GASTONIA, N.C. -- The U.S. Department of Education designated Gaston County's Highland School of Technology as a national "Blue Ribbon School" this month.

It's considered one of the highest and most prestigious honors a school can receive. The school received an A+ performance grade from the state and graduated every single one of its students last year.

Board of Education member Lee Dedmon, who was the school's first-ever principal, congratulated during a school-wide assembly.

"I continue to support you and beam with pride as you continue to seize excellence," Dedmon said, "You are simply the best."