So Staples is a Blue Ribbon high school — one of only 2 in Connecticut. (The other is right next door: Weston High.)
One part of me says “meh.” I’ve always downplayed these types of rankings — whether Staples was #1 (Connecticut Magazine, a couple of years ago), or #234 (Newsweek, which before it abandoned its print edition ranked schools based on a spectacularly arbitrary system that placed heavy emphasis on the number of AP tests taken — no matter the scores — as well as, I think, dice rolls and eyes of newt).
But another part of me says “sweet!” Blue Ribbons are awarded by the US Department of Education. They include hard data, like standardized test scores (boo!) and attendance rates. But principal John Dodig also had to write 8 essays, on topics ranging from curriculum to instructional methods.
It took a ton of time, but Dodig feels the recognition is worth it. (Never one to resist a jab at federal and state mandates like teacher evaluations as measures of “excellence,” he suggests that Blue Ribbon schools be exempt from those mandates for 3 years.)
Dodig is right. Being named a Blue Ribbon school is a big deal.
It’s recognition that Staples’ emphasis on the “4 As” — academics, arts, athletics and activities — means something. It’s validation that the school’s commitment to personalization pays off. It’s acknowledgment of the hard, excellent work that goes on every day in Westport’s 5 elementary and 2 middle schools.
And it’s great testimony that — despite occasional calls to the contrary — our town’s commitment to education remains strong, steadfast and supreme.