This article originally appeared in the Friday Oct. 18, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.
State lawmakers presented the Valley View school district with a proclamation Monday, congratulating students and teachers on winning the prestigious National Blue Ribbon School award — again.
The U.S. Department of Education announced in September that Wilbur E. Lucas Elementary School and Valley View North Elementary School won National Blue Ribbon School awards. Valley View Elementary School and Valley View South Elementary School won the award last year.
“The blue ribbon, in my opinion, is the pinnacle of awards that a school can receive,” said state Rep. Terry Canales. “The fact that two of them are in Valley View is absolutely incredible. There’s not a greater testament to how hard the teachers, the parents and the administration are working.”
Just 26 public schools and one private school in Texas received the award in 2019.
Lucas Elementary received the Exemplary High Performing Schools award, which honors schools that perform well on standardized tests. North Elementary received the Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools award, which honors schools that close achievement gaps between different student groups.
Nearly 900 students attended Lucas Elementary and North Elementary in October 2018, when the district submitted award information to the Department of Education.
More than 80% of students at both campuses are classified as English language learners and are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
State Rep. Sergio Muñoz Jr. and state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, who addressed students Monday afternoon during an assembly at Valley View High School, discussed the importance of public education.
“I always talk about education being the best equalizer we have in our society. Education gives you knowledge. Knowledge gives you power. The power to succeed. Don’t forget that,” Hinojosa said. “I was once where you are. Working in the cotton fields. Picking tomatoes, onions. Washing dishes. But education gave me the opportunity to become a senator. To become a lawyer.”
Winning four National Blue Ribbon School awards is a credit to students, parents and teachers, said Superintendent Rolando Ramirez.
“Here at Valley View, not one but four of our campuses are recognized as blue ribbon campuses,” Ramirez said. “That’s half of the campuses that we have. It’s all due to the hard work of our students and staff. Our community working together with the district. And everybody doing their part.”
Elodia R. Chapa Elementary School in Mission, which is part of the La Joya Independent School District; Emma Vera Elementary School in Roma, which is part of the Roma Independent School District; Hidalgo Park Elementary School in Pharr, which is part of the Hidalgo Independent School District; Hilda C. Escobar/Alicia C. Rios Elementary School in Mission, which is part of the Mission Consolidated Independent School District; Sam Houston Elementary School in McAllen, which is part of the McAllen Independent School District; and IDEA Quest College Preparatory in Edinburg, which is part of IDEA Public Schools, also won National Blue Ribbon School awards.
No other school district in Hidalgo County, though, won two.
“Think about that. Here in Texas, there are thousands of schools. Thousands. Only 26 in the whole state were recognized,” Hinojosa said, referring to the 26 public schools that received the award. “And you are one of them.”