MONONGAH, W.Va. – A small town in Marion County is celebrating a big award. Monongah Middle School was named a National Blue Ribbon School on Tuesday by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Monongah Principal Claude Malnick called it a great honor.

“I’m proud to be in Monongah. Totally proud to be an administrator with such great students and such great faculty,” stressed Malnick.

The principal knew the school was one of three nominated by the state for the award. But he said actually getting the news was a wonderful moment and they wanted to make it special for everyone. He and his staff rushed to get a special assembly set up Tuesday afternoon to make the announcement.

“It’s about the students. It’s about the faculty and it’s about the community. We wanted to let them know before they left school,” said Malnick.

So what’s the secret to their success? Malnick said it comes down to hard work and giving the students something to reach for.

“We set expectations very high here. We’ve been doing that for several years,” according to the principal. “The students really react to that.”

The school has just a couple hundred students and 29 faculty members. Malnick said that makes the honor that much sweeter.

“It’s a small town. It’s an old coal mining town. But we’re very proud because there’s a lot of great things that go on here in Monongah. This is just one more thing Monongah can add!”

West Virginia had two National Blue Ribbon Schools this year. Panther Creek Elementary in Nicholas County also received the honor.