The day Principal Sullivan came on the announcements blaring the Husker Football tunnel walk song, the entire school sat in confusion. She went on to announce that Marian won, for the third time, one of the highest honors possible for a high school. And it’s arguably a bigger deal than a Husker Football win.
The National Blue Ribbon Schools Award was given to 367 schools in the entire country this year in recognition of academic achievement. Principal Susie Sullivan ‘80 has always emphasized student successes. “You ladies really don’t know how good you are. I always tell all of you that you’re a big deal, and you are!” she said.
The road to the Blue Ribbon has been quite long and winding. “First of all, you have to qualify just to apply. Your overall math and reading scores on a standarized test have to meet certain minimums,” Marian’s president, Ms. Mary Higgins ‘69, said. “We blew reading out of the water. The requirement was right around 24, and ours is usually around 27. It’s our math score that we’re just right in the zone, but we hadn’t hit the number yet,” Sullivan said.
Next, the school was given an application to fill out, which ended up being 21 pages long and involved a lot of manpower. Or, rather, womanpower. Sullivan was the primary writer, but then it underwent countless rounds of editing by a variety of staff, including English teacher Ms. Susie Sisson and marketing and communications director Mrs. Susan Rosenlof ‘82. “This marks the third time Marian has been recognized–and gives us more Blue Ribbon awards than any school in Nebraska,” Rosenlof said, sharing her pride in the award.
So what does this mean for the school going forward? Marian is not allowed to apply for the award again for another five years, but in the meantime, there’s a lot of great publicity coming our way. “It’s huge bragging rights, and it’s proof that we can back up what we say about Marian. It says that students in this school are in the top 15 percent of the entire country, out of every high school!” Sullivan said.
There are so many people whose hard work contributed to the achievement of this award. First of all, the programs Mrs. Sullivan has started helped maintain Marian’s culture of achievement and sisterhood, which is part of what earned the school the award. “I want to give kudos to Mrs. Sullivan, not just because she wrote the application, but because of the new programs that got us into contention,” Higgins said. She gave examples including ACT prep, JumpStart, Pre-AP World History and Geography and a part-time licensed mental health practitioner. Both school leaders expressed their thanks to Ms. Susie Sisson, who took her red pen to the lengthy application to catch any errors.
What’s maybe the best part of this award is that it’s not the final goal for Marian or a reason to take a break; it’s motivation to work harder. “We’re working on our mindset, along with wellness…we’ve got a lot of ideas that we’re still going to work toward,” Sullivan said.