HFEC, Haigh receive National Blue Ribbon School Awards

2021 National Blue Ribbon School logo

Representatives from Henry Ford Early College and Haigh Elementary visited Washington, D.C. in early November 2021 to accept their National Blue Ribbon School Awards from the U.S. Department of Education.

The schools learned earlier in the fall that they would be among 13 schools in Michigan and 325 across the country to receive the recognition this year.  On Friday, Nov. 5, Haigh Principal Zachary Short, HFEC Director Majed Fadlallah, and Superintendent Glenn Maleyko accepted the two awards during a ceremony aired live from Washington, D.C.

Mr. Short and Mr. Fadlallah, along with representatives from their schools, attended the Board of Education’s Nov. 8, 2021 meeting to talk about the awards.

Mr. Short noted that it takes a village to raise a child and thanked staff, students, PTA and others who are involved at Haigh Elementary School.

“I’m very proud of our community.  We are definitely going to celebrate this together, so coming back in the spring we are going to do a big outdoor event,” Mr. Short told trustees.

Haigh Elementary has 530 students in Young Fives kindergarten through fifth grade.  

Henry Ford Early College (HFEC) is an early middle college where students from across Wayne County are allowed to take classes for five years to earn both a high school diploma and associate degree in a healthcare field at no cost to their families.  Housed at Henry Ford College, HFEC has 240 students and is possible due to a partnership between the district, the college and Henry Ford Health System. 

Mr. Fadlallah said, “As we received this award in D.C. they told us to brag, so I’m going to brag.” He noted that of 13 Michigan schools that received a National Blue Ribbon Award this year, HFEC was the only high school,  In fact, it is only the 10th high school in Michigan to be honored with a Blue Ribbon Award since the program started, and all the other high schools were in wealthier districts.

“We are a full Title 1 School with a 70 percent low-income rate. We have (English language learner) population,” Fadlallah said.  “I am very, very proud of our students. I am thankful for the parents who trusted their kids with us.  I am extremely appreciative to the staff and faculty of Henry Ford College.  Without them, none of this could happen.” 

He also read a list of staff at HFEC, who he said were the secret of the school’s success.

The award presentation brings Dearborn Public Schools to five of the prestigious National Blue Ribbon School awards in as many years. Three other schools in the district were previously named National Blue Ribbon Schools – Iris Becker Elementary in 2017, STEM Middle School in 2018 and Charles A. Lindbergh Elementary in 2019.

Henry Ford College President Russ Kavalhuna also spoke to the board during the Board’s November meeting. He, too, attended the events in Washington, D.C. including meetings before the ceremony with federal legislators.

“As a citizen of this community, this is extraordinary but ordinary in Dearborn, if you look at the success rate this public school district puts out with its size, and frankly with the challenges it has,” Dr. Kavalhuna said.

He noted legislators knew of HFEC.

“It is a national model such that one of our United States senators and one of our congresswomen said to us we are a national standard,” Dr. Kavalhuna said. “That’s something you can be extraordinarily proud of, and it is something Henry Ford College is extraordinarily proud of also.”