BOUNTIFUL -- The contributions of students, teachers and administrators at Mueller Park Junior High helped the school earn the distinction of National Junior High School of the Year.
The award -- bestowed by the National Association of Middle School Principals -- was recently presented to Principal Joyce Jones, along with a $1,500 check from Lifetouch, a crystal trophy and a school banner.
The principals' association -- NAMSP -- is composed of more than 3,000 schools representing 39 states and 545 school districts.
Students, teachers and administrators were informed about the award Thursday morning during a back-to-school assembly in which Gil Lund, a representative of Lifetouch -- the official photographer for NAMSP -- presented the award to Jones.
"The award that we have won is just a reminder that we are doing our best, we're giving our best, and we're trying to become all that we can be," Jones said.
Jones listed several of the achievements that brought Mueller Park to the attention of the seven NAMSP board members who serve as judges for the award.
Mueller Park's test scores for the past five years display a pattern of sustainable growth and progress.
"It shows a history of educational excellence that we were part of for some time," Jones said.
The school offers honors programs in all core subjects, as well as advanced placement geography and honors biology.
Jones also described the school's REACH program, which provides for credit recovery during the day for students who fail to earn credit for a course. The students don't have to stay after school, nor do their parents have to pay to recover those credits.
Intervention programs are offered for both at-risk and highly accelerated students.
"We have an effective advisory program where we emphasize character education; where we talk about wonderful qualities like honesty, integrity, responsibility, and taking care of one another and making sure that we are in a community where we nurture one another," Jones said.
The school also offers many extracurricular activities such as a service club and a school musical. The musical involves more than one-sixth of the student body.
Superintendent Bryan Bowles also addressed the student body during the assembly.
He compared the school to an artist's masterpiece painting: composed of many different details, colors and brushstrokes.
"I'm looking at a masterpiece -- at all of you. Each color stands alone. Each of you stands alone as an individual color, as an individual piece of this masterpiece. Each of you taking a place separately, but all of you working together to create something of worth," Bowles said.
"All of you as a team, all of you as a school family, all of you as a community together, each individual color blended together to create the great masterpiece that makes Mueller Park the number one junior high school in the nation."
Jones said that in order to apply for the award, the school had to compile a multiple-page data summary and give an explanation of the support the school offers for students.
She traveled to Nashville, Tenn., to receive the award June 26.
The faculty and staff will work together to determine where the winning funds will be best used.
"It's now safely in the bank and waiting to see where it can reach out and touch the most lives and support education best."