One Orange County school has won a 2017 National Blue Ribbon, the top prize for schools in the country based on students’ academic performance.
Jack L. Weaver Elementary in the Los Alamitos Unified School District was among 342 schools in the nation awarded a Blue Ribbon on Thursday by the U.S. Department of Education. The Los Alamitos campus was the only one in Orange County chosen for the prize, along with two dozen others selected from California.
The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools, which are chosen one of two ways. They’re either selected as Exemplary High Performing Schools for ranking among their state’s highest overall performing schools on state tests, or as Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools, given to schools with high concentrations of low-income students that had strong academic growth over the past five years.
“Our award is for closing the achievement gap,” said Weaver Principal Robert Briggerman. “We take extra pride in that accomplishment.”
The principal said the school has been working hard over recent years to offer each student unique instruction that best serves the student’s needs. Students who are falling behind receive extra tutoring, more one-on-one support and other help to allow them to catch up with their peers.
Weaver will have a big Blue Ribbon celebration in October at the campus, with parents, community members and city and other leaders.
“I especially want to thank our staff and parent community who allow us to do the tremendous work each day to help all children succeed,” he said.
At Weaver Elementary, a k-5 school with about 690 students, 94 percent of students tested proficient or advanced in English language arts, and 95 percent of students reached the same targets in math in the latest state exams, according to scores released earlier this week.
Three O.C. schools won Blue Ribbons last year, A.J. Cook Elementary School in Garden Grove Unified, Francis Hopkinson Elementary in Los Alamitos Unified, and Tustin Memorial Academy in Tustin Unified.
In California, schools that received a California Distinguished School Award, the state’s top prize for individual campuses, are eligible to apply for the federal prize.
Now in its 35th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has recognized more than 8,500 schools. The prize is often described as the Oscar for schools. Real estate agents often tout Blue Ribbon schools in neighborhoods to help sell homes and increase prices.
On Nov. 6 and 8, the U.S. Department of Education will celebrate with these winners at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.