Four was a charm for Port St. Joe Elementary School.

Four was a charm for Port St. Joe Elementary School.

The College for Every Student organization (CFES) honored Port St. Joe Elementary with its fourth-straight “School of Distinction” award in a ceremony held on Monday.

The award recognized the school’s efforts to broaden horizons and raising aspirations among their students during the 2012-13 school year.

Port St. Joe Elementary is one of just 25 schools nationwide to receive the “School of Distinction” award and one of four schools to receive it four years in a row.

The award recognizes schools with exemplary programs that incorporate the three CFES core practices: Leadership through Service, Mentoring, and Pathways to College.

These schools not only provide intensive exposure to the three practices for targeted students, known as CFES Scholars, but create a college-going culture that promotes college readiness and success for the entire student body.

“The ‘School of Distinction’ program was created four years ago and Port St. Joe Elementary has received the honor all four years,” said CFES President and CEO Rick Dalton. “They have shown and continue to show their commitment to providing students with the tools and skills they need to be college-ready.”

CFES school liaison and program director Carol Cathey was on-hand to present the award to Principal Sue Gannon along with guidance counselor DeEtta Smallwood and a handful of student Scholars.

“We have a great school and a great program,” said Gannon. “We’ve had the CFES program since I was a teacher at the high school.

“We’re continuing to implement these programs even though our funding has dwindled because they’re so beneficial to students.”

After presenting a new banner recognizing the school’s achievements, Cathey shook the hand of each of the students and congratulated them on their accomplishments so far.

“The faculty and staff who implement the program do so as volunteers,” Cathey reminded the students. “They’re very good at it.”

Cathey also brought up recent graduate Javarri Beachum who upon graduation, was accepted to the Naval Academy Prep School. Cathey reminded students that Beachum had been part of the CFES program, too.

CFES has partnered with Gulf Coast State College to provide services to the school that include a two-year scholarship to an excelling student once they graduate.

“Gulf Coast State College is actively involved in helping Gulf County students get ready to get to college and stay there,” said Cathey.

To apply for the recognition, the school faculty and students created a submission portfolio to show that students could not only set goals, but reach them. A written plan for what the staff hoped to accomplish within the school year was also included in the portfolio.

The CFES program aims to help schools with global awareness of what makes students successful and more aware of their futures. Students in the program will mentor others and raise college awareness through college T-shirt day and complete various other projects throughout the year both inside and outside the classroom.