DRAPER — Juan Diego Catholic High School has been selected to receive a U.S. Department of Education national award. In November in a ceremony in Maryland the school will be recognized as an “Exemplary High Performing” National Blue Ribbon School.
Juan Diego is the first Utah school since 1997 to receive the award; in 1997 the awardee was Judge Memorial Catholic High School.
This is the first year that Juan Diego CHS has applied for blue ribbon status. To qualify to apply for the recognition, Juan Diego CHS had to be in the top 15 percent of schools in the nation in reading and mathematics and have a graduation rate of 95 percent or higher. After an extensive, year-long application process, Juan Diego was one of 50 private schools nationally nominated by the Council for American Private Education for the award. Of the 362 recipients, only eight were high schools.
“We recognize and honor your important work in preparing students for successful careers and meaningful lives” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a video message to the honorees. “As a National Blue Ribbon School, your school demonstrates what is possible when committed educators hold all students and staff to high standards and create vibrant, innovative cultures of teaching and learning.”
The award recognizes 20 years of work on the part of Juan Diego’s faculty, staff and students, Dr. Galey Colosimo, principal, said. “It’s taken a long time for us to have all the moving parts put together and to have all the programs in place, so we see it (the award) as a major milestone in the history of our school.”
“Internally, in the last seven or eight years, we’ve always known that we were really, really good academically. … Outside validation is always nice,” Colosimo said. “It allows you to kind of take a deep breath and say ‘we’ve arrived.’ Still ‘the road to success is always under construction,’ so we know that although we’ve been recognized by a legitimate outside organization, in no way are we satisfied that we are there with all that we say and do. We’re always under construction; I think that is the hallmark of an excellent school.”
Juan Diego’s success can be attributed to its faculty and parents, Colosimo said.
“We’ve been able to accumulate a very qualified, creative and energetic faculty that really get the mission of Juan Diego, the mission of Catholic schools and are eager to help in the building of the appropriate programs that drive excellence,” he said. “It also helps to have an extremely supportive parent community who send us students that are smart, hard-working, creative and really engaged in the Juan Diego way.”
“Juan Diego is focused on educating the whole child,” Colosimo said. “We really believe that beyond academics and extracurricular programs that a student’s social, emotional, moral and spiritual growth are key to what high school students need today. When those four elements are provided for students it drives excellence in academics and extracurricular activities.”
Colosimo also acknowledged the support of the Diocese of Salt Lake City, Utah Catholic Schools, the bishops and superintendents over the years and the Skaggs family.
“Juan Diego does not exist in a vacuum; Juan Diego is part of the Catholic school system,” he said. “We never want to forget the support that those entities have provided to us and they are a significant factor in the excellence of our school.”