A sea of red-clad students — some singing, others reading essays or playing violins – contrasted with a large National Blue Ribbon banner presented to Monte Vista Elementary School by the U.S. Department of Education during a festive and sunny school assembly Friday morning.
The rare and prized honor, presented to Monte Vista for being an “Exemplary High Performing School” was the first for the campus since 2005. Monte Vista was the area’s only Blue Ribbon winner and one of 30 schools in California and 362 nationwide, among public and private institutions, lauded.
“What is  divided by 5,887?” asked Monte Vista principal Suzanne Risse to the crowd of students, teachers, staff, Glendale Unified personnel and elected officials. “Did anyone get that? It’s .5%. That’s the percentage of schools in California that earned National Blue Ribbon honors in 2019.”
She added, “I couldn’t be more proud.”
Risse highlighted the school’s high academic goals, its visual-and-performing arts program, which included a violin orchestra that performed Friday, laptops available for all second- through sixth-graders and a large Korean dual-immersion program.
In terms of testing alone, Monte Vista is the shiny school on the hill for Glendale Unified as its most recent results from the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, or CAASPP, show.
About 83.6% of Monte Vista students met or exceeded state testing standards in English, while that number rose to 85.06% in math. Those results tower over the Glendale Unified district, overall, which posted totals of 64.14% in English and 54.59% in math.
Monte Vista’s extra effort, however, was also evident during the ceremony.
Parent volunteers draped lunch and play-area poles with blue ribbons, hung stars, blue paw prints and bows all over campus and laid blue tablecloths in dining areas.
In addition to the violin orchestra, several students read essays, a Korean Flag class performed a song, while the entire school participated in singing the school’s alma mater song.
“Some things just matter,” Risse said. “It matters to us that our school looks bright, warming and inviting. It matters that we put on our best clothes, in terms of decoration, and a little bling so our guests feel special and welcome.”
On top of the blue ribbon banner and accompanying plaque, the school was presented with an American Flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol by a representative from the office of U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and an accommodation from state Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale).
While teachers, parents and administrators basked in the spotlight, at least one student was also ecstatic with the blue-ribbon accolade.
“It was awesome today, but it was crazy busy really,” said Monte Vista sixth-grader Reese Fontanilla, the student-body president. “I enjoyed the whole community being here and, this being my last year, I’m really going to treasure this.”