Lake Shore and Severna Park elementary schools were among six schools to be named 2015 Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence today, making Anne Arundel County Public Schools the lone jurisdiction in the state with multiple honorees.

Eighteen county schools have earned the prestigious state honor given by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). Today’s announcement also makes the Severna Park Cluster the first in Anne Arundel County with all of its schools as Blue Ribbon winners.

Principals Linda Toth of Lake Shore and Lynn Birus of Severna Park were joined by several school system staff members for the announcement by State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lillian Lowery in Baltimore this morning. The other schools to receive blue ribbons are Pine Grove Elementary School in Baltimore County, Kempton Elementary School in Frederick County, Fountain Green Elementary School in Harford County, and Smithsburg High School in Washington County.

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.

“This award is a testament to the commitment and hard work of our students, faculty, and staff,” said Toth, who has been principal at the 308-student school since 2010. “We are constantly striving to ensure that the academic program is rigorous, and that we deliver a program that not only meets the needs of our students, but also pushes them to do their best.”

Through a “kids first” philosophy, Lake Shore Elementary School is one of five arts integration-focused schools in the county. By taking a challenging and creatively enriching approach, the school has been rewarded with stellar student achievement. More than 96 percent of Lake Shore students scored proficient or advanced in reading and 93 percent hit the mark in math on the 2013-14 Maryland School Assessments. There was also no achievement gap with regard to students receiving free and reduced-price meals or special education services.

Lake Shore’s success can also be linked to its strong parent, community, and business partnerships. The school’s volunteer program is very robust as more than 65 parents volunteer nearly 2,000 hours annually. Through a meaningful relationship with Anne Arundel Community College, the school receives mentors for students and interns for teachers. Students from nearby Chesapeake High School also chip in by role modeling for and working with students. With Daily Scoop, Target, Funding Factory, Ledo Pizza, Giant A+, Box Tops for Education, Lauer’s, and McDonald’s Lake Shore, special programs and events that inspire achievement and create opportunities are funded.

Lake Shore is the second school in the Chesapeake Cluster to earn the state blue ribbon distinction.

Severna Park’s achievement follows a distinct tradition of excellence for the Severna Park Cluster – all eight schools in the cluster have earned the state honor.

“Our motto is REACH, an acronym for Respect, Effort, Attitude, Cooperation, and Honesty – qualities that we try to exemplify and model for our students every day,” said Birus, who has been principal at the 387-student school since 2010. “Our teachers are highly-skilled professionals who constantly put the needs of their students before their own needs. That dedication is complemented by incredible parent and community support which propels students to reach beyond their highest potential.”

Student achievement is the norm at Severna Park Elementary School, as more than 98 percent of its students scored proficient or advanced in reading and math on the 2013-14 Maryland School Assessments. Such student performance places the school among the top 5 percent in the state, a status the school has maintained for the last seven years.   Through high expectations and compassion, Severna Park students are finding academic success in every student group.

Severna Park Elementary is one of the oldest schools in the state with a longstanding tradition of exemplary teaching staffs, community support, and a dynamic PTA.  Its robust volunteer program is involved at every level, from helping us with the “Chessie” morning reading program to keeping the school grounds beautiful.  Through strong business partnerships with the Chamber of Commerce, Homestead Gardens, Giant Foods, Safeway, Chick-Fil-A, FroYo House, Simple Sands Deli, Barnes and Noble and additional parent and community support, the school brings state-of-the-art technology into the classrooms and sponsors an impressive array of school clubs that teach everything from math to foreign languages to the arts to robotics.

Today’s announcement marks the eighth time in the last ten years that AACPS has been recognized for the Blue Ribbon honor, and the first time since 2000-2001 that the county has had two schools named at the same time.

Lake Shore and Severna Park elementary schools are now eligible to become National Blue Ribbon schools, a feat accomplished by 13 other county schools. Linthicum Elementary School was the most recent National Blue Ribbon winner in 2014.