Red-letter day for Paint Branch: School wins national award
May 26, 2000
Sara K. Taylor
Staff Writer

Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville is a National Blue Ribbon School Award winner.

News came to school officials late last week via congratulatory calls from U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D) of Baltimore and Reps. Albert Wynn (D-Dist. 4) of Largo and Constance A. Morella (R-Dist. 8) of Bethesda.

The National Blue Ribbon Awards recognize achievements in student performance, student-focused instruction, school organization and culture, challenging standards and curriculum, active teaching and learning, parent and community involvement, professional development opportunities, leadership and decision making.

The U.S. Department of Education began the awards program in 1982.

One of 198 schools nationwide to win national recognition, Paint Branch is one of four in the state selected for the award. The others are Baltimore City College High School in Baltimore, Bel Air Middle School in Harford County and Plum Point Middle School in Calvert County.

"This honor is certainly most prestigious," said Nancy S. Grasmick, Maryland's superintendent of schools. "We are proud of the standards set by these schools and the fact they act as valuable resources to other schools in Maryland."

County high schools named as Maryland Blue Ribbon School Award winners this year are Damascus High School in Damascus and Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville.

"The calls of congratulations started coming in late in the afternoon," said Betsy Brown, coordinator of the signature programs at Paint Branch. "We were jumping up and down, beating each other on the back, hugging."

Students were pleased with the recognition, as well.

"The students seem excited that their school was singled out as a top school," said Fred Lowenbach, Paint Branch principal.

The celebration will be low key for the time being, however. With final exams starting for seniors, "we have to maintain our focus," Brown said.

Paint Branch was named a Maryland Blue Ribbon School in December after applying to the U.S. Department of Education for consideration.

After being named a state Blue Ribbon school, Paint Branch was considered for the national honor.