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Cross Creek's Blue Ribbon Honor is a Reflection of Moral Focus Virtues

Principal Joe Nieuwkoop shared two stories that show how Cross Creek Charter Academy instills Moral Focus virtues in students at an assembly celebrating the school being named a 2023 National Blue Ribbon school Tuesday.
Nieuwkoop spoke of how second grader Salvatore Lomonaco, inspired by the positive messages he heard at a Lion Heart assembly, came up with an idea. He wanted to spell out “you belong here” using cups so that kids are reminded during recess that they are part of the Cross Creek family.

Principal with Salvatore Lomonaco
Cross Creek Principal Joe Nieuwkoop praises second grader Salvatore Lomonaco during the National Blue Ribbon School assembly.
Another second grade student, Josie Kuik, insisted on donating money to the school to ensure that every student can go on a field trip.
“What I love about those two stories is it’s not just learning about Moral Focus, it’s doing Moral Focus,” Nieuwkoop said.
State Rep. Angela Rigas, a mother of two Cross Creek students, presented the 2023 National Blue Ribbon award on behalf of State Rep. Aric Nesbitt. National Heritage Academies (NHA) Founder J.C. Huizenga and NHA Interim CEO Jason Pater also were in attendance to celebrate Cross Creek’s achievement and thank teachers and parents for all that they have done to support the school’s success.

Principal with State Rep.
State Rep. Angela Rigas presents Cross Creek Principal Joe Nieuwkoop with the 2023 National Blue Ribbon School honor.

“This honor will confirm to others what we already know – that Cross Creek is one of the best elementary schools in the state,” Pater said.

Cross Creek is one of 11 elementary schools in Michigan to receive this distinction in 2023 out of 353 nationwide, and it was identified as an Exemplary High Performing School, which means it is among the state's highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally recognized tests. Cross Creek, which has outperformed the local district for 13 years, is one of five National Heritage Academies (NHA) schools to be named as a National Blue Ribbon School, along with Greensboro Academy this year and Achieve Charter Academy, Canton Charter Academy, and Eagle Crest Charter Academy in the past.
Congratulations, Cross Creek!

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About Cross Creek Charter Academy
Cross Creek Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Byron Center, Michigan, serving students in Young 5s through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

Visit Cross Creek Charter Academy's blog to read more stories like this.