SHERIDAN — Henry A. Coffeen Elementary has been named a 2013 Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.

The school is one of 286 schools nationally that received the designation, and one of just three Wyoming schools. The Blue Ribbon School program was created in 1982 by the U.S. Department of Education to recognize schools that consistently perform well on state tests and schools that show significant improvement on test scores. Coffeen Elementary received the award for exemplary high performance.

“Five years ago our test scores didn’t meet even the state average,” Coffeen Elementary Principal Nikki Trahan said. “We had 12 percent in reading, 50 to 60 percent in language arts, but the last five years we have consistently improved that to where each year we are significantly above the state average.”

“I give huge credit to my teachers and to the staff and the students and parents,” she continued. “We go in there and say we are going to perform, there are no excuses. Like I tell the teachers, teach with intention, so every minute of every day they teach with intention. We love our students. We believe in our students and I think our students pick up on that belief in them. They knew they could do it.”

Trahan said the students knew they were nominated last year and have regularly asked about the award in the days since the new school year began. She said the school received word of the award last Tuesday and she shared the news with the students.

“They were so excited,” said Trahan. “They give us their best every day. They’ve been just beside themselves ecstatic. I don’t think they fully understand it and what that honor means, but I told them there were three schools that were nominated Blue Ribbon (in Wyoming) and we were the only elementary nominated this year.”

The school will host a public assembly on Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 9 a.m. in the school gym to celebrate the achievement. Parents and community members are welcome to attend.

“There are quite a few community members who have had a hand in achieving this lofty goal and definitely they are invited to attend,” said Trahan.

Additionally, Trahan said she received a congratulatory phone call from U.S. Senator John Barrasso and he wrote a supportive letter to the students. He will also have a staff member on hand for Wednesday’s assembly.

“Our kids are amazing,” said Trahan. “They are just an incredible group of kids. They are tight-knit and they work as a family to pull each other up. When you believe in kids, there is nothing they can’t accomplish.”