Manatee Elementary throws party for the ages to celebrate coveted honor


The Manatee Elementary School Chorus sang both "America the Beautiful" and "We're All in this Together" during a party to celebrate being named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.

VIERA VOICE Jill Blue Gaines


Manatee Elementary School celebrated the honor of being named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence during a Dec. 6 party at the Viera school.

“I want to share facts about the Blue Ribbon award,’’ said Carl Brown, who retired as principal at Manatee Elementary during the Christmas break. “There are only 342 schools chosen out of 130,000 in the entire United States. Of the 12 schools in Florida, only eight are elementary schools. And, Manatee was one of three in Brevard County and the only non-choice public school chosen.’’

Edgewood Junior/Senior High School on Merritt Island and Robert L. Stevenson Elementary School, also on Merritt Island, also earned the National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence honor.

Schools also are recognized for their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student sub-groups.

Manatee, which has been an A school since it opened in 2003 with Brown as its first and only principal, has earned numerous academic and service awards. It focuses on creating a sense of belonging and a history of tradition.

The school’s leaders also take pride in the school’s enrichment programs such as Heroes, a kindness and anti-bullying project; their environmental initiatives; and the Manatees Give Back community outreach group.

The school’s fifth graders also are given the unique opportunity to go on a three-day camping trip in the Ocala National Forest where they immerse themselves in hands-on, fun-filled science exploration.

“This award was earned because of hard work and the dedication of the teachers and staff,’’ said Brown, who has been an educator since 1991. “And, especially the students, our family of volunteers, our business partners and the entire school community.’’

It wasn’t an official going-away party for Brown, but it could have been. For a popular principal who enjoyed a special rapport with his students, the celebration was something to be shared.

The Manatee Elementary School Chorus sang “America the Beautiful’’ to begin the event. Brown gave a welcoming address, and special presentations were offered by Matt Susin and Molly Tice. Susin is the Brevard County School Board representative for District 4, and Tice is the legislative aide to Curt Smith, who is the Brevard County commissioner for District 4.

Jane Cline, the assistant superintendent for the Elementary Office of Leading and Learning, also spoke.

Brown finished the ceremony with closing remarks before the Manatee Elementary School Chorus sang “We’re All in this Together.’’

“I am so proud of Carl Brown’s leadership,’’ Susin said. “We are the district in the state of Florida that has the highest amount of years of experience of any other county in the state of Florida.’’