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Gussner honored for National Blue Ribbon award

Gussner Elementary School Principal Peg Wagner shows off the official plaque the school received for being chosen a National Blue Ribbon School. She received the plaque from North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler, at podium, with Jamestown Public School Superintendent Robert Lech, standing, and Sen. John Hoeven, seated, looking on. (Chris Olson / The Sun)

The students at William S. Gussner Elementary School did a lot of cheering and singing Monday during a ceremony honoring the school as a National Blue Ribbon School.

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Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler spoke at the school Monday afternoon. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., sent a video message congratulating the students, staff and parents of Gussner Elementary.

The award was announced in September, according to Jamestown Public Schools.

Gussner was recognized as “exemplary high performing” under the National Blue Ribbon Schools program, a designation given to the highest performing school in each state. Dalrymple said two other North Dakota schools, — Edgeley Elementary School and Wyndmere Elementary School – were also chosen as National Blue Ribbon Schools.

Dalrymple said Gussner being selected as “exemplary high performing” in addition to the blue ribbon award was something the students and staff should be especially proud.

“It means everybody is doing a good job in this school,” he said.

Hoeven and Dalrymple each led the students in cheers, complimenting the students on their vocal abilities.

“That was impressive,” Hoeven said after one cheer.

Hoeven asked the students about what they want to be when they grow up, with responses of scientist, train driver and teacher. Hoeven said the students need to keep up their studies like they have been.

“The work you do here with your teachers is so important in your life,” he said.

Robert Lech, superintendent of Jamestown Public Schools, said everyone involved with Gussner Elementary deserves recognition for earning the award.

“You are one of three schools in North Dakota that was named a National Blue Ribbon School,” he said. Lech said he thinks the award shows that schools in North Dakota are not just about getting good test scores.

“It’s about learning and doing your best. I’m proud because I know you will continue to do your best,” he said.

Baesler said she was proud of all three North Dakota schools that received the national award and of how Gussner’s students, teachers and staff have adopted a team approach to learning and education.

“‘Team’ is not just a word here at Gussner, it’s a theme carried throughout the school,” she said.

Baesler said the team approach teaches the students to have ownership of their education.

“The Gussner students really are the stars of the show,” she said.

Gussner Principal Peg Wagner said she was pleased the school was able to host a celebration about the award.

“It was such a wonderful event,” she said. Past staff and administration members including former JPS Superintendent Robert Toso, former Gussner Principal Pete Carvel and former Gussner teacher Mike Rudy were brought to the stage by Wagner as part of a skit to thank them for their work with the school.

Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at

Chris Olson

Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University

(701) 952-8454