Seton Catholic Preparatory announced today it was named a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School in the “Exemplary High Performing” category by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Blue Ribbon Schools Program. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos recognized Seton Catholic as the only Arizona high school to earn this year’s Blue Ribbon award.

Four other elementary and middle schools in the Grand Canyon State also earned the distinction. The 2017 cohort National Blue Ribbon Schools cohort represents 342 schools — 292 public and 50 private — in 44 states, the District of Columbia, and Department of Defense Education Activity Schools in Okinawa, Japan, Stuttgart, Germany, and West Point, New York.

The Blue Ribbon program recognizes the full diversity of American schools: public and non-public elementary, middle, and high schools, including traditional, charter, magnet schools, parochial and independent schools. Schools are selected for the prestigious award for overall academic excellence or their progress in closing the achievement gap.

“Being named a National Blue Ribbon School is a blessing that affirms Seton Catholic’s commitment to academic excellence,” said Seton Principal Victor Serna. “Our former principal, Mrs. Collins, assembled an incredible team of Catholic educators who have made this award possible. Receiving this award recognizes the accomplishments of our students, teachers, and supportive parents, and speaks volumes about our rigorous curriculum.”

Schools are recognized as Exemplary High Performing if their student achievement in English and mathematics is among the highest in the country (top 15 percent), measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests. According to the latest ACT Profile Report, Seton’s 2016-17 ACT composite score is 25.2 while Arizona’s average composite score is 19.7 and the national average is 21.0.

Additionally, Seton is home to 55 Advanced Placement scholars: 23 AP Scholars, 12 AP Scholars with Honor, 17 AP Scholars with Distinction, and three National AP Scholars. In the past two years, Seton has produced 13 commended National Merit Scholars, one semifinalist and two finalists.

“We have always known that Seton Catholic Preparatory holds its students to a higher standard,” said Pat Collins, former principal who recently retired after 25 years of service to Seton. “Receiving the Blue Ribbon Award serves as validation of the entire school’s efforts towards academic excellence.”

“The Blue Ribbon recognition affirms Seton’s place as the premier Catholic, college preparatory high school serving families in the East Valley,” said Dr. David Sorkin, assistant principal. “Coupled with being named a top 50 Catholic high school in the nation by the Cardinal Newman Society in 2010, Seton continues to provide an impressive education for all who come here.”

Serna added, “Being recognized as a Blue Ribbon School provides a high standard for current and future students and staff to aspire towards. We are going to continue challenging ourselves in the name of academic excellence, leadership, and loving service to others.”

In November, Seton administrators will attend the National Blue Ribbon Schools annual award ceremony in Washington, DC. At the event, each award-winning school will receive a plaque and flag to signify its exemplary status.

Other Catholic Blue Ribbon schools

Georgia — St. John the Evangelist

Illinois — Central Catholic High School, Holy Family Catholic Academy, St. Edward, St. Gilbert, St. Josaphat, St. Joseph (Liertyville and Wilmette)

Kentucky — Christ the King, Holy Trinity, St. Joseph (Bardstown and Crescent Springs), Villa Madonna Academy Elementary

Maryland — Little Flower, St. John Regional, St. John the Evangelist, St. John’s, St. Louis, St. Mary, St. Peter

New Hampshire — Nashua Catholic Regional Junior High

New Jersey — Academy of Our Lady of Peace, All Saints Catholic Academy, Christian Brothers Academy, Hoboken Catholic Academy, Our Lady of the Lake, St. Francis Cathedral School, St. Peter Academy

Pennsylvania — St. Joseph, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Teresa of Calcutta, Ss. Simon and Jude

South Dakota — Immaculate Conception

Tennessee — St. Bernard Academy, St. Matthew

Texas — Blessed Sacrament