WESTLAKE, OH -- It's a Westlake elementary school that was considered one of the best in the country just a few years ago.
That’s why Hilliard Elementary is this week’s Fox 8's “Cool School”.
Hilliard Elementary students in Westlake are proud of their school. Back in 2012, the elementary school received the National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award, an honor these young students take very seriously.
"We got nominated for the National Blue Ribbon, which is as high as we can be and we got nominated in 2012, 3 years ago and we are still very proud, all of us, to be a National Blue Ribbon school,” said Andrew Huang.
Hilliard Elementary strives for excellence by creating an environment that promotes globally-minded, compassionate students who are knowledgeable and socially responsible. The students takes on special projects like it's Garden Club, where students learn and grow.
“Hilliard was the first elementary school to have a garden club and now all the other elementary schools have a garden club and also now, we are going to have a greenhouse," Stephanie Magana.
They may only be in elementary school, but these young students are learning French and Spanish as well.
"It is unique and it is a part , because of the International Baccalaureate program that our kids learn French, a second language at a younger age. Two of our schools in the elementary actually have French and two have Spanish," said Kim Tucker, school principal.
To promote togetherness and help stop bullying, the school has started a Buddy Bench program, so if a student feels lonely or bullied, he or she can sit down and other students will come to their side.
“It makes lots and lots of friends for people,” said Evelyn Duval.
One of the key programs at Hilliard Elementary is students get to learn community service and how important it is to give back.
“Two really good opportunities are coming up pretty soon, and that is Jump Rope for Heart and since 2000 students have really worked on jumping rope, raising money from their families and neighbors, so we give to the Heart Association and then we also give to Harvest for Hunger were we actually collect food for the Cleveland Food Bank,” said Tucker.
Hilliard is the only school in the district using the One School One Book program. The entire school is reading 'The World According to Humphrey' and they've even got a pet Hamster.
“The reason that it is one book is because we can talk the same language, we have the same discussions, I can go into any classroom and have discussions with the kids, the teachers and staff can discuss with any child because we are reading the same book, we are all speaking the same language," said Tucker.