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St. Francis of Assisi School celebrates Blue Ribbon status with Bishop Burbidge

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Visiting Catholic schools is one of Bishop Michael F. Burbidge’s favorite things to do. So it was a special treat for him to visit St. Francis of Assisi School in Triangle to celebrate the school’s National Blue Ribbon status Jan. 27. 

The school was designated a Blue Ribbon School for 2019 by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in September. The pre-K-eighth grade school was the only Catholic school in the diocese to be recognized in 2019.

“It wasn’t only about test scores,” said Principal Tricia Barber. “It was also about outreach and activities and parent involvement, so it was a completely comprehensive story that we needed to tell. We definitely showcased that we are a Franciscan Catholic school through our various outreach ministries. It is not just about paying a dollar for dress down day, it is really hands-on learning outreach experiences.” 

The day’s celebration began when the whole school gathered with Bishop Burbidge for Mass at the start of the school day. Afterward, the bishop met with the different grades to congratulate them individually for their school’s achievement. 

As Bishop Burbidge went from class to class, he gave students the opportunity to ask questions. He was impressed by the mixture of fun and challenging questions. Some wanted to know who his confirmation saint was. They were delighted to learn that it was their patron, St. Francis of Assisi. Students were curious about the daily challenges of being a bishop and what it was like to transition from priest to bishop. While he admitted that school can be challenging at times, he said the important thing to remember is that God will always be with them during those hard times. 

After the students were dismissed, Bishop Burbidge and Joseph E. Vorbach III, diocesan superintendent of schools, met with the teachers and staff for lunch. Bishop Burbidge thanked them and Barber for their pursuit of excellence and dedication to Catholic education. 

Kassock is a freelancer in Fredericksburg.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020