The U.S. Department of Education has awarded six Orange County public schools 2019 Blue Ribbons, the nation’s top honor for individual campuses based on academic achievement.
The recipients are Acacia Elementary and Fisler School in the Fullerton School District, Circle View Elementary in the Ocean View School District, El Morro Elementary in the Laguna Beach Unified School District, Oxford Academy in the Anaheim Union High School District, and Stonegate Elementary in the Irvine Unified.
The coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools award affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content, federal education leaders said.
Now in its 37th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools program has bestowed recognition on more than 9,000 schools. On Nov. 14-15, the Department of Education will celebrate with 312 public and 50 non-public school honorees at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.
Schools win recognition in one of two performance categories:
Exemplary High Performing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.
Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s student groups and all students.
Here is a short summary for each of the six OC schools from their awards applications and some reactions from school and district leaders.
FULLERTON SCHOOL DISTRICT
Acacia Elementary Growing in ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic diversity, Acacia serves as a distinguished Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) site for the district. Roughly half of our students transfer to Acacia. Within our surrounding areas, we have a wide range of parent professions represented with varying socio-economic levels. Fullerton is known as having a “big, small town feel.” We observe this daily when parents pick up a carload of neighborhood children and alumni return to share their success in college and beyond.
Elizabeth Leon, Principal at Acacia Elementary: “I am overwhelmed with joy to share that Acacia Elementary School has been designated an Exemplary High Performing Schools National Blue Ribbon School for 2019. This national recognition is a result of the collective efforts of our families, staff, and students! It is a testament to the hard work, commitment, and relentless dedication we put forth every day on behalf of children.”
Fisler School Beyond state mandated requirements, Fisler School offers a wide range of unique educational opportunities, including a Computer Science Pathways program. Fisler School continues to grow academically and socio-emotionally due to exemplary academic, extracurricular and behavioral support services. With highly qualified and well-trained teachers, students are prepared for high school, college and future entry into the workplace. Student achievement continues to rise as resources are harnessed to provide individualized and engaging instruction.
Julienne Lee, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services: “It is a great honor for a school to receive the National Blue Ribbon designation, but for Fullerton School District to have two schools receiving this recognition speaks volumes about the commitment of those schools, but also about the district overall and support given on all levels.”
OCEAN VIEW SCHOOL DISTRICT
Circle View Elementary Our school’s mission is realized as students enter each morning, ready to embark on exciting learning experiences in stimulating environments that dedicated, professional staff have prepared for them. Entering the classrooms, you will be struck by the involved “buzz” of busy students and teachers engaged in the day’s learning activities. You will notice that each classroom is warm and encouraging with a clear student centered focus. Student work is showcased on bulletin boards and reflects Common Core Standards in all subject areas.
Carol Hansen, Superintendent: “I am thrilled to celebrate Circle View as a National Blue Ribbon School. This honor is a testament to our teachers’ expertise in challenging students and the great partnership that exists between our families, students, and the school staff.”
Jessica Haag, Circle View Elementary Principal: “I am so proud of the positive school culture that we have here at Circle View. All staff members are committed to helping our students learn, grow, and achieve academically, socially, and emotionally.”
LAGUNA BEACH UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
El Morro Elementary Although providing a rigorous curriculum where student learning thrives is our top priority, we also believe it is equally important to educate the whole child. We strive to create an outstanding social emotional environment for students to develop and grow through our Positive Behavior Intervention and Support program (PBIS), Second Step Social Learning curriculum, and by using a positive growth mindset. Our PBIS program explicitly teaches the students our schoolwide expectations and positively reinforces the students for following the school rules.
Chris Duddy, El Morro Elementary School Principal: “We are excited and honored to be recognized as an Exemplary High Performing National Blue Ribbon School. It validates the hard work and care that the El Morro staff provides for our students. There is a lot of hard work done on behalf of our students each and every day. This recognition confirms that we are doing the right things.”
ANAHEIM UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT
Oxford Academy Dedicated and hardworking students, parents, community leaders and school personnel contribute to the success of Oxford Academy. An environment has been created that fosters success and cooperation within Oxford’s diverse community. Oxford Academy has many partnerships in the local community which help Oxford offer opportunities for growth, educational experiences and extracurricular activities.
IRVINE UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
Stonegate Elementary Stonegate Elementary is a school focused on the success of the whole child. We strive to maintain a happy, healthy family community and foster an empathetic and safe school environment that honors all perspectives. Teachers, parents and students work as a team to foster innovation, character development, and academic curriculum. Our vision is to develop 21st-century learners who embrace academic rigor, demonstrate critical thinking and feel empowered to take intellectual risks, as well as accept social and global responsibility.
Terry Walker, Superintendent: “I couldn’t be more proud of our Stonegate students, teachers, staff and administrators, who are being recognized as national examples for excellence. This prestigious recognition illustrates the tremendous work we do here in IUSD to prepare our students for 21st-century colleges and careers.”