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Northwestern High School is one of the top schools in the country and the only one of its kind in the state of Indiana.

That’s according to the United States Department of Education, which named the Howard County high school one of its National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2022.

The designation goes to schools that demonstrate strong academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups, according to a DOE news release.

Northwestern High School earned the award as an “Exemplary High-Performing School.” Principal Tim Shoaff said they were nominated by the state of Indiana.

Graduation rates, performance on state assessments or national tests, like the SAT, and attendance are factors considered.

“It’s the assurance you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, and not at a mediocre level, but at a nationally recognized level,” Shoaff said.

Northwestern High School is one of 297 Blue Ribbon schools in this year’s cohort. It’s also the only public high school in Indiana to receive the award. The only other Indiana high school to receive Blue Ribbon distinction this year was the private Cathedral High School in Indianapolis.

Only 10 schools in Indiana earned the recognition for 2022.

Northwestern High School earned Blue Ribbon status once before, in 2006.

Shoaff credited the community for the award as it takes teachers, parents and students to be a top-notch school.

“It takes all three working together to be a high achieving school,” the principal said.

Shoaff credited school culture as an influential factor in producing academic success and successful students.

The principal said teachers feed off one another through professional learning committees, groups of teachers who review what’s working and share best practices.

There’s also homeroom period. Called face to face at Northwestern High School, the class is sort of like study hall. The same group of students have homeroom all four years together and with the same teacher.

The high school’s goal is to ensure every student has a trusted adult they can turn to at school. Many students say their adult is their homeroom teacher.

“The kids feel valued and seen,” Shoaff said. “I think that’s a big deal.”

Northwestern High School was also named a College Success Award winner by GreatSchools, a nonprofit whose website provides ratings and comparison tools for schools nationwide. The College Success Award goes to schools that excel at preparing students to enroll and succeed in college.

Eastern and Tipton high schools also received the College Success Award this year.

Northwestern High School will be recognized at the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program 2022 Award Ceremony in November in Washington, D.C.

Spencer Durham can be reached at 765-454-8598, by email at or on Twitter at @Durham_KT.

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