MARSHALL?- It was a great day to be a Tiger Wednesday for Park Side and West Side students and staff as they celebrated being named one of only nine Schools of Excellence in the state by the Minnesota Elementary School Principals' Association.
The schools celebrated with a program followed by an ice cream treat on the lawn at Park Side Elementary.
Heidi Critchley, the Marshall Elementary principal, kicked off the afternoon by telling the students, staff and parents that the honor was awarded because "we have so many people who work hard every day to make our school a school of excellence. Let's take a moment to recognize the kiddos and the staff."
Photos by Karin Elton
Tiger-orange wearing West Side students listened to a presentation by their principal, superintendent, teachers and students in celebration of being named a School of Excellence.
She also thanked her predecessor, Bill Swope, who left the school in good shape after 27 years of teaching and administrating before retiring.
"I will continue to build upon what he started," she said.
Critchley thanked all the staff that make up Park Side and West Side including the assistant principal, special education services, nurses, maintenance workers, cafeteria workers and social workers.
"We want the very best - all of us - for each and every student," she said. "I am truly blessed to be part of such an amazing staff. Thank you very much."
She thanked the teachers for their part in the school's success.
"The primary level is so blessed to have your support as we meet the needs of our community and students," she said. "I really appreciate your level of commitment and service to our school system. Your jobs are not easy ones. I don't think people understand all the time you put in. You perform your jobs with compassion and decency and we appreciate you."
She also thanked the parents and guardians for being "the foundation for the students. Your partnership allows for us to help students reach for the stars. Thank you for sharing your children with us and for trusting us with their education. We hope you truly understand that we could not have the success that we have without you. Thank you for sending your children to our school. We realize what an awesome, awesome compliment that is."
She also thanked community members for their support of the program.
"Thank you for your kindness and unconditional support," she said. "Marshall cares about its children, period. It is as simple as that. Thank you community members for your support today."
Last, but not least, she acknowledged the students.
"Students, you are the reason we are all here today," she said. "There is not a person in this room that does not want the best for you which is why we strive for excellence every single day. I've told you this before and I'll tell you again - I am so lucky to be your principal. Thank you for being the special people you are - so brave, so kind and so smart. I'm so proud of you. You all rock."
Critchley said the endeavor began when Marshall Superintendent Klint Willert brought the application to her attention more than two years ago.
"It all started with a little note in the mail from Superintendent Willert. Mr. Willert knows me well and knows I am competitive and always up for a challenge and he gave me one. As I started to review the application process, I realized how many areas the criteria of excellence we already excelled in."
Critchley said she shared the application criteria with her primary level staff and "we saw the good, the great, the excellent and along the way we saw areas of improvement."
After Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes, teachers Vicki Lamprecht and Brenda Byrnes and Willert addressed the audience, P. Fred Storti, Minnesota Elementary School Principals' Association executive director, presented two awards to Critchley - one for Park Side and one for West Side. The Marshall primary level is validated as a School of Excellence for seven years.