SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – It was an exciting day for students at O’Gorman High School. For the fourth time, they were recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School.

1983…2005…2014… and now 2021, the Department of Education has named O’Gorman High School a Blue Ribbon School.

“To win the Blue Ribbon a fourth time is just something affirms everything that we’ve been working so hard to try to maintain our rigor through the pandemic and through school closure and the high standards that we had to try to maintain and now to keep going,” principal Joan Mahoney said.

To be considered for this award, high schools must be in the top 15 percent of the nation for standardized test scores. But it goes beyond just those numbers.

“They really try to get a feel for your entire school,” Mahoney said. “Your curriculum and instruction, but also your culture and climate, your family, school/family relationships.”

A good school culture is something students Keegan Wenande and Megan VanDenHemel can attest to.

“One thing I enjoy a lot is, you know, how much each student participates,” senior Keegan Wenande said. “We get a lot of participation in, you know, school functions as well as extra curricular’s and all that jazz. So it’s just kind of cool to be a part of like a family in a way where everybody cares about the school.”

“It really does set us apart from the rest going here,” senior Megan VanDenHemel said. “I know my sister, she’s a junior in college right now at NSU, up in Aberdeen, and, you know, professors see that she’s from O’Gorman and they think a little differently, they think higher of her and I think that’s really cool.”

It was a surprise celebration for all their hard work this last year.

Only 50 high schools received the honor this year. O’Gormann is the only high school in South Dakota to win this award more than once.