By Megan Mann/SCVNEWS.com
The Newhall School District is 10-for-10.
All 10 Newhall School District elementary schools – now including the district’s youngest school, Oak Hills – have achieved California Distinguished School status.
Parents, faculty, district administrators, community leaders and PTA and school board members congratulated students during a Tuesday morning ceremony at Oak Hills School in Valencia.
“There are over 5,700 elementary schools in California,” Superintendent Dr. Marc Winger told the 600-plus students who sat quietly on the floor in the multi-purpose room. “This year only 387 of them were given this award. In the Santa Clarita Valley only six schools got this award. In the Newhall School District, only three schools got this award, and you were one of those three. So that makes you very special. We appreciate all of the work that you did to get here today.”
Each school that received the award in March exemplified innovative education programs that encourage students to learn and help close the achievement gap.
“Our community is so proud of you,” school board President Christy Smith told the students. “We hope you continue this achievement and keep this day in your hearts forever as you go on to achieve great things.”
Following a series of student performances from each grade level, Principal Luis Gamarra invited Winger, Smith, PTA President Christine Price and Oak Hills Founding Principal Wayne Abruzzo to unfurl the 2012 California Distinguished School flag.
“This flag will wave proudly above our school as a symbol of all we have accomplished and what has yet to be realized,” Gamarra said.
This month’s school flag monitors – fourth grader Jordyn McBride, fifth grader Janny Oh and sixth grader Jacquline Finden – hoisted the flag onto its pole in the front of the school.
In honor of their achievement, students enjoyed extended recess and frozen treats provided by the PTA.
A total of six Santa Clarita elementary schools received the California Distinguished School Award in 2012: Rio Vista, Tesoro del Valle and James Foster elementary schools in the Saugus Union School District, and Oak Hills, Stevenson Ranch and Old Orchard elementary schools in the Newhall District.
The California Distinguished Schools Program focuses on California’s students and their entitlement to an equitable and rigorous education. The program identifies and honors schools that have demonstrated educational excellence for all students and progress in narrowing the achievement gap.
To be invited to apply for Distinguished School honors, schools must meet a variety of eligibility criteria including designated accountability measures based on the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the state’s Academic Performance Index requirements.
Once schools are deemed eligible, the California Department of Education invites them to apply to be recognized as a California Distinguished School. The application process consists of a written application, which includes a comprehensive description of two of the school’s signature practices, and a county-led site validation review process, which validates the implementation of those practices.