Medea Creek, Blackstock Named National Blue Ribbon Schools


Two Ventura County schools have received the U. S. Department of Education’s highest national award, school officials said Wednesday.

Medea Creek Middle School in Oak Park and Charles Blackstock Junior High School in Oxnard were notified by the office of U. S. Sen. Barbara Boxer that each had been selected a National Blue Ribbon School for the 1995-96 school year.

“We are ecstatic,” said Robin Freeman, Blackstock’s principal. Freeman told students about the award during a morning video broadcast, which was received with cheers in every classroom.

“I personally thanked all of my teachers,” Freeman said. “This was a school-wide effort. The application was very difficult.”

Schools expected to find out about the award in January, but the announcement was delayed because of the federal government shutdown and the blizzard that hit Washington last month, Freeman said.


To be considered for the award, schools were required to file a 30-page application with the California Department of Education in October 1994. After a screening process, 44 California schools were selected for consideration in the national program. The schools were visited by inspectors from the Department of Education for final evaluation in October.

State officials said 266 schools nationwide received the award, but they declined to say how many of those were in California until an official announcement today.

Blackstock is considered a state model technology school and has received $2.5 million in government grants to install equipment, such as computers, video cameras and CD-ROMs.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Blackstock is one of the best schools in the nation,” said Charles Weis, Ventura County superintendent of schools.

Weis had equal praise for Medea Creek and said the county frequently uses that school’s staff for its teacher-training programs.

At Medea Creek, Principal Laurel Ann Ford handed out blue ribbons to all of the teachers and gave a round of applause to all of the classes.

“There are a lot of wonderful things going on in education,” Ford said. “This is a fabulous award for that. It represents a validation for the tremendous work teachers, students and parents have done.”

The Oak Park middle school, which has its own renowned computer education program, also emphasizes parental involvement in its academic programs.

Ford said she has received excellent feedback about the educational environment that her school provides.

“Every student is challenged with the appropriate education inside and outside the classroom,” she said. “We try to create an environment where kids are motivated and joyful. When you ask our kids, they say, ‘Yes, I had a good day at school. Yes, that’s a good teacher.’ ”

Both schools have been recognized for excellence in the past--each has already been designated a California Distinguished School, the highest award at the state level.

Since the National Blue Ribbon School Program began in 1982, six schools in the county have been recognized.

Most recently, schools in the Hueneme and Oak Park districts were also winners--E. O. Green School in Oxnard and Oak Park High School received the award for 1992-93.

The awards will be officially presented on the White House lawn by Vice President Al Gore later this year, Freeman said.

“We are looking forward to going to Washington to receive the award,” she said.