Bemis Elementary School recently received its second consecutive National Blue Ribbon School award from the U.S. Department of Education.

Bemis Elementary School recently received its second consecutive National Blue Ribbon School award from the U.S. Department of Education.

Photo provided by Troy Schools

Bemis Elementary awarded second National Blue Ribbon

By: Mary Beth Almond | Troy Times | Published October 21, 2020


TROY — Bemis Elementary School has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a 2020 National Blue Ribbon School, marking the second time the school has been honored.

This year, Bemis is one of 367 schools across the country, and one of 15 schools in Michigan, to be recognized.

Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year — either by the state’s education department for public schools or the Council for American Private Education for private schools.

State Superintendent Michael Rice congratulated Michigan’s 15 schools for earning what he called a “distinguished national honor.”

“Our Blue Ribbon schools serve as a shining model for every Michigan school striving for greater student achievement,” Rice said in a statement.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes public and private elementary, middle and high schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

Bemis Elementary School also received the award back in 2014. Schools are eligible for nomination after five years.

Bemis Principal Jeremey Whan said it’s an honor to receive the school’s second consecutive National Blue Ribbon award.

“In essence, we have earned a National Blue Ribbon now in back-to-back cycles, which is extremely rare,” said Whan.

Both years, Bemis was recognized in the “exemplary high performing schools” category, which requires schools to score at the highest performance level on tests referenced by the national norms in the most recent year tested. This means that schools must rank in the top 15% of all schools on state assessments in both reading and mathematics. Each subgroup of students at the school must also be in the top 40% in the state on state assessments. Additionally, high schools must have a graduation rate that ranks in the top 15% of all schools in their state in order to be considered a high performing school.

“For five years, the state of Michigan tracks your data on M-STEP in the areas of mathematics and literacy — so reading and writing — and to be in the high achievement area, you have to be showing growth in successive years in all of those areas,” Whan explained.

Bemis celebrates diversity, with over 40 different languages spoken by students, staff and families.

“When you have students who are awesome, parents who are amazing, teachers who are the best, and a supportive administration, I think you have the magical ingredients to really make a difference in the lives of children,” Whan said. “We’re working collectively to really try to move the entire group of students and the group of teachers in balance, moving them forward to try to get a little bit better every single day. I think if we get a little bit better every day, we are ultimately achieving a little bit of growth every day, and I think that formula has worked — as the data would suggest — because we’ve had 10 years of consistent growth.”

Bemis third grade teacher Jessica Taylor said the teachers work hard for their students.

“You do it for the kids and you do it because you love what you do, but it’s nice when you get the recognition as another confirmation that what we’re doing is making a difference,” she said.

Bemis fifth grade teacher Elliott Kern said the Blue Ribbon distinction is a representation not just of the teachers and students, but of the whole community.

“The Blue Ribbon award really shows the support that we have in the community from parents, the efforts that our incredible students put in each and every day, and truly how blessed we are as teachers to have such an incredible group that, day in and day out, are doing the best they can for kids, especially in current times,” he said.

In its 38th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools program has bestowed almost 10,000 awards to more than 9,000 schools, with some schools winning multiple awards.

Due to COVID-19, the 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony will be held virtually Nov. 12-13 to celebrate the 317 public and 50 private school honorees, which will each receive their plaques and flags via mail.

Troy Schools officials said the Bemis Elementary community will also hold a formal ceremony in Troy when the COVID situation allows.

For more information, visit the National Blue Ribbon School program website at