September 24, 2020

Amber Roseboom
Director of Media Relations
Catholic Diocese of Arlington

Saint James Catholic School in Falls Church, Va., Recognized as National Blue Ribbon School for 2020 by the U.S. Secretary of Education   

Recognition Highlights School's Academic Performance and the Achievement of Students, Educators and Families

ARLINGTON, VA - Saint James Catholic School (St. James), a pre-K-8 school of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington in Falls Church, Va., is being recognized as a high-performing National Blue Ribbon School for 2020. The award highlights the exemplary achievements of students, educators, families and the larger community at St. James. Only 50 non-public schools are recognized annually. This is the third time, the second in the last eight years, that St. James has received this distinguished recognition. See photo of the announcement at the school here.

“Saint James Catholic School has a long tradition of providing students exceptional instruction rooted in our Catholic faith. The Blue Ribbon award further recognizes the school's commitment to the highest standards of educational excellence,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Catholic Diocese of Arlington. “We know Catholic schools throughout the Diocese play a critical role in the holistic growth of children - spiritual, intellectual, emotional and social. I am so very grateful to the administration and teachers who have worked diligently to ensure we could continue offering safe, in-person instruction to students throughout the Diocese in these challenging times.”

St. James has an enrollment of 421 students for the 2020-21 academic year. The school is a longstanding institution of excellence in the community, having been established more than 100 years ago, in 1906, by the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. Since 1923, the school has been administered by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The school community is committed to educating the whole child within the Catholic faith tradition by promoting academic excellence and service. Imbued with the IHM charism, where Jesus is the center and Mary is the model, the administration strives to inspire, lead and challenge its students to develop their God-given abilities fully.

This year, St. James reopened for full-time in-person instruction. Students were phased in for the new year two to three grades per day to allow them the opportunity to learn new protocols. The school implemented a host of mitigation efforts to welcome students back safely and consistent with social distancing guidelines. Students and teachers are required to wear two-ply face masks. Hand sanitizer is outside every classroom, and touchless water filling stations are throughout the halls. The windows in each classroom have exhaust fans for added ventilation, and the school is using MERV 13 filtration in the HVAC. Classrooms have see-through plastic shields on each desk for added safety.

“This recognition is an incredible honor and speaks to the steadfast dedication of our administration, teachers and entire school community. Ultimately, everything we do is focused on offering the highest standard of individualized and holistic instruction to each and every student under our care,” said Sr. Mary Sue Carwile, Principal, St. James. “We know the pressures on young people, particularly today, are unprecedented. Our goal is to equip students not only to meet the challenges presented to them today but to excel and bring the hope of Christ to our communities as they grow.”

“We were thrilled to learn that St. James was selected as a national Blue Ribbon school yet again. This distinctive recognition is an acknowledgment of the mission-focused commitment to every student that is a hallmark of this remarkable school community,” added Dr. Joseph Vorbach III, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Diocese of Arlington.

The 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony will be held virtually on November 12 and 13, 2020. Schools will each receive their plaques and flags via U.S. mail.

For more information on Saint James Catholic School, visit

For additional information, contact Amber Roseboom, Director of Media Relations, Catholic Diocese of Arlington, at 571-215-8731 or


The Catholic Diocese of Arlington was established on August 13, 1974, and is home to 71 parishes and more than 460,000 Catholics. There are currently 276 priests serving in the Diocese and 45 seminarians discerning a priestly vocation. The Diocese has 37 parish (K-8) schools, four diocesan high schools, four independent Catholic schools and five free-standing (not connected with a parish school) pre-schools, serving more than 17,000 students. 

The Diocese includes the seven cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Manassas, Manassas Park, and Winchester and the 21 counties of Arlington, Clarke, Culpeper, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, King George, Lancaster, Loudoun, Madison, Northumberland, Orange, Page, Prince William, Rappahannock, Richmond, Shenandoah, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Warren and Westmoreland.