3 Capistrano Unified Schools Named Blue Ribbon Winners

George White Elementary School fifth-grader Taylor LaBarre summed up what makes a National Blue Ribbon school.

“We have great teachers,” LaBarre, 10, told a crowd of teachers, administrators, parents and students who gathered Monday for a ceremony at the school. “They know every answer to every question asked, always have smiles on their faces and have an enormous sense of enthusiasm.”

LaBarre’s school is one of three in the Capistrano Unified School District to be honored this year by the U. S. Department of Education.

On Monday, the Laguna Niguel elementary and Barcelona Hills and Philip J. Reilly elementary schools in Mission Viejo held celebrations and raised the blue-ribbon flag.

Capistrano Unified is the only district in Orange County--and one of only 11 nationwide--to have more than one school meet the requirements.


Superintendent James A. Fleming said 226 public and 36 private elementary schools nationwide were designated as blue-ribbon schools last month.

To be considered, local schools must first qualify as a California Distinguished School, then meet other requirements, including strong academic standards and leadership.

Other Orange County schools selected were: Vista Verde Elementary in Irvine, Rossmoor Elementary in Rossmoor, Orangethorpe Elementary in Fullerton, and the private Hebrew Academy in Westminster.

Shelia Henness, president of the Capistrano Council of 37 Parent Teacher Assns., said the schools are also special because of parents who read to children, arrange field trips and help with art projects and the music program.

“There are hundreds of parents involved daily,” she said. “It’s hard to walk through any classroom and not find parents there helping.”