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Battle Lake Elementary School nominated for Blue Ribbon Education Award

Last week, Jeff Drake, superintendent of Battle Lake Public School, received an exciting phone call.

The Minnesota Department of Education called to notify him that the state would be submitting the Battle Lake Elementary School as one of eight candidates statewide for the United States Department of Education Blue Ribbon Award.

"It was really a nice thrill for the school to find this out," Drake said.

According to the U.S. Department of Education website, the Blue Ribbon Award "honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools that are either high performing or have improved student achievement to high levels, especially among disadvantaged students."

Drake said that what probably attracted the state's attention was Battle Lake's high test scores.

"In the MCA 2's last year," Drake said, "our test scores were among the very top in each grade level. In particular, our fifth grade did really well in both reading and science."

Battle Lake Elementary School students are exposed to both Spanish and Mandarin, which Drake said is possibly another aspect of the school's success that helped it stand out on the state level.

In addition to being nominated for the Blue Ribbon Award, Battle Lake's schools have won other awards for academic excellence over the past few years.

According to Drake, Battle Lake Public Schools were one of only two K-12 schools recognized by the Minnesota Academic Excellence Foundation for Spotlight on Schools.

The next step in the process, Drake said, is that the U.S. Department of Education will mail the school an application, which will likely arrive late-December to mid-January, Drake said. The school will then have two months to complete the application and submit it to the U.S. Department of Education.

As many as all eight, or as few as no nominated Minnesota schools could win the award.

"It really depends on competition nationwide," Drake said.

Last year, around 240 schools nationwide won the award, Drake said. Six schools from Minnesota were honored with the award: Byron High School in Byron; Greenwood Elementary School in Plymouth; Lewiston-Altura Elementary School in Lewiston; Norman County East Elementary School in Gary; Parkview Center School in Roseville; and Southwest Elementary School in Grand Rapids.

For more information on the Blue Ribbon Award or the U.S. Department of Education, visit