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Colorado Department of Education (CDE) Commissioner Susana Córdova paid a special visit to Pioneer Elementary School (PIES) to celebrate being named a National Elementary & Secondary Education Act Distinguished School of Excellence.

With students and staff gathered inside the school gymnasium, Córdova surprised PIES with a $10,000 reward for their recent achievement.

“I want to congratulate the PIES principal, staff and students for this achievement,” Cordova said. “The educators at Pioneer Elementary are raising the bar for what is possible for Colorado students, and this is incredibly well-deserved recognition of their efforts.”

The award is only given to two schools in Colorado for their combination of academic achievement and creative and innovative programs over several years.

PIES staff said the award validated their continued dedication to providing all students with a quality education. Wendy Hickox, a PIES Writing Coach told news reporters, "We work together as adults, the kids are working together, it's all collaboration. So, I want them to look and say, I've got a goal, and I can achieve it if I work together and collaborate with one another.”