National Blue Ribbon School: Wheatridge Middle School

`SPURS’ road to success

At Wheatridge Middle School, teachers and staff strive to provide a family type atmosphere where students are supported while being challenged to excel academically and also make good choices.

“Two key mottos are heard and modeled throughout the school year; family comes first and there is no need to worry alone,” Wheatridge Middle School officials wrote in the school’s application to the 2016 National Blue Ribbon Schools Program.

Wheatridge Middle, a suburban school that serves the growing communities of Gardner and Edgerton in southwest Johnson County, was one of four Kansas schools recently designated a National Blue Ribbon School.

Wheatridge Middle School was honored for being an “Exemplary High Performing School,” with students in the top 15 percent in English and mathematics, as measured by state assessments. Also, to be recognized in this category, disaggregated results for student groups, including students from disadvantaged backgrounds, must be similar to the results for all students tested.

Culture and climate count

WMS has approximately 530 students from fifth- through eighth-grades and about 40 percent receive free or reduced meal prices.

At WMS, school culture and climate is based on engaging families and the community, party through special events and meetings.

Families look forward to the many events at the school, such as Muffins for Moms and Donuts for Dads, Family Literacy Nights, Incoming Fifth-Grade Parent Nights, Pizza Bingo Night, Building Brains and Bodies and more.

“WMS students and staff are aware of the thousands of students who have called the school home. Pride, spirit and tradition foster educational achievement and create a positive and safe environment where all students are challenged academically and guided to make good decisions. Safety, Preparedness, United, Respectful, and Self-Control defines and leads all Mustangs down the SPURS road to success,” the school’s Blue Ribbon application said.

Focus on excellence

Above all, the focus and goal of the school is that every student and teacher strives for excellence every day.

Staff members are committed to professional development and also tirelessly donate their time to after school programs and clubs.

Students participate in numerous school activities and plan service projects through the Student Leadership Club.

The Site Council, which meets monthly, provides advice and counseling while a shared leadership model is used.

“When you walk into WMS, whether it is during the school day or for an after-school activity, the positive culture is evident. Staff and students are smiling and you instantly feel the sense of community.”

This is the third of four installments on Kansas schools receiving the National Blue Ribbon designation. Besides Wheatridge Middle School, the other three schools are Chanute Elementary, Chanute USD 413 (featured in February’s issue of School Board Review), Challenger Intermediate, Goddard USD 265 (feature in the March issue), and McKinley Intermediate, Abilene USD 435.

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