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Larimore Elementary celebrates designation as 2022 National Blue Ribbon School

Hoeven also presented the school’s Principal Kylie Swanson with a flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol “in honor of Larimore Elementary School in recognition of their being designated as a 2022 Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.”

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Sen. John Hoeven presents a flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol to honor Larimore Elementary School as a national blue ribbon school during a ceremony Monday at the school in Larimore. Students (L-R) Bryson Jonas, Gennaro Islas, Weston Rosenquist, Aubryanna Sternisha and Claire Gravdahl assist Sen. Hoeven along with principal Kylie Swanson and Mitch McCoy, president of the Larimore school board.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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LARIMORE, N.D. – At a school assembly Monday Oct. 3, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., quizzed Larimore Elementary School students on the number of elementary schools in the nation and, of them, how many received the designation of a 2022 National Blue Ribbon School.

Seated on the gym floor and waving their hands to answer, students shouted out guesses and learned — with some coaching from Hoeven — that their school is one of 130,000 elementary schools in the nation and one of 297 to earn the recognition.

“This is an incredible honor,” Hoeven told the crowd, “and the reason you got this honor is because of your teachers.”

He congratulated the staff, students, parents, Larimore School Board President Mitch McCoy, the school’s “Grandma Gayle” and several others for achieving the designation, which was announced last month.

Hoeven also presented the school’s Principal Kylie Swanson with a flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol “in honor of Larimore Elementary School in recognition of their being designated as a 2022 Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.”

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As he removed and unfolded the flag, Hoeven said, “This is your official prize your school gets because all of you worked hard to become a Blue Ribbon School.”

The assembly drew all the students in pre-K through sixth grade and staff members to the school gymnasium.

Hoeven also recalled his own elementary school days, naming each of his teachers. “After all these years, I remember them because what they taught me enabled me to do what I do in life,” he told the students, before asking what they wanted to be when they grow up.

He heard occupations such as teacher, policeman and scientist before one youngster shouted “pumpkin” to the amusement of the crowd.

“Your education is so important,” Hoeven said, while several times encouraging students to continue to work hard in their studies.

Larimore Elementary received the National Blue Ribbon School recognition based on the school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student groups. Students’ reading and math scores increased significantly over a certain period of time, Superintendent Steve Swiontek told the Herald in a recent interview.

The school is one of three in North Dakota to be named a 2022 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. The others are Linton Public School and Bismarck’s Roosevelt Elementary School.

Larimore Elementary has an enrollment of 200 students and about 35 staff members, including teachers, support staff, custodial and food service workers, said Swanson, who took over as principal in 2015.

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This year, Swanson has added five new teachers to her teaching staff, including recent graduates from UND and Mayville State University. She did not have trouble filling the job openings for the 2022-23 school year, she said.

“I was really blessed to find five excellent first-year classroom candidates. And we have some great mentor teachers in the building — they make my job easier.”

A good share of the teachers at Larimore Elementary have less than five years of teaching experience, she said.

The school “is a fun place to work,” said Swanson who started as a sixth grade teacher at the school and later worked as school counselor before being named principal.

“We’re definitely a family,” she said. “It makes coming to work enjoyable, that’s for sure.”

READ MORE EDUCATION CONTENT
Earlier this month, Attorney General Keith Ellison ruled that students whose families have school lunch debt cannot be denied a regular lunch or be forced to eat a substandard meal in place of whatever lunch is being offered that day at the school.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at pknudson@gfherald.com or (701) 780-1107.
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