Cedar Hill Prep School Celebrates ‘National Blue Ribbon’ Designation

Nan Menon, founder of Cedar Hill Prep School, said everyone connected with the school played a part in its winning the National Blue Ribbon Award.

Cedar Hill Preparatory School celebrated its designation as a National Blue Ribbon School by throwing itself a party on Jan. 13.

The Cedar Grove Lane school was one of 17 New Jersey schools to win the designation for 2017 from the U.S. Department of Education. Nationally, 342 schools were announced to be Blue Ribbon winners in September 2017.

Music, food, speeches by visiting dignitaries and alumni and games highlighted the celebration, which took place in the school’s gymnasium.

Nandini Menon, the school’s founder, said the school has qualified for the honor for the past 13 years by test scores, but the administration never applied for it.

“Last year, the teachers and I said we need to apply because we’ve always had the numbers, and we applied and we were so appreciative that we won it,” she said.

Menon said she did not realize that a private school being named a Blue Ribbon school carries a different weight than a public school with that designation.

“The difference between a Blue Ribbon for a public and private school is significant, because a public school can just be about graduation rates or if you can show improvement,” she said. “But for a private school, the students had to score in the top 15 percent in the country, and we had to write a proposal that showed to them why we were different, and why our students were so accomplished.”

“When we went (to Washington, D.C.), they said, do you realize this is a big deal?” Menon said. “They said it was harder to get this than for a good sportsman to be picked up by the NBA or NFL. So we were like, oh, this is a big deal.”

“And then when we got to Washington, that’s when we really realized that it was a big deal, because everybody was making a big deal about it,” she said. “It was awesome.”

Menon said everyone connected to the school played a part in the honor.

“Like we said when they announced we won it, it was by the effort of the teachers, the staff , the administration and the students,” she said. “This is a true award for every member of the school.”

On hand to help the school celebrate were several alumni, including 16-year-old Pranav Pulakkat, a junior at Princeton Day School.

Pulakkat, who attended the school in the 2nd through 8th grades, said CHP helped him with his social skills, as well as developing his skills in debate and in English.

“It’s a good school,” he said.

The township was represented by Mayor Phil Kramer, Deputy Mayor Shanel Robinson and Township Councilman Rajiv Prasad (D-At Large), and state Assemblyman Joe Danielen (D-17) also stopped by.

Prasad noted that he and Menon attended school close to each other in Calcutta, India; he to an all-boys’ boarding school, adn she to convent, one of the principals of which was Mother Teresa, now known as Saint Teresa of Calcutta.

“It’s no coincidence that Nan has excelled here because she followed in some very good footsteps,” he said.

Kramer said high-performing schools in the township are good for Franklin.

“Thank you for making Franklin better,” he said. “That’s what you’re dong every day here and that’s what you’re doing for the future with the kids. The town is better when we have good schools in town, and apparently, this is one of the greatest schools we’ve ever had. So we thank you for being that.”

“I want to thank the kids for doing the hard work that made this school great; I want to thank the teachers and the staff for the work they do to make this school great, but what I really want to do is thank the parents who made the sacrifice in many many ways, in time and money and just your heart, for making this school great,” he said. “Please keep it up, we need you.”

“It is indeed an honor to be here to celebrate your coveted award,” Robinson said. “It’s a sacrifice, but it’s also an investment.”

“What we do for our children, what we do for our future, it’s all an investment,” she said. “So students, we need a return on the investment. Continue to soar, continue to aim high and continue to be that blue ribbon school that you have received this award for.”

Robinson then read a proclamation from the Council congratulating the school on its award, which noted that the school “earned this award by the tireless pursuit of perfection by the students, staff, management and parents.”


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