The color blue shot up in popularity at four schools in Baton Rouge after they learned the good news last week that they are Blue Ribbon schools of excellence, the nation’s top school honor.
They are among the nine Louisiana schools — six public and three private — and 335 across the country receiving these special sky-colored ribbons that are bestowed annually by the U.S. Department of Education.
It is Baton Rouge Magnet High’s third time earning a Blue Ribbon and St. James Episcopal Day School’s second award. LSU Lab and St. Aloysius Catholic schools are first-time winners.
All four schools have long-standing reputations for academic excellence.
Their leaders had learned the good news days before but had to hold their tongues until the embargo was lifted at 10 a.m. Sept. 29.
St. Aloysius Catholic School had hundreds of blue cupcakes from Sam’s Club at the ready but held off until a 2 p.m. school assembly that afternoon to hand out the coveted desserts.
The school, located 2025 Stuart Ave., had a special blue day the following Friday where students were able to ditch their uniforms for blue shirts with blue jeans.
Tiffany Meek, the school’s development director, said the blue theme carried into the day’s soundtrack.
“Music played throughout the lunch periods in the cafeteria — anything from blue songs and dance hits,” Meek said.
Across town on Sept. 29, St. James interrupted class with the breaking news straight from the school’s in-house broadcast news studio. And like St. Aloysius, St. James children had blue treats aplenty, including cupcakes and ice cream.
Head of School Lauren Ray eschewed the sweets, “but I did get to wear my blue sunglasses.”
St. James, like St. Aloysius, continued the celebration three days later with its own “Blue Day.” Students came to the school at 445 Convention Street wearing blue jeans. There was also blue face-painting and blue snowballs to be had.
The other two Baton Rouge Blue Ribbon winners, Baton Rouge Magnet High and LSU Lab School, have been more measured thus far in the blue frenzy.
Baton Rouge Magnet, located at 2825 Government St., shared the news immediately with the students there. Administrators had tuned in to hear U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announce the news. So moved by what Duncan had said, Principal Nan McCann had the remainder of Duncan’s announcement broadcast schoolwide.
The big party, however, will wait.
“We are going to do our celebration after we return in November,” McCann said.
A recognition ceremony for the new Blue Ribbon schools nationwide is being held Nov. 9-10 in Washington, D.C.
LSU Lab School had its student council president read the news to the school. The school also bought its own commemorative banner — it will get an official Blue Ribbon banner in November — and began displaying it along Dalrymple Drive.
“We didn’t get too crazy with it,” acknowledged Wade Smith, the superintendent of the school.
The lab school, located on the campus of LSU, was already in “the early stages of a year-long celebration,” Smith said, having just reached 100 years in existence.
Smith said, though, he may mix in some blue into the anniversary.
“We’ll be wearing a blue-ribbon lampshade to a couple of parties,” Smith deadpanned.