LINCOLN PARK — St. Josaphat School celebrated its new National Blue Ribbon award Tuesday with a raucous "pep rally" for students in the gymnasium.
St. Josaphat, 2245 N. Southport Ave., is the first Chicago school to win two National Blue Ribbons from the U.S. Department of Education, having also been recognized five years ago.
The 400 St. Josaphat students chanted, "S-J-S," "Let's go Hawks" and "We're No. 1" to celebrate at what Principal Nel Mullens called a "pep rally" Tuesday morning to start the school day.
It was also an opportunity to debut the school's brand-new Hawk mascot.
St. Josaphat cheers new Hawk mascot at pep rally celebrating National Blue Ribbon School honor. pic.twitter.com/T3w17Cj8LH— Ted Cox (@tedcoxchicago) October 3, 2017
"You guys are super-smart," Mullens told the students, quickly adding, "No one person can lay claim for this success. It belongs to everybody."
Lorelei Bobroff of the Archdiocese of Chicago chimed in, telling students, "Pat yourselves on the back, because you did a great job."
School parents thanked the faculty and staff, and Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer (D-Chicago) returned the sentiment by thanking parents for their support and commitment. Gainer said the school's achievement "emanates out" to the surrounding community.
According to Assistant Principal Jen Kowieski, the school earned the honor by making the top 15 percent in test scores for non-public schools in math and reading. Kowieski also touted "the great work you've been doing to serve others" through hurricane-relief drives that have produced more than 2,400 cans of food to be sent to hurricane victims this year.
"A positive culture strengthens our faith and purpose," Mullens said.
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the National Blue Ribbon schools last week, and Mullens and Kowieski will travel to Washington, D.C., in November to formally accept the award.