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The Spartans at R. & C. Saenz Elementary School anxiously waited in the school cafeteria as they watched a special live feed from the U.S. Department of Education. There was an event to announce schools that were going to be named 2023 Blue Ribbon Schools. As the seconds went by, the Spartans saw their school name “Roel A. and Celia R. Saenz Elementary School” announced, which was immediately followed by cheers and jumping for joy. R. & C. Saenz Elementary was nominated for the honor in spring 2023 by the Texas Education Agency. Founded in 1982, the Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students perform at very high levels.
Nationally, just 353 schools earned this honor in 2023, with only 26 schools in Texas being named 2023 Blue Ribbon Schools. Two other Roma ISD schools join R. & C. Saenz Elementary in this honor, including Emma Vera Elementary School in 2019 and F.J. Scott Elementary School in 2015. In total, Roma ISD has three blue ribbon schools out of nine traditional school campuses.
“These schools are a shining example of the great things happening in classrooms across Texas,” said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath. “Each foster strong learning environments, employ loving, dedicated educators who focus on student outcomes, and facilitate programs and support that positively shape the leaders of tomorrow. I join Texans everywhere in saying congratulations on this incredible recognition.”
Established in 1982, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed approximately 10,000 awards to more than 9,700 schools. The National Blue Ribbon School award affirms and validates the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in striving for – and attaining – exemplary achievement.
“This is a truly humbling and exciting day,” said R. & C. Saenz Elementary School Principal Odette Garcia. “We were simply thrilled to be a nominee, but being named a U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School is honestly the goal and dream of every educator. Words cannot express how grateful I am to every staff member, student, and parent who have devoted themselves to the execution of excellence in everything they do. We start each week thinking how can we do more and achieve more. We have amazing students who are committed to personal excellence, and they shine like brilliant diamonds every day. We are so honored and proud to bring this award home to shine the light on the amazing things happening at our school and in our community. We are blessed and hope we have made the family of our educator namesakes, Roel A. and Celia R. Saenz, very proud.”
National Blue Ribbon School leaders articulate a vision of excellence and hold everyone to high standards. They demonstrate effective and innovative teaching and learning, and the schools value and support teachers and staff through meaningful professional learning. Data from many sources are used to drive instruction and every student strives for success. Families, communities, and educators work together toward common goals. Winners are celebrated at a dinner in Washington, D.C. to take place later in the school year.
“This is a wonderful moment in our community’s history,” said Roma ISD Superintendent Carlos M. Gonzalez Jr. “Who would have thought 75 years ago during our district’s founding that Roma ISD would have not one, not two, but THREE U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon Schools?! For a small town on the Texas-Mexico Border, we have proven that with hard work, determination, and focus, anything is absolutely possible. I am bursting with pride at this accomplishment by our Spartans. They are real examples of excellence in action in everything they do. Congratulations to all our Spartans past and present – this award belongs to everyone of you!”
For more information about Roma ISD visit For more information about the U.S. Department of Education’s Blue Ribbon Schools Program visit