Gold Hill Students who won Awards of Excellence reacted to the news in this August photo from the school's Facebook page.

Gold Hill Elementary School in Fort Mill was named one of the best schools in the nation on Friday, winning the coveted National Blue Ribbon School award from the U.S. Department of Education.

Gold Hill was among five South Carolina schools and 297 schools nationally announced as a 2022 National Blue Ribbon School. The awards go annually to schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps.

According to a press release, the recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona made the announcement during his Road to Success Back to School bus tour.

This is the second time Gold Hill Elementary School has received this honor and is one of three schools to have been selected in the district’s history. Previous honorees include: Gold Hill Elementary School (2022, 2007); Nation Ford High School (2020); and Fort Mill High School (2018, 2004).

“What a tremendous honor to receive the Blue Ribbon award,” said GHES Principal Josh Burris. “Gold Hill Elementary School is a special place and this recognition is a reflection of a school culture rooted in relationships, focused on meeting students where they are to learn and grow at high levels and driven by our mission and vision. We are so grateful for the partnership and commitment of our staff, students, families and Fort Mill School District leadership, which made this honor possible.”

“We are delighted to hear that Gold Hill Elementary has been selected for this honor,” said Superintendent Dr. Chuck Epps. “This award truly spotlights the excellent work the teachers and staff are doing to address student needs and provide a first-class education to all.”

More from the FMSD press release:

With its 39th cohort, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed approximately 10,000 awards to more than 9,000 schools. The National Blue Ribbon School award affirms and validates the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in striving for – and attaining – exemplary achievement.

National Blue Ribbon Schools serve as models of effective school practices for state and district educators and other schools throughout the nation. A National Blue Ribbon School flag gracing a school’s entryway or on a flagpole is a widely recognized symbol of exemplary teaching and learning. 

The Department recognizes all schools in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates:

  • Exemplary High-Performing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.
  • Exemplary Achievement Gap-Closing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s student groups and all students.

Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year. The Department invites nominations for the National Blue Ribbon Schools award from the top education official in all states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and the Bureau of Indian Education. Private schools are nominated by the Council for American Private Education.

Greg "Ricky Bobby" Rickabaugh has lived in the Fort Mill and York County community since 2006. He has covered the area while a reporter for The Charlotte Observer and a freelance writer for The Fort Mill...