The Blair Oaks cafeteria filled with teachers clad in green Friday afternoon, but the theme of the day was blue.
As LeAnn Rimes' "Blue" faded from the speakers and blue-iced cupcakes sat atop the tables, Assistant Superintendent Kimberley Walters addressed the elephant in the room.
"If you're in elementary or intermediate, you already kind of know what's happening, but ... have you picked up a theme? Did you notice the music?" she asked.
"Blue!" shouted someone in the crowd.
"Did you notice the cupcakes?" she asked.
Elementary Principal Tara Bishop announced the reason for the theme.
"Blair Oaks Elementary is a 2022 National Blue Ribbon School," she said to applause.
Blair Oaks found out the school was nominated in the winter, but Friday it was announced as a winner.
Blair Oaks Elementary is among seven other schools in the state and less than 300 in the nation to achieve the distinction this year.
Schools are recognized based on their overall academic performance or improvement to close achievement gaps.
"National Blue Ribbon Schools serve as models of effective school practices for state and district educators and other schools throughout the nation," according to a Friday news release from the U.S. Department of Education. "A National Blue Ribbon School flag gracing a school's entryway or on a flagpole is a widely recognized symbol of exemplary teaching and learning."
Nominations are made by the top education official in each state and territory, and private schools are nominated by the Council for American Private Education.
Bishop said she was proud of the teachers and staff who helped achieve the honor.
"We wish we could sing your praises all the time, and I'm talking all of you. Not just to the people in this community, not just to the people in the state, but to the people in the nation, because they need to know about you," she told the teachers.
Bishop said in an interview that parental involvement, academic expectations, and collaboration and teamwork have translated to success for the school.
"It is a huge honor for the school to be recognized for their hard work. People don't realize how much work teaching and education is," Bishop said. "Everyone is all-in for kids. It's not just teachers, it's support staff, it's office staff, it's our nurses, it's our lunchroom, it's our intervention. That's the main thing -- everyone is all-in for kids."
Other Missouri schools that achieved National Blue Ribbon status this year are:
• Dewey Elementary School, Chillicothe.
• Kirkwood Senior High School.
• Chapel Lakes Elementary School, Lee's Summit.
• Epic Elementary School, Liberty.
• Nixa High School.
• Immaculate Conception School, Springfield.
• Eugene Field Elementary School, Webb City.