Three Queens elementary schools have joined a prestigious group.
PS 66 in Richmond Hill, PS 46 in Oakland Gardens and PS 221 in Little Neck have all been awarded the Blue Ribbon honor by the U.S. Department of Education, the latest in a growing number of Queens schools to receive the award.
PS 66, located on 102nd Street in Richmond Hill, is also a city landmark. The school building opened in 1898 and is known for its trademark bell tower.
The institution was renamed for former First Lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis in 2002.
“We are very proud of this honor,” said PS 66 Principal Phyllis Leinwand, who sent parents a letter announcing the award last week. “Our goal has always been to strive for excellence in literacy.”
She admitted that the new rigorous state tests were a factor in helping her school achieve the academic excellence the blue ribbons are given out for. Her school’s teacher-to-student ratio is kept small, Leinwand admits, and that helps students with the tougher standards.
“It definitely does offset the angst of standardized tests,” she said.
Leinwand credited the achievement to her students, staff and the parents.
“I think that everyone here is a stakeholder,” she said. “We’ve really been swept up in the momentum.”
This year, 286 schools in the country have been designated Blue Ribbon institutions. Along with the three Queens schools, two in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan were also chosen.
“New York City is home to six public schools that today received the 2013 Blue Ribbon Award from the United States Department of Education ... as a result of their all-around academic excellence, and their success in preparing students for college and careers,” Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said in a statement. “I congratulate the principals, students, teachers, and parents at these six schools for receiving this honor; it is a testament to all of their hard work and dedication to student achievement.”
Last year, two Queens schools were awarded blue ribbons: PS 191 in Bellerose and PS 203 in Oakland Gardens. The latter school held a celebration ceremony last December in which local officials and Walcott himself attended to offer congratulations.
The winning schools will receive a plaque at a ceremony in Washington, DC in November.
Past Queens schools to receive blue ribbons include PS 41 and PS 159, both in Bayside, PS 173 in Fresh Meadows, PS/IS 178 in Jamaica Estates and Transfiguration Roman Catholic School in Corona.