Two South Bay public schools have won the U.S. Department of Education's prestigious Blue Ribbon Award for excellence in education.

Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach and Calle Mayor Middle School in Torrance were among 266 secondary, junior high and middle schools nationwide to receive the 1996 award, according to the Department of Education.

After receiving nominations from the California Department of Education, both schools were evaluated on everything from parental involvement to the quality of classroom teaching environments to graduation rates. Much of the evaluation was done during on-site visits by nationally recognized educators.

"It's the most prestigious award an individual school can receive," said a proud Mira Costa Principal John Giovati, adding that the visiting evaluator gave the school especially high marks for a friendly atmosphere and a high level of parent interest.

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