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Ellie Stevens, center, looks up while classmates toss their graduation caps after Central Catholic's commencement ceremony at St. Patrick Catholic Church of Merna, Bloomington. 

BLOOMINGTON — The U.S. Department of Education has named Bloomington's Central Catholic High School a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School, one of just 25 in Illinois. 

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced the school recipients.

“National Blue Ribbon Schools are active demonstrations of preparing every child for a bright future. You are visionaries, innovators and leaders,”  DeVos said in a statement.

The Blue Ribbon recognition was awarded to 342 public and private schools based on overall academic excellence or progress in closing achievement gaps.  

Central Catholic was the only school in The Pantagraph-area to receive the designation.

“This recognition is a reflection of the hard work of so many faculty and staff, both past and present, who believe in the mission of Central Catholic High School and who come to work every day to make a difference in our students’ lives,” said high school principal Sean Foster in a statement. “I could not be more proud of our students, the Saints family and everyone who made this possible.”

The school was nominated for the award by the Council for American Private Education, then completed a comprehensive application regarding school practices.

To qualify for the award, a school’s standardized test scores need to be in the top 15 percent nationally. The average ACT score for Central Catholic students is 25.5.

Follow Julia Evelsizer on Twitter: @pg_evelsizer

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Public Safety Reporter

Public safety reporter for The Pantagraph.

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