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O’Gorman High School Named to the Catholic High School Honor Roll

2014 School of Excellence!

Manassas, Va. – The Cardinal Newman Society released the list of schools recognized by the Catholic Education Honor Roll as 2014 Schools of Excellence. Since 2004 the Honor Roll has celebrated quality Catholic education throughout the United States.

We are pleased to announce that, for the 8th consecutive time, O’Gorman High School has received this distinguished award (every year since the inception of the award!).

Honor Roll schools receiving this designation are marked by the integration of Catholic identity throughout all aspects of their programs and excellence in academics. This year seventy-one schools received the honor of being named as a School of Excellence,and an additional nine received the distinction of Honorable Mention. This is less than five percent of the Catholic high schools in the United States.

“The Honor Roll has been a helpful tool for administrators, families and benefactors in recognizing the quality of a Catholic high school education,” said Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society. “The Honor Roll schools are a reminder that Catholic education is getting better every day—not only academically, but in the renewal of Catholic identity—and we are delighted to see the increased level of competition among the schools that participated in the program this year.”

This year’s Honor Roll schools are diverse: large and small, new and long-established, highly selective and those with open enrollment admissions policies, as well as a variety of tuition rates. The common trait is an institutional commitment to providing a truly integrated and faithful Catholic education across all disciplines and in all areas of student activities.

The Acton Institute founded the Catholic High School Honor Roll in 2004. The Cardinal Newman Society assumed the program in 2012, consistent with its mission of helping Catholic families and promoting faithful Catholic education.

O’Gorman Principal Kyle Groos says it is an honor to be recognized and named to the Cardinal Newman Society Catholic Education Honor Roll’s School of Excellence Award.  “This recognition exemplifies our Catholic identity and academic excellence. Through our partnership with our families, we have committed to promoting our Catholic principles and academic excellence.  Our success as a school comes from the dedication of every staff member who believes in our mission and who carries that passion throughout everything they say and do.  This award validates the work of all of our stakeholders and for that we are blessed.”

For more information on Catholic High School Honor Roll, please visit their website at: Schools of Excellence
U.S. Dept. of Education National Blue Ribbon Award (1984-'85; 2005; 2014)
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 O’Gorman scores THREE-PEAT!!!


The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools on their overall academic excellence. Every year the U. S. Department of Education seeks out and celebrates great American schools, schools demonstrating that all students can achieve to high levels. The National Blue Ribbon School award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging content. This year, O’Gorman is one of only 48 high schools in the entire nation (public and private) to be named a Blue Ribbon School.

Since the inception of the Blue Ribbon School program in 1982, only seven South Dakota high schools have received this distinction. Only ONE school in the state has received it three times – O’Gorman High School!  “Winning this award once is a tremendous accomplishment,” says Sioux Falls Catholic Schools’ Director of Instruction Joan Mahoney. “Winning it three times puts us in a very elite group. Few schools in the nation can claim this honor.”

O’Gorman first won the award back in 1985, then received it a second time in 2005 after the guidelines were made more stringent, allowing the school to re-apply.

O’Gorman administrators say the motivation to seek the award again was to reaffirm that the school and students continue to move forward and that high standards are being maintained. “Maintaining the rigor is not easy. It would be so much easier to let it slide. Our teachers refuse to compromise, even though the challenges in the classroom grow each year,” says Mahoney.

New SFCS President Robert Wehde is pleased with the announcement of the award. “O’Gorman High School will continue to provide leadership for school reform and improvement in the region and throughout the country. We are a model for others to learn about outstanding leadership and instruction.”

“This recognition also validates the investment our parents are making in Catholic education for their students because it shows that our students are ready for post-secondary education,” says O’Gorman Principal Kyle Groos.  

What Is It – A national program established by the U.S. Department of Education in 1982 to recognize schools around the nation for their pursuit of “excellence”.

When – The program is annual. Each year, schools both public & non-public (elementary & secondary) from around the country are invited to submit their application – announcement of schools who achieve National Blue Ribbon status are usually made in September, with a recognition ceremony in November in Washington, D.C.

The Process – To be eligible to even apply for the award schools must meet one of two criteria:
1) EXEMPLARY HIGH PERFORMING SCHOOLS: Schools whose students achieve at a very high level regardless of background, and students achieve in the top 15% on state assessments. Private schools must meet an additional requirement of achieving in the top 15% of the schools in the nation in reading and mathematics as measured by an assessment referenced against national norms (i.e. ACT).


2) EXEMPLARY ACHIEVEMENT GAP CLOSING SCHOOLS: Schools making significant progress in closing achievement gaps among different groups of students.

What Allowed O’Gorman to Apply – O’Gorman qualified to apply based on its ACT scores which ranked in the top 15% of schools nationally in the areas of reading and mathematics and on its Dakota STEP exams which also placed us in the top 15% of schools in South Dakota as certified by our state director, Melody Schopp – “but it’s not just about test scores.”

How Did We Win – The National Review Panel considered the following categories in analyzing our application:
1) Sharing Lessons Learned
2) School Organization and Culture

3) Challenging Standards and Curriculum
4) Instructional Methods – Active Teaching and Learning
5) Professional Development
6) Leadership and Educational Vitality
7) Engaging Families and the Community
8) Indicators of Success

Who Won – 337 National Blue Ribbon Schools nationwide were chosen this year (fewer than fifty of these were high schools).

Past Winning Statistics for O’Gorman High School – Since the program was founded in 1982, O’Gorman is the only high school in South Dakota to have won the National Blue Ribbon Award three times.

What Does It Mean – In the words of former U.S. Secretary of Education, Rod Paige, “These schools are national models of excellence that others can learn from.”

Mrs. Jane Bradfield (Faculty Representative) & Mr. Kyle Groos (Principal) accepts the 2014 National Blue Ribbon Award Plaque from U.S. DOE Representative Abi Kuma.

Mrs. Jane Bradfield (Faculty Representative) & Mr. Kyle Groos (Principal) accepts the 2014 National Blue Ribbon Award Plaque from U.S. DOE Representative Abi Kuma.

College Board's AP Honor Roll

O’Gorman High School received College Board’s 4th Annual AP Honor Roll.  A total of 477 schools in the United States and Canada earned a place on this list and this is the second time that O’Gorman High School has received this recognition.  The AP Honor Roll recognizes efforts to open AP classroom doors to a significantly broader pool of students, while maintaining or improving the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher.

College Board examined three years of AP data: 2011, 2012, and 2013 data from all students who took AP Examinations in May of those years. Within the three year analysis, inclusion on the list is based on the following criteria:
1. Examination of three years of AP data, from 2011 to 2013;
2. Increase in participation in/access to AP by at least 4 percent in large districts, at least 6 percent in medium districts and at least 11 percent in small districts;
3. Performance levels must be maintained or improved when comparing the percentage of exams scoring 3+ in 2011 to 2013.  While the Honor Roll is not a roster of higher performing districts, it is a roster of districts that are simultaneously expanding opportunity and improving performance.

Siemen's AP Schools

Since 1998, the Siemens Foundation has partnered with the College Board to inspire and reward high-achieving schools that excel in the College Board’s Advanced Placement exams in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through the Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement.  The excellence shown in STEM will  continue to shape the future of our global society.

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