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Last updated: Thu. Jan. 16, 2014 - 01:20 pm EDT

FWCS school gets honors for raising bar

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FORT WAYNE — Cheers erupted and giggles ensued as Washington Elementary students took time Wednesday to give themselves a pat on the back for a job well done.

Students, staff, parents, state officials and Fort Wayne Community Schools leaders celebrated at Washington Elementary as the school was named a Title I Distinguished School by the National Title I Association.

Washington, 1015 W. Washington Blvd., the only school in Indiana to receive the award, was recognized for closing the achievement gap between minority and majority students.

“The staff of Washington Elementary is extremely dedicated to making sure each child is educated to high standards each and every day,” Washington Principal J.R. Ankenbruck said.

Washington’s free- and reduced-price lunch rate is 94 percent and the school receives support from local families and community organizations, Ankenbruck said.

More than two dozen special guests including parents, community partners and representatives from the Department of Education visited Washington students to show their support.

Superintendent Wendy Robinson asked students to pat themselves on the back Wednesday, hug their teachers and principal and thank their parents for bringing them to school.

“No matter what else is happening in the world, your school is a place that it’s hard not to smile when you walk in the door,” Robinson said. “ … At a time when everybody is worried about all this stuff that might be wrong, you just focus on all the things that are right.”

The national award comes with a $25,000 grant from the Indiana Department of Education and an opportunity for staff to give a presentation at the Indiana Title I Conference and the National Title I Conference in San Diego later this year.

School leaders said they plan to use the grant money to purchase 100 iPads to provide one-to-one technology for students in grades 3 to 5.

Each year, the National Title I Association recognizes two schools in each state, one for closing the achievement gap between student groups – the award Washington Elementary received – and the other for exceptional student performance for two or more consecutive years.

The exceptional student performance award was granted to Miami Elementary School in Lafayette, according to the association’s website.

Pamela Musick, elementary area administrator for FWCS, complimented students and teachers at Washington on their laser-sharp focus on improving everyday.

“Nobody took their eye off the ball.

You all held one another accountable and I’m so thankful for you,” Musick said.

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