Libertyville High School awarded its first Blue Ribbon since 1990


Ariella Bucio

LHS recently received a package of souvenirs that state some of the reasons why LHS won the Blue Ribbon Award of Excellence. The blue sticker (bottom right), which is located on the window of the main office, was part of the package.

Libertyville High School has been chosen to receive the U.S. Department of Education’s National Blue Ribbon School award based on the high level of academic achievement at the school.  


In addition to Libertyville, 300 public schools and 49 private schools from the elementary to high school levels will be awarded.  Libertyville will be one of 72 high schools nationwide to receive the award and will join Naperville North High School as the two high schools representing Illinois.


The designation is a high honor and is eagerly sought after throughout the country.  To catch the eye of the Department of Education, a school has to demonstrate academic excellence  (based on AP and SAT scores, and college acceptance rates) as well as coursework of a high standard, according to the Blue Ribbon website.  


“We worked to align our curriculum to our Daring mission. [We asked ourselves,] what are the skills and dispositions students need to be successful in the 21st century?” said Principal Dr. Tom Koulentes. “We’ve worked really hard to create the courses that create a focus on developing those skills in students.”


Many schools each year are nominated for the award, but schools individually must wait five years before being nominated again.  Anyone can suggest a school that they believe is deserving. Once a school is nominated, it will be reviewed by the Department of Education.  If it determines that a school should receive the award, the school will need to complete an application process. People throughout the district aid in the task, including Ms. Mary Todoric, District 128 director of communications: “I was involved…by providing information for portions of the application, helping write, proofread, and edit.”


When schools are chosen to receive the Blue Ribbon, more than just test scores and college acceptance rates are considered.  Additionally, the Department of Education looks at how schools close achievement gaps among student subgroups, meaning that different demographics of students are achieving highly on an equal level.


“When we get our achievement results (from the state of Illinois), we disaggregate our data,” Dr. Koulentes said. “If there are groups that we feel are not achieving at a level that we believe they could be achieving at, we start talking about what ways we can improve instruction for those students to help raise achievement levels.”


The atmosphere at LHS is full of pride.  Years of hard work in building an excellent high school is paying off.  With constant success in recently, LHS seems to be different. Different because of its emphasis on community, its encouragement of excellence throughout the building, and how it doesn’t have a strong focus on just one department.


“The sense of community in Libertyville is very focused on the high school, and the students in the high school are also very focused on the community of Libertyville, so we all support one another,” Dr.  Koulentes said. “Another part is that teachers and staff members here are really committed in supporting students beyond just the classroom. They want to know about students’ lives, they want to know what they’re interested in, they want to support them in things more than just doing well in their classes.”


On Nov. 7-8, several LHS and district representatives, including Dr. Koulentes; Dr. Prentiss Lea, the superintendent; Dr. Rita Fischer, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction; and Ms. Todoric will travel to Washington D.C. to receive the certification and recognition that LHS is a Blue Ribbon School.