A giant blue ribbon was unveiled on Wednesday, Dec. 5, at Hindley School and will adorn the front of the school for the next five years.

"It's quite dramatic," Principal Rita Ferri said of the ribbon.

Hindley School was honored with the U.S. Department of Education's National Blue Ribbon Award, which recognizes public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students perform at high levels or where significant improvements are being made in students' levels of academic achievement.

At the school's ceremony, parents, town officials, teachers and third, fourth and fifth graders gathered outside as several town officials and key people gave speeches, and the fourth- and fifth-grade choir, led by one of the music teachers, sang.

"I think about 200 to 250 people were present," Ferri said, adding that all visitors were given blue bracelets that read: "blue ribbon, Hindley School paw pride."

Ferri said the students were so excited, and that they loved the award. On Dec. 6 and 7, the students were shown a mini-documentary of the trip Ferri, along with six other people, took to Washington, D.C., in November to accept the award.

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The U.S. Department of Education honored 219 public and 50 private schools at a recognition ceremony. In its 30-year history, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed this award on nearly 7,000 of America's schools.

"D.C. was just an incredible experience," Ferri said.

While she was at the ceremony, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan opened the floor for questions Ferrie asked one on the stage.

"There were so many people and three flat screen TVs," Ferri said. "I felt like I was at the Grammys or something."

To select National Blue Ribbon Schools, the department requests nominations from the top education official in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Department of Defense Education Activity and the Bureau of Indian Education. The Council for American Private Education nominates private schools. A total of 417 schools nationwide may be nominated, with allocations determined by the numbers of K-12 students and schools in each jurisdiction. The Secretary of Education invites nominated schools to submit an application for possible recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School.

The U.S. Department of Education has acknowledged other Darien schools, such as Middlesex Middle School and Darien High School, through various awards programs.