Homer Alaska - Schools

Story last updated at 7:07 PM on Wednesday, September 19, 2012

WHES celebrates national award

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer


Photo by McKibben Jackinsky

Sixth-graders Ellie Syth and Marissa Ann Geissler celebrate West Homer Elementary School's achievement as a Blue Ribbon School at a school assembly Sept. 13.

Following the lead of Dr. Steve Atwater, superintendent of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, West Homer Elementary School's 224 third- through sixth-grade students made it clear what they think of their school.

"West Homer rocks," they shouted during a Sept. 13 assembly.

The cause for celebration was the school's designation as a U.S. Department of Education National Blue Ribbon School, one of 269 schools in the nation this year to receive that honor. The award recognized the school's overall academic excellence.

"The reason is the students we have here, the teachers we have here, the parents we have here, the community we have here," WHES Principal Raymond Marshall told the youngsters.

In a letter to the school, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, "Your school is a model of excellence."

Liz Downing, who represents Homer on the Kenai Peninsula Borough School Board, also praised the students. In a letter to the school, Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, former chairman and current member of the House of Representatives' Education Committee, said he frequently hears of concerns from school districts around the state.

"I am proud to use West Homer Elementary School as an example of what works well," Seaton said.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski also sent her congratulations all the way from the nation's capital in a letter read by Michelle Blackwell, Murkowski's special assistant.

"I want you to know your achievement is recognized here in Washington, D.C.," said Murkowski.