Their blue paper chain didn't quite make it all the way around the school like students and teachers at Dwight School had hoped Wednesday morning, but while that project wasn't a total success, it didn't really matter.

What did matter was what the chain itself was celebrating -- the school's selection as a National Blue Ribbon School for 2012.

Dwight was one of four Connecticut schools to receive the honor, which was announced in September and cited the Redding Road elementary school as an "Exemplary High Performing" school. Dwight was one of 218 public schools and 50 private schools from around the nation honored in November at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Brenda Anziano, the school's former principal, returned Wednesday to join in the ceremony that started in the all-purpose room with dancing by the Dwight Dragon and ended with the blue paper chain strung through the hallways.

"I got to go to Washington to receive the award," Anziano said of the national Blue Ribbon School ceremony last month. "We're one school system and we're so lucky to have won the Blue Ribbon Award."

Anziano was principal at Dwight from 2004 until last spring; she is now principal at Riverfield School.

Every Dwight student, she said, should take great pride in the accomplishment. The biggest contributing factor to the school's selection by the federal Department of Education for the award, Anziano said, was probably the collaborative effort that takes place between students, faculty and parents.

"I'm humbled by the award," she said, choking back tears. "I loved being your principal. I will cherish my memories forever."

In keeping with the Blue Ribbon Award, the day was all about "blue" -- kindergartners sang "The Blue Song," students passed out blue carnations to all school staff, and the fifth-grade chorus sang "Blue Skies."

The mood, though, was anything but blue, and Principal Scott Bannon promised students they would definitely be having a fun day.

"I'm very proud to be the superintendent of schools here in Fairfield," David Title told the students, "and Dwight School really exemplifies everything that is really great about Fairfield public schools."

But they shouldn't settle now that they've gotten the Blue Ribbon Award, Title said. "It's time to move to the next level."

First Selectman Michael Tetreau said the award shows that it's not "what one student can do, it's not what one class can do -- it took the entire school."

"Now, here's your challenge," he said. "You have to keep it up."

To select National Blue Ribbon schools, the federal Department of Education solicits nominations from the top education official in each state. Nominated schools are then invited to submit an application prepared jointly by staff and parents.; 203-556-2771;