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.
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
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
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
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.