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Three Dallas ISD Schools Honored for Earning National Blue Ribbon Awards

With a devastating pandemic resulting in widespread learning loss, Dallas ISD has had a tough year, but this week, some schools are finding a reason to celebrate.

Friday afternoon, three Dallas campuses will receive a National Blue Ribbon Scholar Award: Edward Titche Elementary School, Henry W. Longfellow Career Exploration Academy and Dr. Wright L. Lassiter Jr. Early College High School at El Centro College.

Dallas ISD held its own virtual celebration for the schools Thursday.

“You are a model of what truly is possible,” former Titche Principal Damien Stovall said in one DISD video. “The only limits that we have are the ones we set. And we chose not to set any.”

The annual National Blue Ribbon School Award, which is issued by the United States Department of Education, recognizes high-performing schools nationwide, as well as those where extraordinary progress has been made in closing achievement gaps.

Titche falls into the latter category, having nearly shuttered in 2017 for failing to meet state standards. Stovall said considering Titche was once rated the fourth-worst elementary school in Texas, it has made significant gains.

Titche, Longfellow and Lassiter were among 28 Texas schools and 367 campuses nationwide to earn the award this year, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s website, though the Texas Education Agency counted 26 schools.

In the 2018-2019 school year, 99.2% of Titche students were economically disadvantaged and 59.2% were considered at-risk, according to The Texas Tribune. Regardless of those obstacles, it still earned an “A” accountability rating for overall performance. (Scores were not given for the 2019-2020 school year because of the coronavirus pandemic.)

Stovall became a Dallas ISD executive director this school year, but he was Titche’s principal at the time of the Blue Ribbon nomination. During the virtual celebration, he told his former students they set an example for others in the district and for the community at large.

“Scholars, we love you. I do not want you to ever forget what this feels like right now because when you’re old, you are going to remember this,” he said. “But I want you to remember how hard you had to work to get here and I want you to apply that for the rest of your life.”

Former Titche Elementary principal Damien Stovall congratulates students for receiving a National Blue Ribbon Scholar award.EXPAND

Former Titche Elementary principal Damien Stovall congratulates students for receiving a National Blue Ribbon Scholar award.

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Longfellow and Lassiter were recognized this year for being “exemplary high performing” schools. Both received Blue Ribbon awards in 2014, according to a DISD press release.

In a prerecorded video, Dallas ISD District 2 School Board trustee Dustin Marshall congratulated Longfellow, which falls within his district.

“This speaks volumes about the commitment of teachers, staff, students and their families to grow the future generation of leaders who can excel both in and out of the classroom,” he said.

While students at these Blue Ribbon schools were celebrating their accomplishments, other Dallas ISD students were stuck learning at home.

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Monday, Caillet Elementary temporarily closed because of a coronavirus outbreak, according to The Dallas Morning News. Five infections among staff and students were reported last week and over the weekend.

Caillet will resume in-person instruction on Tuesday, with students and staff taking rapid COVID-19 tests the day before, according to The News.

It’s the second school to close this semester, the first being Hotchkiss Elementary in October. This comes as Dallas County saw its highest single-day COVID-19 count yet Tuesday, with an additional 1,401 cases, according to the county’s health department.

As of Thursday evening, Dallas ISD’s COVID-19 positive case tracker counted 930 cumulative cases, including 468 students, 369 campus staff and 93 central staff.

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