Andersen students, faculty celebrate district's top API score

NEWPORT BEACH — Andersen Elementary School's cheer rang true Friday morning.

"Red, white and blue. It's learning that we do. Red, white and blue. Hooray, hooray for you!" sang students wearing patriotic-colored clothing and beaded necklaces.

The teachers also joined in, some with sparkly red and blue star antennae headbands and clutching blue and white pompoms.

Parents, students and teachers gathered on the blacktop for the new school year's first flag deck — a kind of informal assembly before school — to celebrate the school's 16-point gain on the 2011 Academic Performance Index (API), which boosted the Newport Beach elementary school at 1900 Seabourne Way to the highest-scoring school in the school district.

"We're just very excited," Principal Laura Vlasic said. "I am so proud of the students, staff and the parents. It really takes a team approach. Everybody collectively came together — and our focus is on learning — and it really showed."

Andersen scored 950 out of a possible 1,000 this year — a gain over last year's 934. They took the top spot from last year's title holder, Harbor View Elementary School in Newport Beach, whose score dropped from 950 to 936.

Fourth-grade student Jamey Phillips, 9, said it was "actually really cool" to have the highest score in the district.

When asked if she remembered anything that helped her do her best on the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) testing program, she remembered a trick her teacher used.

"We had these pencils. They were rainbow. Our teacher called them magic," she said. "They were magic to keep us working."

Parent Stacie Daniel attributed part of the success to six extra support staff members funded by the campus' dads group, the DEANs, last year.

The program was flexible enough to accommodate kids' changing needs, added PTA President Kirstin Watson.

Vlasic said the extra support will continue this year.

At the assembly, Vlasic said she wanted to celebrate the students' success with them.

"Our focus is on being a shining star and trying our best and putting learning first and behavior, but I think what I would like them to take away from it, is to continue to be that shining star," Vlasic said. "That's our motto: We're hitting the ground learning as we reach for the stars."

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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