Countywide : State to Recognize 21 Public Schools

Twenty-one Orange County public schools that work hard to help their students succeed will be honored this week by the state Department of Education.

The Distinguished Schools Program will honor the schools Friday in a ceremony in the city of Santa Clara, said William D. Dawson, acting state superintendent of public instruction. They are among 180 secondary schools chosen from the more than 350 schools throughout the state that applied for the award.

The schools were selected after a review of their programs and a visit to each school, said Carol Kennedy, a state coordinator of the program.

Four schools in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District were chosen--the largest number from any county school district. Three schools each were chosen from the Santa Ana Unified and Saddleback Valley Unified school districts. The rest of the schools were from other districts.

Student test scores were considered during the selection process, but schools also had to demonstrate good teaching methods and curriculum, Kennedy said. The schools also won points for parent involvement and partnerships with business and industry.

The quality of vocational instruction and programs to keep students from dropping out of school were also considered, Kennedy said.

Kennedy said state education officials believe in evaluating schools on more than just academic performance. "A school can do real well on paper and still not be looking after the needs of all its kids," she said.

Each school that applied for the award was also evaluated during a visit by an educator from another district or county, Kennedy said, in order to verify the information given in the application.

The winning schools were Ball Junior High, Capistrano Valley High, La Habra High, Sonora High, Sunny Hills High, Troy High, Huntington Beach High, Venado Middle, Imperial Middle, Los Alamitos High, Cerro Villa Middle, Santiago Middle and Bernardo Yorba Middle.

Other winning schools were El Toro High, Los Alisos Intermediate, Mission Viejo High, Carr Intermediate, Century High, Sierra Intermediate, A.G. Currie Middle and Foothill High.

Four county elementary schools were also selected as nominees for the federal National Blue Ribbon Schools Program to recognize good elementary schools. The grade schools are Barcelona Hills, Fred L. Newhart Jr., Laguna Road and Bryant Ranch.

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