Mr. Bickes Accepts the Blue Ribbon Award for ACP

Photo taken from

Last week while students and teachers had fun learning in class, Mr. Bickes was on his way to Washington, D.C. for the National Blue Ribbon Award Ceremony. He was accompanied by Dr. Hester and Ms. Hester, who had filled out the application and submitted it to the Department of Education several months ago. Before fall break, at the end of September,  the U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced the National Blue Ribbon schools through a video, which the entire school watched together in the gym. After minutes of anticipation, we found out that ACP was one of 362 schools in the nation to be accepted for the award and one of five in Arizona.  To find out more about the award, click here.

Now, a couple months later, the Department of Education recognized the Blue Ribbon schools at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., which is where Mr. Bickes spent most of his week. He happily complied to answer some questions about the award ceremony and what went on.

Mrs. Wilson and Mr. Bickes accepting the award. Photo from the U.S. Department of Education.

Q: When and where was the ceremony? Did anyone else from ACP accompany you?

A: The ceremony was held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Virginia along the Potomac River. It was a very nice venue. Accompanying me on the trip were Dr. Hester, Ms. Hester, Ms. Osborn and those individuals who started this fun and crazy adventure with me back in 2007 when we opened the school’s doors for the first time – Mrs. Wilson, Ms. LeFevre, Mrs. Stout (Mrs. Berger is also among the first members of our school’s staff, but was unable to attend). It was a very nice time and I was glad we had the opportunity to celebrate and have some fun.

Q: What was it like, accepting the award for ACP?

A: It was an honor to accept the award on behalf of our school community. The award is a testament to the efforts put forth by everyone within our school to be the best we can be each and every day. It was a humbling experience learning how special this award is, and I was very honored to represent our school at the ceremony and accept our Blue Ribbon award.

Q: What does this award mean for our school? How do you feel about it?

A: Simply put, this award means we are among the best of the best. Less than a ½ of a percent of all schools in the nation received this award. It’s overwhelming when you put that into perspective – just how so few of our nation’s schools receive this honor. I hope everyone feels good about this award and being a part of ACP. However, this award also serves as a reminder of the importance of continuing to do what we do each and every day and to ensure that future generations of Knights have a Blue Ribbon education and opportunities. We always want to be better tomorrow than we are today and we need to keep this as our focus and not become apathetic in our craft.

Q: What were the steps in achieving this accolade?

A: Schools are nominated by the Arizona Department of Education – you cannot simply apply on your own to be a Blue Ribbon school – you must be selected by state officials. The state then reaches out to the district superintendent (Dr. Casteel) to inform them of their intent to nominate our school and ensure that the district approves of putting forth the application. Once everyone agreed to move forward with the nomination, two of our teachers, Dr. Hester and Ms. Hester, along with administration, completed the Blue Ribbon application form. We learned last summer that our application was received and was being reviewed and we would learn if our school earned the status of 2019 National Blue Ribbon School in the fall (which we did!).

Dr. Hester and Ms. Hester both filled out the award application for our school.

Q: What was the ceremony like? How many other schools were there?

A: The ceremony was more of a celebration. They kept referencing the ceremony and the award as the “Academy Awards for Schools.” The National Blue Ribbon is the highest accolade a school can receive, so the ceremony focused on how wonderful it was to receive this award and to celebrate and take-in this moment. There were 362 schools recognized this year.

Q: Did you do any sightseeing while you were in D.C.?

A: I did not do any sightseeing while in D.C., but I did go to some nice restaurants. There were numerous guest speakers and several break-out sessions during my time at the ceremony, and I enjoyed attending those meetings. It was very nice to hear several of the guest speakers confirm many of the ideas and structures that we have or hope to bring to our campus in the future.

Q: What was your favorite part about your trip to D.C.?

A: The award ceremony was very nice. I surprised myself when I danced on stage to accept the award – the presenter was very fun and joined in on the celebratory dance or shuffle, I guess. I also had a lot of fun riding a mechanical bull one evening. I’ve never done that before, and I thought I did pretty well for my first time. Sure, I was dizzy afterward, though and sore the next day too.

Thank you to Mr. Bickes for taking the time out of his busy schedule to give us a little insight of what occurred at the award ceremony. He will be presenting the 2019 National Blue Ribbon Award and Flag to the school today during the Knight Games pep assembly. Congrats Knights on this magnificent feat!