SOUTH BEND – To say Mr. Eller is proud is an understatement.
"You hear about the negative things young people do, but young people do great things everyday," said Jameson Eller, teacher at LaSalle Intermediate Academy.
Eller pointed to his wall of fame posted for his class to see.
A lot of talent roamed the halls of the LaSalle Academy.
The students here work hard.
The teachers and administrators also put in work. Now, the school is getting recognition for it from the federal government:
"It's like winning an NFL championship," said Guidance Counselor Dana Strabavy. "It is just the acknowledgement that what you are doing in your community means something."
The U.S. Department of Education recognized LaSalle Academy as a National Blue Ribbon School.
What that means: Student performance here is among the highest in the state. The curriculum also looked at.
LaSalle is among six schools in St. Joseph County that earned the distinction, since 2003. Three of those schools are private.
According to the Department of the Education, at least 40% of the student population at LaSalle has a disadvantaged background.
"As a team, we worked together to create what we always thought was a great school," said Eller.
Leaders say this is good news for a school and the corporation that lost more than 600 students last year because of school choice and the state voucher program.
"I think it will open the door and open the eyes of people," said Connie Graham, 5th grade teacher. "Look at this as an option that school choice could be within your own community, It doesn't have to be outside your community. It could just be down the street, next door."
LaSalle and the other 269 schools honored will go to Washington D.C. for a recognition ceremony this November.
Webster Elementary in Plymouth also honored.