Prince George’s County.

“This is just an incredible honor because it recognizes the tremendous hard work of so many people inside and outside of our school building,” said Nussle, who has been principal at the 450-student school since 2006. “We have an outstanding staff, hard-working students, dedicated parents, and a community that supports us in so many ways. Every one of them has a part of this award.”

The Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors schools that excel or significantly improve in reading and math exams as measured by state assessments. In order to achieve Blue Ribbon status, schools must meet standards established by the Maryland and U.S. departments of education.

The school’s intense focus on increasing rigor and providing differentiated support for students has been met with outstanding success, with 97.8 percent of students scoring proficient or advanced in math and 96.9 percent hitting the mark in reading on the 2012-13 Maryland School Assessments. There was virtually no achievement gap with regard to students receiving free and reduced-price meals, as 98.1 percent were proficient or advanced in math and 96.1 reached the mark in reading. Overall, 59.1 percent of students scored advanced in math and 57.3 precent were advanced in reading.

Linthicum has cultivated many external partnerships with its community and business partners, including mentor programs for students with BWI Doubletree Hotel and AETNA employees. The school is a Professional Development School for Goucher College, and students from nearby North County High School work with Linthicum students as well.

The school’s PTA has been integral to its success and has supported teachers through a variety of initiatives, including raising funds to purchase SmartBoards for every classroom to increase the use of technology in lessons.

Linthicum is the 11th county elementary school to earn the award, and the first in the North County cluster. It is the seventh time in the last nine years and 11th time since 2000-2001 that the county has had a Maryland Blue Ribbon School.

Linthicum is now eligible to become a National Blue Ribbon School, a feat accomplished by 12 other county schools. Crofton Meadows Elementary School was the most recent National Blue Ribbon winner in 2012.