Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Sciences, or MATES, in Stafford Township, has been named a national Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.

The academy, which is part of the Ocean County Vocational School District, is one of 17 schools in the state, including six vocational high schools, to earn the honor this year. Schools apply for the designation and are nominated by their state Department of Education for the award.

MATES has about 200 students in grades nine to 12. Students apply to attend the program, which focuses on math and science, and are given the opportunity to do internships and projects in their field of interest. MATES’ Envirothon Team earned first overall in the New Jersey Envirothon two years in a row in the competition that tests students’ knowledge of soils and land use, aquatic ecology, forestry, wildlife and environmental issues.

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In 2010-11, all students who took the state high school test passed, with 82 percent reaching the advanced level in language arts and 96 percent achieving the advanced level in math, state Department of Education data show.

School officials did not return calls Friday requesting comment on the award.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Friday named 269 schools as 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools. The award is based on overall academic excellence, or for making progress in improving student academic achievement levels.

A recognition ceremony for the 219 public and 50 private schools will be held Nov. 12 and 13 in Washington, D.C.

“Schools honored with the National Blue Ribbon Schools award are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers.” Duncan said in a press release announcing the honorees.

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