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September 29, 2016 • Headline News
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South Ripley Jr. High named Blue Ribbon school

South Ripley Junior High School has been named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence for 2016. It is the first time a public school in Ripley County has ever received the award in the 34 year history of the program. The school is just one of 329 schools across the country to be awarded the prestigious recognition, and only eight in Indiana were nominated for it. The announcement was made by the US Secretary of Education John B. King Jr on Wednesday.

Schools are nominated for the award by the state department of education, and then complete a comprehensive application about school practices. Schools may apply for status as Exemplary High Performing, among the top schools in a state, or Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing, schools making the fastest progress in the their state in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. South Ripley Jr. High, with 202 students in 7th and 8th grade, was awarded for closing the achievement gap in student subgroups.

South Ripley Supt. Rob Moorhead was thrilled and called it an incredible honor. “This is the first time we have ever been nominated, and I believe we were nominated based on our students producing consistent exemplary results on state assessments.  We have achieved Four Star School Status for the past four years and have consistently produced some of the highest passing rates in the state on the ISTEP in grades 7 and 8. We have produced these great results even though our demographics (18% special education and 55% free and reduced lunch) would suggest that this would be challenging.”   The school was nominated by the Indiana Dept. of Education.

Destiny Rutzel, who is in her third year as principal at the junior high, credited the staff for their collaboration, team approach, and of taking ownership of each student. “It’s something I haven’t seen everywhere else,” she commented. “The success of South Ripley Junior High School is a true example of what happens when you build relationships with students and have an exceptional staff that works together to meet the needs of every child,” stated Rutzel. “It goes to show that all students can be successful when you believe in them and show them that you care.”

In making the announcement by video message to the honorees, U.S. Secretary King said, “National Blue Ribbon Schools are proof that we can prepare every child for college and meaningful careers.” He said they are shining examples for your state and community. South Ripley Junior High plans to hang a Blue Ribbon banner and erect a permanent sign outside.

Moorhead commented the award affirms the hard work taking place and the instructional strategies being implemented. He also mentioned the direction provided by the school board and leadership of building level administrators and counselors as a contributor, “The excellent instruction provided by our classroom teachers, the hard work of our students, the partnerships with our parents, and the support of the entire community have all contributed to the attainment of this outstanding achievement.  The entire South Ripley Community should be extremely proud of this accomplishment. “ Moorhead said this award is a positive reflection of great things that are happening throughout the corporation. “I am extremely proud to be the superintendent at South Ripley and to be a part of this national recognition.”

On Nov. 7 and 8, the U.S Department will formally recognize the 279 public and 50 private schools at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. Moorhead, Rutzel and counselor Joyce Druba will attend. The staff celebrated the school’s Four Star School recognition and this new award at a special Wednesday night dinner at Ertel’s Winery. A school and community celebration will be held later.

Many attend Dairy Queen reunion
Reliving the ice cream fights and DQ curl!

Arlene Knudson

Can you still make the curl? That was the question former and current employees of the Versailles Dairy Queen were asked at the Sept. 24 Dairy Queen reunion. And, yes, they all could top the ice cream cone with the famous DQ curl. About 75 former and current employees gathered at the restaurant on US 421 on Saturday to reminisce about their days at Dairy Queen but also to visit with the owners, Phyllis and Ed Armbrecht and Larry and Brenda Armbrecht who have run the restaurant for 37 years.

Versailles DQ reunionSUBMITTED PHOTO
Former and current employees gathered for the Versailles Dairy Queen reunion.

The reunion was the brainstorm of their six grown children. It was meant as a thank you to their parents for all the support and encouragement given to not only them, but to so many others as well. Karen Cole, Stacey Stuteville and Amy Gosser are Larry and Brenda’s children and Brian Armbrecht, Jennifer Bunselmeier and Becky Turner are Phyllis and Ed’s children. Becky Turner, who worked there in the early 1990s, said it was fun Saturday to hear how the tradition of whipped cream fights on the closing night for the season have continued. “The tradition goes way back.” She and others relived ice cream fights they had and tricks they played on customers.“One was breaking off the end of a blizzard spoon so all you had was a stick to eat it with!” Or tying knots in straws. “It was all in good fun” she said, and usually happened to someone they knew.

Many who came Saturday shared that this was their first job. It was here that they learned such life skills as the value of hard work, to get along with others, to be punctual, dependable and responsible. They took this experience to other professions and became teachers, nurses, accountants, even a pastor and author. Dede Fields and Polly Kellerman showed up for the reunion. The best friends worked at DQ in the 1980s. Both stated it was the best job ever to help prepare a teenager in handling future commitments. Fields, an administration and clinical consultant, now sees a trend of companies trying to help businesses to learn how to keep employees happy and productive. She said the Armbrechts knew intuitively and implemented this philosophy in their business.

“We became a family and we care about each other,” said Phyllis Armbrecht when talking about the folks who have worked at the DQ. The guests came from within the county and elsewhere to reconnect with their former co-workers and employers. They were invited to sign a DQ poster and add what they are doing now, and for old times sake, to make their own meal and dessert. They also got to see where many had left their mark: the post in front of the business where tradition had it that each employee signed it. The Armbrechts were thrilled to see everyone and look forward to making new memories.

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