Friday, September 22, 2000

Two area schools earn blue ribbons

McAuley High, Christian Academy cited for excellence

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        When a dead tree on the grounds of McAuley High School needed to be removed last spring, parent Kim Colangelo grabbed a chain saw, called the other moms in the Mohawk Gardening Moms Club, and did the work.

        It is that kind of dedication and commitment to service by parents, teachers and students that Principal Cheryl Sucher believes helped earn McAuley a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence award.

[photo] Brandy Alexander (left) and Emily Cappell view human skin cells through a microscope Thursday in Mary Ellen Ohr's anatomy and physiology class at McAuley High School.
(Gary Landers photos)
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        McAuley, in College Hill, and Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy Middle School in Symmes Township were the only two Greater Cincinnati schools to win the prestigious award, given annually by the U.S. Department of Education. Blue Ribbon awards went to 198 schools nationally — including seven in Ohio — for the 1999-2000 school year.

        The award is presented to schools based on a 40-page application and an on-site visit. It is the highest honor a school can earn. Judges consider learning environment, family and business partnerships and academic achievement.

        Representatives from both schools are in Washington, D.C., this weekend to accept the award.

        “I think they (judges) were impressed with us being able to communicate to them our mission statement and the community of people who live it — our teachers, our staff, our students, our parents and our alums,” Ms. Sucher said Thursday before leaving for Washington. “We are con stantly working so that each of these young women become the best they can be.”

        With close to 950 students, McAuley is the largest all-female school in Ohio, drawing from all over Greater Cincinnati, Ms. Sucher said. Twenty-two school-sponsored clubs plus 10 sports and five adult groups are offered to students and their families. Each group does community-service projects. Service hours are required for graduation.

        “We like it because it's an all-girls school,” said Mrs. Colangelo, of Colerain Township. “They offer a variety of classes and it's a good atmosphere to build self esteem and a Christian attitude in the girls.”

[photo] A plaque on the side of McAuley High School proclaims its selection as a Blue Ribbon School.
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        Parent Donna Linneman of Harrison said she researched several schools before choosing McAuley.

        “What sold me the most were the (advanced placement) courses. Being a large school, they had the most,” Mrs. Linneman said.

        “They're challenging, but not so hard you don't know what you're doing,” said sophomore Leah Hull, of Wyoming.

        Cincinnati Hills is the first nonpublic middle or junior high in Ohio, Kentucky or Indiana to be recognized as a Blue Ribbon school since the program began in 1982, Principal Diane Blackburn said.

        “I think what's important about our school is we try hard to meet the developmental needs of the preadolescent child,” Ms. Blackburn said.

        The school has begun a summer student leadership institute for children who are officers in school clubs or in student government.

        Students are also offered nontraditional classes such as problem solving and communications. In the communications class they produce a morning radio show.

        “We try to make all activities productive and fun,” Ms. Blackburn said.

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