By Becca Heistad
The gym at Hilltop Primary School was a sea of blue Nov. 9 as students, teachers, parents and community members celebrated the school's 2012 National Blue Ribbon award of academic excellence. Hilltop was one of only seven Minnesota schools, and one of only 269 schools nationally, to receive the award this year.
Mound Westonka High School band members and cheerleaders ushered Hilltop students wearing bright blue T-shirts along a blue path and into the gym for a special Friday afternoon assembly. As a special treat, students were also greeted by the new White Hawks mascot as well as Super Grover, who had flown in from Sesame Street to join the celebration.
After the students found their seats, Hilltop Principal Nancy Benz led them in a well-rehearsed and enthusiastic chant: “We’ve got blue, yes we do! We’ve got blue, how ‘bout you?”
Benz reminded the crowd that the school was awarded the Blue Ribbon because Hilltop was recognized among the state's highest performing schools. She thanked the students and teachers for their hard work and the community members for their support of the school and the district.
Benz also explained that, while it was nice to be recognized for their academic achievements, “Hilltop has a lot of other reasons to celebrate.” A photo slideshow highlighted students’ other accomplishments, including art projects, performances and classroom activities.
Guest speakers at the celebration included Westonka Superintendent Kevin Borg, Minnetrista Mayor Cheryl Fischer and school board member Ann Bremer. Each speaker expressed gratitude to the teachers and educators of Hilltop for their superior work in shaping young minds and congratulated the students on their remarkable accomplishment.
To conclude the assembly, kindergarten teacher Jill Borg announced a surprise for the students in honor of the Blue Ribbon award: a blue spruce tree will be planted on school grounds to serve as a living reminder of the special recognition.
Following the celebration, students and staff bid a bon voyage to Benz and teacher Kathy Ireland who were headed to Washington, D.C. to collect the Blue Ribbon at a special recognition ceremony, which took place Nov. 12 and 13.