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South Davis Elementary School in Orchard Park and Maple West Elementary in Amherst have been named National Blue Ribbon Schools.

The schools are among 286 to be recognized by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The recognition is based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in improving student academic achievement.

“Excellence in education matters, and we should honor the schools that are leading the way to prepare students for success in college and careers,” Duncan said. “National Blue Ribbon schools represent examples of educational excellence, and their work reflects the belief that every child in America deserves a world-class education.”

“Excellence in education matters as Secretary Duncan said,” Orchard Park Superintendent Matthew McGarrity said, adding that the district strives for a “high level of commitment to student learning.”

South Davis joins Eggert Road Elementary in Orchard Park, and Maple West joins Casey Middle in the Williamsville District, two schools which received the designation in 2007.

They are two of 18 schools designated as National Blue Ribbon Schools in New York.

The program, which was created in 1982, recognizes public and private schools where students perform at “very high levels or where significant improvements are being made in students’ academic achievement,” according to the federal program.

The U.S. Education Department will honor 236 public and 50 private schools at a recognition ceremony on Nov. 18-19 in Washington, D.C.