FLORENCE, Miss. (WJTV) – Florence Elementary can now call themselves a National Blue Ribbon School. The coveted award goes to schools that go above and beyond and is recognized by the United States Secretary of Education.

“This has been a long time coming. We have been working hard to maintain an ‘A.’ It’s been years of hard work and dedication,” said Principal Amanda Clark.

“It’s very rewarding. You stress. You love these kids. Just to be recognized nationally, that’s really a big honor,” said Alicia Stringer, who’s been teaching at Florence Elementary for almost a decade.

It’s the first award of its kind for the Rankin County elementary school.

Former Florence Eagle Governor Tate Reeves sent a congratulatory message at Florence High’s pep rally last Friday where teachers, parents and school staff celebrated the prestigious award.

Hayes Cooper Center in the Cleveland School District, Petal High School and Oak Grove Lower Elementary in Lamar County were on the list of this year’s National Blue Ribbon schools.