29 Orange County schools awarded Gold Ribbons

Twenty-nine Orange County middle and high schools were named Tuesday as 2017 California Gold Ribbon Schools, the state’s top honor for individual campuses.

The state Department of Education created the award to honor schools in place of the California Distinguished Schools Program, which is on hiatus while California creates new assessment, accountability and continuous improvement systems. The award rotates each year between elementary and secondary schools.

California golden ribbon award, samueli, charter

Samueli Academy, a public charter school in Santa Ana authorized by the Orange County Department of Education, is one of 275 middle and high schools from California to earn Gold Ribbon honors for 2017.

Statewide, 477 campuses applied for the award, and 275 were selected. Local recipients include Samueli Academy, a public charter school in Santa Ana focusing on foster youth and students from low-income families. The campus opened four years ago after it was given a charter by the Orange County Department of Education.

“We have put our blood, sweat and tears into this school, and to see it culminate in an award like this — at the same time our first group of seniors is being accepted to colleges all over the country — it feels great,” said Head of School Anthony Saba. “You’re reflecting and you’re tired, but you’re tired for the right reasons. It’s a great feeling.”

The state selected the winners based on their academic gains in math and English language arts, and in the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards.

These schools represent examples of not just excellent teaching, learning and collaborating, but also highly successful school climate efforts, ranging from conflict resolution to positive behavior intervention, state officials said.

Saba said Samueli Academy’s application highlighted school culture, the use of technology and project-based learning.

Gold Ribbon awardees that are also Title I schools — those that receive federal funding for having high concentrations of low-income students — were also recognized as Academic Achieving Schools.

“These terrific schools are leading the way in embracing our new rigorous academic standards and showing others how to help students succeed on their way to 21st-century careers and college,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in a news release.

“I look forward to travelling the state to honor these schools and to help share the programs, methods, and techniques that are working.”

Here’s the list of Orange County winners:

Anaheim Union High School District

Cypress High School
John F. Kennedy High School
Lexington Junior High School
Oxford Academy
Western High School*

Brea Olinda Unified School District

Brea Junior High School
Brea Olinda High School

Capistrano Unified School District

Ladera Ranch Middle School

Fullerton School District

Russell Parks Junior High School

Fullerton Joint Union High School District

Troy High School

Garden Grove Unified School District

Alamitos Intermediate*
Dr. Walter C. Ralston Intermediate School*
Hilton D. Bell Intermediate

Huntington Beach Union High School District

Westminster High School*

Irvine Unified School District

Irvine High School
Sierra Vista Middle School

Laguna Beach Unified School District

Laguna Beach High School

Newport Mesa Unified School District

Charles TeWinkle Middle School*

Orange County Department of Education

Samueli Academy*

Orange Unified School District

Villa Park High School

Placentia Yorba Linda School District

Colonel J.K. Tuffree Middle School
Yorba Linda Middle School

Saddleback Valley Unified School District

La Paz Intermediate School

Santa Ana Unified School District

Douglas MacArthur Fundamental Intermediate*
Middle College High School*
Orange County School of the Arts*

Westminster School District

Helen Stacey Middle School*
Johnson Middle School*
Warner Middle School*

* These schools received an additional award for being a Title I Academic Achieving School.