“Every Moment Matters” – and what a moment it was as the student body of Winterset Middle School learned their school was selected as a National Blue Ribbon School.

Students gathered for the assembly in the school gym on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 26, in anticipation of the announcement. Winterset High School cheerleaders pumped up the crowd with a few cheers, then members of the high school band played the Winterset fight song. The excitement was infectious as the gym erupted with students and staff clapping and singing along. 

Soon the overhead lights dimmed and the crowd hushed; Principal Kevin Oswald began the presentation.

Oswald welcomed the classes and then pointed to a huge white video screen. Placed in the middle of the gym floor behind him, it displayed a graphic that read “Congratulations! Winterset Middle School has been nominated by Iowa to join the esteemed community of National Blue Ribbon Schools. The Iowa Department of Education has listed WMS as an Exemplary High Performing School”.

The final moment everyone had been waiting for came via video as U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy De Vos announced the National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2019. 

Winterset Middle School was recognized among the state’s highest performing schools. The crowd exploded as students, teachers and staff cheered their accomplishment.

The award honors schools for overall academic performance or for progress in closing achievement gaps among subgroups of students.

Wendy Sawyer

Former WMS Principal Wendy Sawyer dressed in blue to celebrate the Blue Ribbon School announcement.

Winterset Schools Superintendent Susie Meade was on hand to congratulate the middle school students on acquiring this high honor, and  also thanked the teachers and staff for their belief that each and every student can achieve at high levels.

Retired Winterset Middle School principal Wendy Sawyer, attired in all blue in honor of the Blue Ribbon announcement, also addressed the students. Sawyer applauded the students on their achievement and let them know she would be accepting the award on behalf of the school, at the U.S. Department of Education ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 14 and 15.

During that ceremony, 362 National Blue Ribbon Schools including Iowa’s will be honored.

Managing editor at the Madisonian.