Missouri Senator Scott Sifton tells BHS students, “You’re at a time in your life when it is far better to risk and not bat .1000 than it is to not take risks and not seek out new experiences and make the most of yourselves in the years ahead.” (Photo by Steve Bowman)

By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit

The Missouri State Senate recently congratulated Brentwood High School for being named a 2013 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. State Senator Scott Sifton visited the school on Friday to praise students and teachers for receiving the award, which was announced in September.

Students cheer as the school’s huge new banner is dramatically unrolled in the auditorium. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Sifton represents District 1 in St. Louis County, which includes Brentwood residents south of Eulalie Avenue. He addressed the school in an assembly in the auditorium and presented a resolution from the Missouri Senate congratulating BHS for the award, which it also received in 2006.

“To win this twice is staggering and very possibly unique in the state of Missouri,” Sifton said to the crowd of students and teachers in grades eight through 12. “That is how special what you’re doing here in Brentwood is.”

BHS is one of only six Missouri high schools, and the only one in the St. Louis area, to be selected for the honor. The annual award recognizes public and private schools for academic excellence. Recipients were determined based on standardized test scores over the past six school years. This year 286 schools received the award nationally, 53 of them high schools.

At first the high school was told that Sifton would be accompanied by Missouri Senator Joseph Keaveny, who represents Brentwood residents north of Eulalie Ave. However, Keaveny was unable to attend the assembly.

About BHS being named a Blue Ribbon school twice in eight years, Sen. Scott Sifton said, “It would not surprise me if you were the only high school in the state who could say that.” (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Sifton praised the school for being close-knit.

“Dr. Johnson [BHS principal Ed Johnson] talked about how you’re like a family here,” the Democratic senator said. “You don’t know how much you exude that as a school. I’ve been here an hour this morning and you exude family. You watch out for each other. You celebrate each other. You respect each other.”

Sifton encouraged the students to vote.

“Participate in the public process,” he said. “I am on this stage today instead of somebody else because of a decision that was made by 817 people out of 90,000.”

Other speakers at Friday’s assembly included Brentwood Superintendent of Schools David Faulkner.

“I want you to appreciate how much people care about you deeply, because that’s where it really starts,” Faulkner told the students. “It’s not with standards, curriculum or having the prettiest buildings in the world. It’s about having people who care about you at every level, including those taxpayers who helped us out so much with Proposition K last year.”

Brentwood Superintendent of Schools David Faulkner tells students, “Remember that you have benefited from this great system of public education that we have, and to do your part to be informed voters and to say, ‘I got a good education, I’m going to make sure somebody else does, too.’” (Photo by Steve Bowman)

It was a busy week for BHS principal Ed Johnson. On Tuesday he and teacher Kellie Smoller were in Washington D.C. at a luncheon to accept the blue ribbon award from the U.S. Department of Education. He called it “the highlight of my 19 years in education − to be able to meet representatives of the other Blue Ribbon schools and talk about what makes our schools excellent.”

“We have a zero-cut policy on extracurricular activities,” said BHS principal Ed Johnson, listing one of the things that sets his school apart. “To take a risk in life is one of the top 10 things you need to do to be successful.” (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Equally inspired by the trip was Smoller, who teaches journalism and communication arts. Speaking at Friday’s assembly, she said she also visited the Lincoln Memorial, where a wall is inscribed with the Gettysburg Address. She said she was inspired by Abraham Lincoln’s words, “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.”

“For me and for us, our unfinished work is you,” Smoller told the students. “By continuing a commitment to you, who must be prepared to fulfill this promise of this new birth of freedom, we must continue to demand high standards so that we are fit to fully participate in our government that is of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Teacher Kellie Smoller went to Washington D.C. last week to accept BHS’s blue ribbon award. “I went to Lincoln Memorial,” she said. “On the wall I read the Gettysburg Address. It’s one of the greatest testaments to honor, fortitude, faith and commitment to a greater cause.” (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Here’s a link to the Sept. 29 Brentwood Spirit article about BHS winning the Blue Ribbon award:

Students Allison Durham and Alex Patton introduce Senator Sifton. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Sen. Scott Sifton shares the stage with (from left) student Shelby Linneman, principal Ed Johnson, assistant superintendent Joan Oakley, student Alex Patton, teacher Kellie Smoller and superintendent David Faulkner. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

The eyepiece of a TV camera from NewsChannel 5 monitors Sen. Scott Sifton’s speech. Before the assembly, superintendent David Faulkner was interviewed on camera by news anchor Kay Quinn. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Sen. Scott Sifton poses with BHS Student Council President Shelby Linneman and principal Ed Johnson after presenting Johnson with the Missouri Senate’s proclamation congratulating the school for its award. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Here’s the plaque Brentwood High School received from the U.S. Department of Education. It’s signed by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. (Photo by Steve Bowman)