Blue Ribbon adds to spectrum of awards at Folly Quarter Middle School

Folly Quarter Middle School in Ellicott City has been in existence only 10 years, but has already gathered a collection of awards and honors that includes a Healthy Howard Gold Award and being designated a "green" school for environmental awareness.

On Monday, the Maryland State Department of Education will formally add blue to that color chart, recognizing Folly Quarter as a Maryland Blue Ribbon School.

"Winning the Blue Ribbon Award made Folly Quarter Middle School feel accomplished," said Rena Patel, an eighth-grader. "The students and staff worked extremely hard, and this award makes us feel we are doing things right."

State schools Superintendent Lillian M. Lowery will be at the school for an assembly celebrating the award with County Executive Ken Ulman, Howard County Superintendent Renee Foose and other officials, school board members and parents. The designation came in December, but Lowery's appearance is part of her "Tour of Excellence."

The Blue Ribbon program recognizes schools at state and national levels that reach high marks in performance, or significant improvement, in reading and mathematics based on Maryland assessments.

By that measure, Folly Quarter students are among the tops in the state. Last year, Folly Quarter students achieved pass rates that exceeded 95 percent in reading and mathematics for grades six, seven and eight, as well as in eighth-grade science, according to Howard County school officials.

Folly Quarter was named the state's top middle school by, an online kindergarten-to-12th-grade search and comparison tool.

The school was among othis is something that I really wanted to put all of my time into. nly six Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools cited for 2012. The win comes with a Blue Ribbon flag, an honors reception and dinner, an interactive whiteboard and a schoolwide pizza party.

But teachers and administrators, some of whom were around when Folly Quarter opened its doors in 2003, said the honor means much more.

"Winning the Maryland Blue Ribbon is more about the recognition of years of hard work than about an award," said Erin Ault, an English and language arts teacher.

"Many of the teachers at FQMS have been here since the doors opened," she said, "and we have worked diligently to challenge our students with high standards, support them with quality, personal instruction and grow professionally as a staff."

Principal Rick Wilson credited the school's success, in part, to parents who prepare the students for success "before they even enter our building." He said parents serve as models for their children to show the importance of a quality education.

For students such as Rena Patel, the school provides not only an academic experience, but a civic one.

"We are very involved in the community," Rena said, "and we will do our best to help each other. We have programs such as the Leo Club, food pantries and the Shakespeare Troupe.

"The Leo Club has been raising money and donating to the Grassroots Crisis Center," Rena said. "The teachers have helped students discover who they are and what they enjoy doing."

Wilson agreed the school has the ability to tap students' interests and energy.

Last week, he said, students began collecting items that will be used to prepare boxes for residents of emergency shelters, helping to make a difference "in the lives of persons that they will probably never meet."

"They don't have to do this. They aren't being graded on this," he said. "They simply know it is the right thing to do, and they want to help someone else — even knowing that this person or persons will probably never be able repay them or even say thank you."

"Youth are too often stereotyped as being self-centered and self-absorbed," Wilson said. "Many of our students continue to demonstrate, through their actions, that this is not the case."

The state's Blue Ribbon Schools are eligible to compete for the National Blue Ribbon Awards, which will be announced by the U.S. Department of Education in September.

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts
  • Copyright © 2018, CT Now