Imagine a school where there's at least one parent volunteer for every student.
Whether it's keeping the grounds clean, volunteering in the classroom, making potluck dinners or programming computers, the army of parents helping out at Santiago Middle School in Orange is one reason the school Monday was designated a California Distinguished School.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday April 28, 1999 Orange County Edition Metro Part B Page 4 Metro Desk 1 inches; 28 words Type of Material: Correction
School nominee--In Tuesday's edition, a list of National Blue Ribbon Schools award nominees inadvertently omitted Cielo Vista Elementary School in Saddleback Valley Unified School District.
"Our very strong parent involvement is probably the No. 1 factor making us so special," Principal Jennifer Leeman said. At Santiago, all parents agree to volunteer 12 or more hours a year when their children enroll at the charter school.
The state Department of Education honored 94 middle schools and 64 high schools throughout California as distinguished schools. Twelve are in Orange County.
The program singles out schools for overall excellence based on such factors as standardized test scores, parental involvement, safety and cleanliness.
The program, which began in 1985, honors elementary and secondary schools in alternate years.
Of the 12 county schools to win the citation, three are in the Tustin school system--a reflection on the district's foresight in rapidly implementing new state standards for its students, one principal said.
"We went ahead and adopted new state standards and put them in place a year ago," said Adele Heuer, the departing principal at Columbus Tustin Middle School, one of this year's distinguished schools.
With the new standards in place, teachers no longer spend the first few days of the new school year refreshing students on what they learned the year before, she said.
"What we're finding [is] that we don't need to waste time in reviewing but can move right on to the new material," Heuer said.
The commitment to a top-notch learning environment is what brought the honor to Los Alamitos High School, Principal Rebecca Shore said.
The high school has one of the lowest pupil-to-teacher ratios in the county--26.7 to 1--Shore said, and is committed to driving it further down.
Having already reduced the number of students in its English classes, the school this year moved on to math. Shore hired two additional teachers in the middle of the year to further shrink those classes.
State officials also announced Monday that eight Orange County schools have been nominated as 1998-99 National Blue Ribbon Schools, the winners to be announced in June by the federal Department of Education.
Representatives from all California Distinguished Schools and National Blue Ribbon School nominees will be recognized in an awards ceremony May 21.
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County Schools Honored
Twelve Orange County schools are winners in the California Distinguished Schools Program. Eight others have been nominated for national recognition as 1998-99 National Blue Ribbon Schools:
* Brea Olinda High School, Brea Olinda Unified
* Columbus Tustin Middle School, Tustin Unified
* Foothill High School, Tustin Unified
* Hewes Middle School, Tustin Unified
* Isaac L. Sowers Middle School, Huntington Beach City
* Laguna Hills High School, Saddleback Valley Unified
* Los Alamitos High School, Los Alamitos Unified
* Newport Harbor High School, Newport-Mesa Unified
* Santiago Middle School, Orange Unified
* South Lake Middle School, Irvine Unified
* Spring View Middle School, Ocean View
* Troy High School, Fullerton Joint Union
National Blue Ribbon Nominees
* Concordia Elementary School, Capistrano Unified
* Laguna Road Elementary School, Fullerton Elementary
* Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, Newport-Mesa Unified
* Los Alamitos Elementary School, Los Alamitos Unified
* Meadow Park Elementary School, Irvine Unified
* Moulton Elementary School, Capistrano Unified
* Lee Elementary School, Los Alamitos Unified
* Westwood Basics Plus Elementary School, Irvine Unified
Source: California Department of Education