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O'Loughlin 'best school in the state of Kansas'




The weather outside Monday morning was frigid, but inside the O'Loughlin Elementary School gym, there was a warm glow of achievement.

Students were treated to a surprise assembly celebrating "hard work, good grades and attention to detail," said Nancy Harman, O'Loughlin principal.

Hays USD 489 officials were notified last week the school was selected by the Kansas State Department of Education to receive the National Title I distinguished school award.

The recognition is for exceptional student performance for two or more consecutive years.

Students in the grades K-3 applauded and chanted "O'Loughlin is really cool" as the honored guests, fourth- and fifth-grade students, entered the gym.

Interim Superintendent Dean Katt presented the award to Harman.

"You are the best school in the state of Kansas," Katt said.

Katt recognized the students, their parents and teachers.

"It really is an award for the whole school," said Mark Hauptman, USD 489 assistant superintendent of special services and Title I director.

Hauptman recognized O'Loughlin Title I teachers Gail Pratt and Krista Brooks.

The district has a total of six Title I teachers who support 175 students in reading and math.

The goal is to "help every child reach their ability," Hauptman said.

Students in the lower grades were rewarded with a free recess break, and those in fourth and fifth grades earned two recess breaks.

"We have the most amazing teachers in the state -- I think in the world," Harman said.

Harman emphasized the award was a team effort -- students, teachers, parents and support staff, such as those in nutrition and custodians.

Four years of sustained growth in achievement as determined by the Achievement Performance Index has put O'Loughlin at the top of the KSDE's list.

The national Title I program, initiated in 1965, serves more than 18 million students nationwide in pre-K through grade 12.

Schools must have a 35-percent participation rate in the national free/reduced lunch program to qualify for Title I funding.