Holy Rosary Academy in Donelson celebrated its recent Blue Ribbon School status with a celebration Nov. 13 on campus with the entire school body, parents and dignitaries.

The celebratory occasion took place outside when the school’s 300 students and faculty saluted the recognition.

For the second time, Holy Rosary Academy in Donelson was recognized as a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. It earned the recognition last month.

“Our school-wide celebration went great,” said principal Kimber Halliburton. “We were very pleased with the parent turn out and public officials who took the time to salute us.”

Founded in 1954, this diocesan, coeducational school that serves students from prekindergarten through eighth grade previously won the Blue Ribbon Award in 2013. This year was the first year HRA was eligible to apply for the Blue Ribbon Award since earning the prestigious distinction seven years ago. This school is one of only two schools in the area that won the award twice.

The Blue Ribbon Award means HRA was selected as an “Exemplary High Performing School.” This means the award is presented to schools that are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.

Of the 130,000 public and private schools in the country, 367 schools received the Blue Ribbon Award. Halliburton said it places HRA in the top 0.5% of schools that received this coveted award. There was a surprise assembly last month when Halliburton made the announcement to students and teachers.

“For more than 65 years, Holy Rosary has provided exemplary teaching and the highest caliber of education, and it is gratifying to know that others continue to recognize the work of our school,” Halliburton said at an assembly last month. “This is a very big honor; one that is very well deserved by our outstanding teachers and staff whose dedication to providing the best possible education for our school is evident in everything they do. It is also a testament to the talent of our students and the hard work they, our families, and our entire community put in each day. I congratulate everyone whose efforts made this honor possible.”

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program salutes private and public elementary, middle and high schools where students achieve high learning standards. The program began in 1982.

This is Halliburton’s first year at Holy Rosary Academy. She started July 1. She said she plans to continue the school’s excellence.

“We have an excellent teaching staff based on achievement on state assessment,” she said. “This recognition embodies what I’ve learned at HRA. I have never witnessed a more dedicated staff. I’ve never passed by our teachers without witnessing their phenomenal teaching methods. This is a very prestigious award.”

Halliburton said HRA is the only local private school to receive the Blue Ribbon School award in the area. Hume Fogg Magnet School was the other school recognized.

At the latest celebration, Bishop Mark Spalding, superintendent of Catholic Schools Rebecca Hammel, state Rep. Darren Jernigan, mayor's director of legislative affairs Mike Jameson and Metro Councilman Jeff Syracuse were on hand to offer congratulations and celebrate with the students, faculty and staff of Holy Rosary.

Halliburton added two school alumni came that day, along with several prominent business owners.

The Father Ryan High School band came to play, and Holy Rosary Academy cheerleaders performed.

Halliburton gave a speech and said she would keep the tradition of excellence alive with great teachers, parents and students.

The two-hour event included a musical performance with students playing guitars and ukuleles.

“Normally, there is an official ceremony out of Washington, D.C., and principals traveled there,” said Halliburton. “But it was virtual this year for all winners in our nation.

Additionally, the Metro Nashville City Council gave the school a city proclamation, which Jernigan presented.

“It was our first proclamation in the history of HRA,” said Halliburton.

Halliburton said while surrounding Metro and other county public systems have closed on and off and gone virtual due to the coronavirus, they have “no intention of closing.”

She said not one COVID-19 case was transmitted through the school, but rather exposure from outside.

“Our parents and teachers are doing a wonderful job,” she said.

HRA will hold an open house Dec. 6 from noon until 2:45 a.m. for new prospective students.

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