Students at Edith Bowen Laboratory School released biodegradable blue balloons into the air on Tuesday in celebration of their recognition as an exemplary high-performing National Blue Ribbon School. The school has also been approved to add a sixth grade.

The Utah State Board of Education nominated Edith Bowen for the Blue Ribbon based on growth in testing and SAGE scores over three years. This is the first year Edith Bowen has been awarded the Blue Ribbon. Julie Moeller, assistant principal, said they have developed programs to identify and bridge gaps in student learning to make sure everyone is growing.

Students wrote down what they like about their school — things like “we get to learn more” and “good teachers” — on small pieces of paper that were attached to the balloon strings. Led by Moeller and USU mascot Big Blue, each student let a balloon fly.

In a recognition speech in the auditorium, Moeller asked students to look to the person on their right and their left. She said every person in the room did something to help win the award, including students, administrators and teachers.

“We teach harder than we’ve ever taught before,” said fifth-grade teacher Jan Farmer.

Laura Reina, curriculum and assessment director, said it wasn’t long ago that Edith Bowen wasn’t doing as well. In 2013, the school received a D from the Utah State Board of Education. They’ve earned an A for the past two school years.

“We’ve accomplished what we’ve been working for,” Reina said.

The Blue Ribbon isn’t the only thing Edith Bowen is celebrating. The Dean of the College of Education, the Logan City Board of Education and the State Board of Education have all approved Edith Bowen to add a sixth grade.

Faculty at Edith Bowen have been pushing for a sixth grade for at least 10 years, according to Moeller. The effort was increased last year when the Cache County School District added the sixth grade into their elementary schools. This meant students living in CCSD boundaries would finish fifth grade at Edith Bowen, move to a new elementary school for sixth grade and then move on to middle school.

“We didn’t want to have that limbo year,” Reina said.

Edith Bowen students within Logan simply went straight to Mount Logan middle school. With an added sixth grade, they will join middle school a year later than other students.

Adding a sixth grade, Moeller said, will allow Edith Bowen to continue their STEaM curriculum, which include programs in science, technology, engineering, art and math. Students will have more opportunities for hands-on learning and out-of-the-box thinking.

Moeller said it will be a ton of work to set up, but they are excited for the future.

“We get to keep our kids for another year,” Moeller said.