PHOTO: students are surrounded by President Brother Frank Byrne, F.S.C. (left), Principal R. Ross Fales (second from right) and Associate Principal Sean Nunan (right).
LINCROFT, N.J. – For the second time in the school’s history, Christian Brothers Academy has been named a National Blue Ribbon honoree by the United States Department of Education.
Announced by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on Thursday afternoon, it marks the second time that CBA has earned education’s highest distinction for schools. The Academy was previously named a National Blue Ribbon School in 1983-84, the first year private high schools were eligible. The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students achieve very high learning standards. CBA was named an Exemplary High Performing School, which is defined as one of the state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.
“Being recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a National Blue Ribbon School for excellence is certainly a great honor for Christian Brothers Academy,” President Brother Frank Byrne, F.S.C. said. “I commend Principal Ross Fales and Associate Principal Sean Nunan for guiding CBA through the application process. Receiving this prestigious award for the second time verifies CBA’s longstanding commitment to the intellectual, spiritual, and moral development of our students.”
Schools interested in applying for National Blue Ribbon School status must first qualify by producing standardized test averages that are at the 85th percentile of national school norms. CBA qualified by using the SAT scores from the Class of 2016, needing a minimum verbal score average of 586 and averaging 592, while also needing a minimum mathematics score average of 589 and notching a 601 average.
Private schools that qualify for application then work with the Council for American Private Education (CAPE), which recommends 50 qualified applications each year to the U.S. Department of Education for a final decision.
“It is great to receive recognition for all of the hard work our tremendous faculty dedicates to our students each and every day,” Fales said. “The performance and involvement of our young men and their teachers is what ultimately earned CBA this award and we are proud to be recognized with some of the best schools in the country. We congratulate the other 49 private schools being honored in this cohort with us.”
This coveted award affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating an environment where students master challenging and engaging content.
Aside from the raw test scores, CBA was evaluated in a number of different areas including school history, educational philosophy, academic curriculum, instructional methods and assessments, school climate and culture, engagement with families and the community, and school leadership.
“Over the years, we have won awards for our academics, our athletics, and our community service, but the Blue Ribbon is true recognition that, when you consider all the many facets of the school at once, Christian Brothers Academy is one of the best schools in the country,” Nunan said.
Now in its 35th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed recognition on more than 8,500 schools. On November 6-7, the Secretary and the Department of Education will celebrate with the honorees at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., which Principal Fales and Associate Principal Nunan will attend.
The Academy becomes just the 14th school in New Jersey to win the award for a second time. In 1983-84, it was then-Principal Brother Andrew O’Gara and then-Associate Principal Peter Santanello who led CBA through the application process, and ultimately represented CBA in Washington, D.C.
It was at Santanello’s insistence, early in his tenure as Associate Principal, that CBA entered the evaluation process for the Blue Ribbon Schools Program, resulting in the Academy’s first national recognition as an Exemplary Private School.
“Winning the Blue Ribbon for a second time is a great honor,” Nunan continued. “It shows that CBA has continued to be one of the best schools in the country over time. This award honors the thousands of students who have passed through these halls and all of the teachers, staff and administrators who helped establish the school's tradition of excellence.”