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INDIANAPOLIS — Six Northwest Indiana schools are recipients of Indiana's Gold Star Schools designation this year, a recognition given annually by the Indiana Department of Education in recognition of comprehensive school counseling programs.

All three elementary schools in the Griffith Public Schools system were named Gold Star Schools for the first time this year. Kesling Intermediate School and LaPorte Middle School, both of the LaPorte Community School Corp., joined Munster High School in renewing their previously attained Gold Star status, according to an IDOE news release.

The Gold Star designation is awarded based on initiatives taken to raise student achievement and improve overall student success throughout a school. Successful schools have done this through creating local school-community advisory groups tasked with maximizing students' time spent with counselors, according to the IDOE. Others have increased emphasis on student goal-setting and data collection.

A total 13 schools across the state received the 2019 recognition. Eight of those schools were first time recipients.

"Receiving Gold Star designation is evidence of a strong, collaborative and successful school climate," Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick said in the release. "I commend Indiana's 2019 Gold Star schools for understanding the positive impact school counselors, entire school teams and community members have in helping our students become fully prepared for the future."

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The designation has been given to more than 300 elementary, middle and high schools since its creation in 2004, according to the IDOE. 2019 Gold Star recipients will be formally recognized at the Indiana School Counselor Association fall conference this November.

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For more information on Indiana's Gold Star designation, see doe.in.gov/student-services/student-assistance/recognition.

See a complete list of 2019 Gold Star Schools:

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Education Reporter

Carley Lanich covers education in Lake County and throughout the Region. She comes to Northwest Indiana from Indianapolis and is an IU-Bloomington grad.