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"Joe Courtney has proved to be an effective congressman for the 2nd Congressional District that covers the eastern half of Connecticut." New London Day, 10/28/2016
"Courtney’s tireless work ethic, intellectual vigor and sound legislative judgment have enabled him to represent the vast 2nd District ably" Norwich Bulletin, 10/30/2016
"Courtney is a bright, energetic and hard-working member of Congress who has earned another term." Hartford Courant, 10/25/2012


By Ryan Blessing

NORWICH — It was more than a usual day for the students at Thomas W. Mahan Elementary School on Monday, when U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney and assorted school officials and media toured the classrooms to see how a nationally-recognized Blue Ribbon Award school operates.

The hourlong tour not only gave Courtney, D-2nd District, the chance to present the school with a special plaque. It also was a chance for him to ask the children and their teachers some questions, and for the students to have a chat with the congressman.

One of them was fourth-grade student Shylynn Martinez.

“Have you seen the president,” Martinez asked Courtney. He said that in his time in Congress, he’s worked with three: George W. Bush, Barack Obama and now Donald Trump.

“Was President Obama really cool,” Martinez asked later.

“I did get to play golf with him once, and he’s a really nice guy,” Courtney replied.

The Blue Ribbon designation is a U.S. Department of Education honor that “affirms the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging content,” according to the department’s website.

Mahan was recognized as an “Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing School,” awarded to a high-performing school working toward closing achievement gaps between subgroups and all students over the past five years.

Courtney started the tour with a visit to Danielle Sandoval’s kindergarten class. The students sat together on the floor and read a Thanksgiving poem, titled “Five Little Turkeys,” to Courtney.

“Five little turkeys, escaping from a farm,” the students said in unison. “The first one said, ‘I will turn off the alarm.’”

“It’s really exciting to be here,” Courtney said. “This is a big deal.”

Courtney said Mahan stands out among the roughly 10,000 elementary schools in the country, and the 300 who receive the Blue Ribbon award.

“This award is given to a very small fraction of those 10,000 schools. The reason it’s given is because the Blue Ribbon schools are doing such a great job,” he said. “This is not given out randomly. You’ve got to perform great. They’ve looked at the scores you’ve been working hard on all these years and seen how much you improved.”

Principal Donna Funk thanked the teachers, administrators and the students who helped the school earn its national recognition.

“It takes a team, and we work extremely well as a team, especially you, boys and girls. You work so hard,” Funk said.

Also visiting Monday were Board of Education members Yvette Jacaruso and Kevin Saythany.

Superintendent of School