By David Carroll

COALMONT, TN (WRCB)- Grundy County High School was lauded as "a school where academics come first" by principal Rick Rust, announcing the school's designation as a 2010 National Blue Ribbon School.  Speaking to a packed gymnasium of students, teachers and community leaders, former principal Willie Childers said School of Excellence flag "should inspire all of you to make sure learning is always the priority."

On September 9, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recognized outstanding schools as 2010 National Blue Ribbon Schools.  The Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private schools whose students, regardless of backgrounds, are high performing. These are schools ranked among the state's highest performing schools as measured by their performance on state assessments. Grundy County High School is the only high school in Tennessee that is being recognized as a School of Excellence.

GCHS administrators and teachers attended the National Blue Ribbon Awards Ceremony on Tuesday in Washington, DC to receive the School of Excellence flag marking the  accomplishment.  Among those attending was teacher Karen Dickerson, who is an alumna of the school.  She called it "the greatest honor this school has ever received, and a real credit to these students and their parents."

Director of Schools Clay Newsome expressed his hope that "this will let everybody know what is going on here.  We're a rural community, but we want our children to know they can achieve anything they want, and go anywhere they want to go.  We've come a long way with technology, and we're not going to stand still."

Former Director of Schools Jody Hargis, who was in office when the application process was underway said, "I am so proud of everyone in this building.  We're a close-knit community.  We look out for each other, and we help each other.  This has been a team effort, and it just shows what you can accomplish when you work together."

Grundy County High is only the 23rd school ever to be awarded the Blue Ribbon status, and just the 10th high school in the state of Tennessee to do so.  The school was nominated by officials in the Tennessee Department of Education.