Being named a Blue Ribbon School, noted state Education Commissioner Deborah Gist, is the highest honor a school can receive.
"All of you together have made Stony Lane the school that it is today and the school that very deservedly is receiving the most important, the most prestigious award that is given ... to all schools in the United States," Gist said.
The event took place in the school gymnasium, which featured a brand-new mural in the fashion of artist Keith Haring. The beautiful mural, featuring bright colors and affirming words, was painted by students and teachers, under the direction of the school's two art teachers.
Supt. Phil Auger said the honor was personal for him, as a resident of North Kingstown and head of the school department.
"As you know, my own kids are part of this school department and I have been a member of this community for many years – a proud member. And to get to this point, in my career, where I am standing in front of you for this prestigious honor, is a big deal for me," Auger said.
Eva-Marie Mancuso, chair of the state Board of Education, is also a North Kingstown resident. She spoke of how she decided to move to North Kingstown years ago, after talking to then-colleague, now state representative, Bob Craven, who encouraged her to look at his town.
State Sen. Dawson Hodgson had the unique position Tuesday night of being the only official who had attended Stony Lane, completing fifth grade in 1989. He wore a little pin attached to a blue ribbon on his lapel, Stony the whale – a pin he'd received as a departing fifth grader all those years ago.
"Everything looks a lot smaller," he said of his return to his old school. "My boys are 2 and 4 ... I'm thinking about my own family. It's very special. I'm very proud, just as a resident of the town, seeing the recognition that the school has."
Principal Ed Ferrario was characteristically understated as he spoke of the collaboration of staff and families. Quoting something a parent said in an email to him a couple weeks ago, Ferrario said, "Every time I walk through the doors of Stony Lane, I am reminded how blessed we are that our boys are students at Stony Lane. The care and concern that you demonstrate for all our children is something that I'm so grateful for."
That about summed it up. Congratulations, Stony Lane Elementary!