National accolade honors dedication of school community, administrators say
By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
A congratulatory message dotted the lawn greeting commuters along Preston Road. Blue ribbons decorated the campus’ trees and doorways. And a celebratory spirit permeated the school building.
On Sept. 21, the word was out: Christ the King Catholic School had been selected as a 2021 National Blue Ribbon School.
“The U.S. Department of Education’s announcement on Sept. 21 ignited a great deal of excitement on the CKS campus,” said Lisa Bosco, principal at Christ the King. “The award represents an amazing accolade for the entire community in a challenging time, which illustrates our commitment to faith, excellence, and perseverance.”
The diocesan school is one of only 325 schools total and among just 23 private schools selected nationally. It was the only Catholic school in the state of Texas to earn the honor this year.
The Blue Ribbon recognition also marks the third time the school has been honored, having received it in 2015 and 1994 as well. This year’s recognition makes Christ the King one of a select few schools nationally to earn back-to-back National Blue Ribbon School recognitions as schools can only be recognized once every six years.
“It is a true gift to be recognized with back-to-back National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence recognition for exemplary high performing schools,” said Patrick O’Sullivan, president of Christ the King Catholic School. “Being recognized is a well-earned testament to the fortitude and dedication of our students, faculty, and families to our mission.”
O’Sullivan noted that at Christ the King relationships are at the heart of what it means to be a Catholic school.
“We have our Catholic traditions and Catholic social teachings to inspire relationships that allow each member of our CKS community to develop their gifts and talents while educating our hearts, minds, and spirits as servant leaders,” he said. “Our faith and trust in one another allow us to adapt to an ever-changing world so that each year we can strive to be distinguished by excellence in all areas of our school life as together we make God known, loved, and served.”
Brian Tusa, a parent to three students at the school who also serves as the president of the school’s advisory council, said that this year’s honor speaks to the hard work and long-term commitment to high performance from the entire administration, faculty, parents and students.
“The learning environment for the last 18 months has obviously been very challenging. However, the entire Christ the King Catholic community has been incredibly supportive of one another and the teachers have gone above and beyond their normal responsibilities to ensure the students perform at a high level,” Tusa said. “As a community, we’re extremely grateful for the teachers’ dedication and excited to celebrate with one another the very prestigious honor of earning back-to-back Blue Ribbon awards.”
Bosco echoed Tusa’s sentiments, especially noting the commitment to excellence despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During these challenging times, this recognition is a testament to our faculty who dutifully respond to their vocation, to our students who continue to demonstrate a strong love of learning, and to our families who remain committed to the school mission,” she said. “I am proud of the entire Christ the King Catholic School community for their dedication to fulfilling the school mission in order to promote a positive school culture where students thrive in academics, spirituality, and servant leadership, which earned the recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence in the Exemplary High-Performing School category.”
An adherence to the school’s mission helped guide Christ the King toward its third Blue Ribbon award, O’Sullivan said.
“Our community’s growth mindset forged in resiliency and resourcefulness have allowed us to continue on our path of excellence by focusing on five Cs: critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication and our Catholic faith as the lenses through which we view the world,” said O’Sullivan, adding that by living that mission and setting a vision forward, the school hopes to celebrate again in 2027.
A ministry of the church
Christ the King’s Blue Ribbon School recognition came in the Exemplary High-Performing School category, which is based on all student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates.
Father Tony Lackland, pastor of Christ the King Catholic Church, said as a Catholic school, the mission for Christ the King is about more than just scores and test data — it’s a ministry for the church.
“It is hard to overstate the importance of Catholic education for passing on our faith and sustaining a vibrant Catholic culture,” he explained. “Christ the King School is the largest ministry of our parish, so I am so proud of the hard work that went into this past year, both for our parish community and for the witness it provides to the outside world. It is an honor to have it recognized and I am very grateful to God for it.”
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona recognized the more than 300 schools as National Blue Ribbon Schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
The 2021 list of schools represents public and non-public elementary, middle and high schools, including traditional, charter, magnet schools, parochial and independent schools in 45 states, Washington D.C. and some Department of Defense Education Activity schools.
According to the U.S. Secretary of Education Department, the Blue Ribbon award affirms the hard work of students, educators, communities and families in creating welcoming and safe schools where students master challenging content.
The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, in its 39th year, has presented more than 10,000 awards to over 9,000 schools, with some schools winning multiple awards, according to the announcement.