Aurora -- U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. last week announced selection of nine Ohio schools -- including Leighton School in Aurora -- as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2016.

The award is based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Also recognized was Grace L. Roxbury School in Solon and Bissell Elementary in Twinsburg.

"National Blue Ribbon Schools are proof that we can prepare every child for college and meaningful careers," King said in a video message to honorees.

"Your schools are on the cutting edge, pioneering innovative educational practices--professional learning communities, project-based learning, social and emotional learning, positive behavior systems--making you shining examples for your communities, your state and the nation."

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students achieve very high learning standards or are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gap.

The award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging content.

Now in its 34th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed the coveted award on fewer than 8,500 schools.

Leighton's honor will be recognized at a gathering Nov. 7-8 in Washington, D.C., which will be attended by Principal Paul Goodwin and Leighton media specialist Jennifer Kinkoph.

"THE BOARD of Education is very proud of the efforts of Leighton School teachers, administrative team, support staff and students whose hard work and excellent efforts have earned this prestigious award," said Board President Gerald Kohanski.

"We're very happy to have Leighton join Harmon and Aurora High as National Blue Ribbon schools. The Aurora community can justifiably be proud of this rare achievement of having three Blue Ribbon schools in our district."

Goodwin, added: "The 2016 National Blue Ribbon Award°is the culmination of at least five years of continued academic excellence.

"It's the result of well-developed°educational plans being put into°practice by excellent teachers and staff who understand the significance of what we do in this district.

"Our job is to help every student succeed to the best of his or her ability.°We believe we work exceedingly hard to make that happen.°It is such a privilege to be part of this°learning environment.

"What a terrific and wonderful°honor for this staff, this school district and this community."

And Superintendent Pat Ciccantelli stated: "Leighton was one of only 329 schools in the country, and one of only six elementary schools in Ohio to earn this recognition. Congratulations to Mr. Goodwin, the faculty, staff and all of the students.

"We'd also like to thank and congratulate the parents who play a significant role in Leighton earning this award. Lastly, we'd like to thank the faculty and staff at Miller and Craddock for providing the foundation for these students to achieve at the necessary levels to earn this distinction.

"This award is given to schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. These schools demonstrate that all students can achieve to high levels.