St. Peter School celebrates National Blue Ribbon honor
By Mary Stadnyk | Trenton Monitor Associate Editor
Students in St. Peter School, Point Pleasant Beach, learned some very exciting news when they arrived to school Sept. 29.
During an early morning assembly and prayer service, their principal, Tracey Kobrin, announced that St. Peter School was one of 329 schools nationwide to receive the prestigious Blue Ribbon School of Excellence for 2016 by the U.S. Department of Education. The department will honor St. Peter School at a recognition ceremony Nov. 7-8 in Washington.
“It’s very exciting,” Kobrin said, as she described the energy and enthusiasm conveyed by the students, their teachers and staff who gathered in the cafeteria that had been decorated with blue balloons and tablecloths. Adding to the festivities was having Conventual Franciscan Father Robert Benko, pastor of St. Peter Parish, address the assembly and the school’s former principal, Kathleen Berlino, in attendance. The celebratory tone of the day continued as each student was given a Blue Ribbon bracelet and treated to cupcakes with blue frosting at lunchtime. Parents who could not be present for the assembly were invited to view the live videotape of the assembly on Facebook.
In a prepared statement, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., applauded the St. Peter School community saying, “It is wonderful to receive the national recognition for something we have known for a long time in the Diocese, namely that St. Peter’s School in Point Pleasant Beach is an outstanding school!”
“As Bishop, I congratulate St. Peter’s Parish, the friars, the administration, faculty and staff of the school, our students and their parents on this great achievement,” Bishop O’Connell said. “We often say with pride – as the national honor testifies – that our ‘Catholic Schools Have It All.’ We can also say with equal pride that our Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Trenton are blessed to have St. Peter’s among them and among the best in the nation.”
The Blue Ribbon award recognizes elementary, middle and high schools nationwide that have demonstrated high levels of academic achievement. To earn the award, schools must show that all students learn at an extremely high level. Standardized test scores must be in the top 15 percent nationally. Additionally, the school must show ways in which students are challenged creatively and academically. Of the 329 schools to receive the 2016 Blue Ribbon designation, 10 are in New Jersey, including six public schools and four private.
Kobrin pointed to St. Peter School’s mission statement: “In accordance with our Catholic identity and rooted in Gospel values, it is the mission of St. Peter School to provide a community of faith in which students will develop spiritually, intellectually, physically, socially and emotionally.” She credited that sense of community for the school’s continued success and academic achievement.
Kobrin spoke of how St. Peter School provides a supportive, nurturing environment where students are encouraged to discover their own unique gifts and talents while being challenged to reach their greatest potential. With that, the school maintains a rigorous curriculum and provides a variety of enrichment classes and opportunities.
“We maintain high standards for our students, and our curriculum supports that,” Kobrin reiterated. “We work to help our students achieve their potential and beyond in a warm, loving environment.”
“Our children seem to thrive here,” Kobrin said, noting that there are more than 200 students enrolled in the Ocean County school that was founded in 1923.
Offering her congratulations to St. Peter School on achieving a “well-deserved recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence in 2016,” JoAnn Tier, diocesan superintendent of Catholic Schools reiterated that each year, 50 private schools throughout the country are recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence.
“They are high performing schools,” Tier said. “The students placed in the top 15 in the nation in reading and mathematics as measured by nationally normal tests. The reading and math scores represent those from students in grades three through eight.”
Of St. Peter School, Tier said the Blue Ribbon honor “affirms the focused work, the creativity and innovative learning experiences that reflect 21st century learning standards in our Catholic schools.”
“The faculty invested in the success of students and created an environment in which every child can learn and grow,” Tier said. “The parents guided and motivated their children to succeed. The larger school community has demonstrated support for Catholic education through the years. The students in St. Peter School, like other students throughout the Diocese, enjoy a classroom climate that is stimulating, filled with discovery and expectations.”
Father Gabriel Zeis, T.O.R., diocesan vicar for Catholic Education, said it was “wonderful news” to learn that St. Peter School achieved a milestone in excellence.
“We must remember the good that is accomplished by one elevates us all. In saying so, all the schools of the Diocese of Trenton can be proud of this achievement as we all strive for excellence and give glory to God for all graces received,” Father Zeis said.
St. Peter School is the seventh Catholic school in the Diocese of Trenton to be named a Blue Ribbon school in recent years. St. Ann School, Lawrenceville, was awarded the honor in 2010, followed by St. Paul School, Princeton, and St. Leo the Great, Lincroft, in2012. St. Gregory the Great, Hamilton Square, was recognized in 2014, while Our Lady of Good Counsel School, Moorestown, and Holy Cross School, Rumson, were honored in 2015.