A spotlight on Rollings Middle School of the Arts; National Blue Ribbon recipient

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SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCBD) – Rollings Middle School of the Arts in Summerville has been recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School for the year 2020.

Rollings Middle is one of the six schools in the state to be awarded the title by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

The school has amassed a number of state and national awards since their opening in 1997. Their most recent accolade begs the question: what makes a “Blue Ribbon School?”

According to the South Carolina Department of Education, the recognition is based on schools’ overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

If you were to ask the school’s principal Patrick Pye, what sets Rollings Middle apart from the rest is the incredible students.

“There are some very bright young students at this school,” he says.

The school is structured to allow the arts and academics to be equally important. Students must audition in one of 6 categories; band, dance, theatre, piano, strings, visual arts and vocal performance.

News 2’s Octavia Mitchell at a former visit with RMSA students

Pye has been an educator for 17 years; he’s been at Rollings Middle for 10 years and has been principal for the last 3. This is the first time he has worked at a school to be awarded The Blue Ribbon.

“And we were nominated by State Superintendent Molly Spearman, which really kind of adds to the notoriety of it. She visited our school last year and loved our school. In fact, she played piano in one of our classrooms and the kids sang,” says Pye.

He says one of the advantages of their school is the audition process because it allows the students to develop close relationships with their instructors. That said, building those bonds has been a challenge during the pandemic.

For Pye and his staff, receiving this award came at the perfect time.

“It was a really big boost for our staff and we definitely needed something to celebrate and it will give us the boost we need going forward. And hopefully we’ll have our kids back 5 days a week in a very short period of time,” he says.

317 public and 50 non-public school honorees will be celebrated virtually at the 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony on November 12 and 13. For more details on Rolling Middle School of the Arts, click here.

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