POUND, Va. (WJHL) — James W. Adams Combined School is one of just 10 Virginia schools to receive the U.S. Department of Education’s Blue Ribbon School award, according to a Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) news release.

The annual awards were announced on Tuesday. J.W. Adams, which serves 467 children in grades pre-K through eighth, was one of four “Exemplary High-Performing Schools” recognized in the state.

J.W. Adams had to post state assessment scores in math and reading that were among the top 15% statewide. The 41-year-old Blue Ribbon program “shines a spotlight on the best schools in the United States with the intent of sharing the best practices of outstanding schools across the country,” the release said.

Fran Balthis is the second-year principal at J.W. Adams and Chris Wilson is the assistant principal. Balthis said the school takes pride in the fact that all its students are held to a high level of expectation despite living in a community that faces some challenges.

“When going through the nomination process, we focused on the students achieving despite our low socioeconomic status and having a disproportionately high number of students with disabilities,” Balthis said in an email to News Channel 11.

“Against all odds, they are able to defy the stereotype of our Appalachian region,” she said, adding that because the school staff has “built a positive school culture that focuses on relationships, we are able to maximize every student’s potential.”

“I want to congratulate each of these seven schools from across the Commonwealth on achieving national recognition amongst the highest performing schools in the country,” VDOE Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Coons said.

Coons said this award is an example of what can happen when all facets of a school, including teachers, administration, parents and students, work together.