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Perth Amboy Vocational-Technical High School Celebrates Federal Blue Ribbon Status

APRIL 19, 2013 -- Principal Robert Fuller raised a flag in front of Perth Amboy Vocational-Technical High School to cap a celebration of the school’s designation as a national Blue Ribbon School, one of just 17 schools in New Jersey and 269 nationally to receive the honor in 2012.

Fuller welcomed guests to “a very special day” in the history of his school. He said the recognition is the result of “increased expectations” by administrators, faculty, staff, parents and students.

“We know that great schools have great principals, great teachers and great staff, and we also know that this school has great students,” said Brian J. Loughlin, superintendent of schools for the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District.
Loughlin listed some of the achievements that led to the nomination of Perth Amboy Tech by the state Department of Education.

He said Perth Amboy Tech’s enrollment has increased from 197 students in 2003, when the new school building was completed, to 299 – one below capacity – for the 2012-2013 school year. At the same time, the mobility rate – which tracks the number of students coming and going before graduation – has declined 89.4 percent.

Perth Amboy Tech’s class of 2012 saw 72 percent of students continue their educations after graduation, double the 2003 rate. 2013 Graduates received $450,000 in scholarship offers, Loughlin said.

Student performance on the state high school proficiency test increased 56 percent in language arts and 167 percent in math over the nine years, Loughlin said, despite the fact that 41 percent of entering ninth-graders are considered “at-risk” for failure in language arts and 57 percent are at-risk in math. Perth Amboy Tech is a Title I school, meaning a large percentage of its students come from economically disadvantaged families.

“It’s really a rare opportunity when we get to do a ceremony like this,” said John F. Bicsko Jr., president of the MCVTS Board of Education. “I hope that I’m still around and we can do this again.”

Bicsko presented a copy of the Blue Ribbon School plaque received from the U.S. Department of Education to Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios, who cited the freeholders’ longstanding support for vocational education.

“The benefits of this support are evident today,” Rios said.  “The Perth Amboy campus is recognized at the national level for its dedication to ensuring students’ success.  That speaks volumes to the quality education being offered within these walls every day.”

Freeholder Charles E. Tomaro, liaison to MCVTS, echoed Freeholder Director Rios’ comments: “The Board is deeply impressed by the sense of community that fills these halls and the great accomplishments that flow from them.  Be proud of what you have earned.”

MCVTS, the oldest vocational school district in the nation, will be celebrating its centennial next year. Perth Amboy Tech is the first school in the district to receive Blue Ribbon designation.
Assemblymen Patrick Diegnan Jr. and Craig J. Coughlin presented an Assembly resolution honoring Perth Amboy Tech.

“I’m not surprised at this event today,” said Diegnan, chairman of the Assembly Education Committee. “Vocational schools are a shining example of the excellence of New Jersey education.”

Brittany Guben of East Brunswick, a theater arts student at East Brunswick Tech, sang the national anthem, while Perth Amboy Tech senior Jose Bonilla of Carteret led the Pledge of Allegiance to being the ceremony. Fuller announced that Jose, who aspires to be an aerospace engineer, had been accepted to the University of Maryland.