THE CHOSEN FEW: Students, teachers and administrators on Tuesday celebrated the recognition of Parras Middle School in Redondo Beach as a National Blue Ribbon Exemplary School.
More than 100 middle and high schools throughout the state sought the award, given by the U.S. Department of Education, said Principal Kathy Tellez. Only 37 California schools received it--seven of them in Los Angeles County.
Tellez, along with Redondo Beach schools Supt. Beverly Rohrer and eighth-grade teacher Jan Cangro traveled to Washington last month, where they received a plaque and a flag that identifies Parras as "A recognized school of excellence."
Parras was singled out for its innovations, which include a career/business day where students spend a day tagging along with a professional in the field of their interest, a Shakespeare Festival and a 24-hour homework information hot line.
Faculty and parents had a fund-raiser to pay for the hot line, a touch-tone system that plays recorded messages by teachers.
DECATHLON: West High School in Torrance tied for first place in the Super Quiz section of a Los Angeles County Academic Decathlon competition.
West scored 54 out of 60 points during Saturday's quiz competition, one of two main stages in the Academic Decathlon for all county schools except those in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Temple City High School and William S. Hart High School from Santa Clarita scored the same number of points.
In the Super Quiz, which followed a grueling day of written and oral tests, the students answered 30 questions on historical documents ranging from the Magna Carta to the Camp David Accord.
In a separate Academic Decathlon Saturday for Los Angeles Unified schools, Westchester High School shared a three-way tie for second place in Super Quiz competition. Gardena High School placed third, tying with two other schools.
Overall results for both academic decathlons will be announced Tuesday.
MORE COMPUTERS: After reading a Times story about Mira Catalina Elementary School teacher Wayne Kulie's efforts in using computers to lessen classroom tedium, parents in the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School district responded with more support.
"A mother of a primary student delivered an unused IBM computer to my classroom," Kulie said in a letter to the Times. "And a man in Rolling Hills who saw the article called to tell me that he has some Apple IIe equipment he wants to donate."
TAKING ON GANGS: About 160 middle school students in the Torrance Unified School District have completed an eight-week anti-gang course taught by the Torrance Police Department.
The Gang Resistance Education And Training (GREAT) program was introduced to seventh-graders at Calle Mayor Middle School, Hull Middle School and Magruder Middle School last September. The program is modeled after the DARE anti-drug program. The GREAT goal, said Sgt. Dave Smith, is to help students understand the risks of getting involved with gangs.
The eight-week course is taught by Torrance police officers who use techniques including role-playing and discussions to show how conflicts can be resolved without using violence.
The course will be offered again at the same three schools this spring, Smith said. The Police Department hopes eventually to give the course in all six of Torrance Unified's middle schools.
Torrance is one of two cities in California and 100 cities nationwide that is teaching the course, which was developed by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.