O.A. Peters Elementary was one of five schools honored this month by the Orange County Human Relations Commission at its third annual Building Bridges Awards. The schools were recognized for their commitment to fostering cultural harmony and promoting ethnic understanding in the community.
Principal Gary Lewis, Administrative Assistant Edie Smith and five members of the Student Council received a $500 cash grant and two plaques on behalf of the school at a recent awards ceremony at Disneyland.
Peters has developed programs to promote community involvement and parent interaction, such as the Parent Institute for Quality Education. The eight-week program, delivered in English, Spanish and Vietnamese, has graduated more than 400 parents since its inception, with teachers volunteering to provide child care while the parents attended weekly sessions.
Parents learn how the school and school system work, develop ways to improve communication with administrators, teachers and their children, and review strategies to motivate their children to learn.
Peters also was recognized for issuing school library cards to parents, diversifying its administrative and teaching staff, establishing a Literacy Week focusing on the importance of reading and writing skills, and expanding the school library to include a cultural diversity section.
In addition to the parent-support program, the school created a Language Arts Portfolio program to ensure that all students maintain the same high expectations in reading, writing and language.
This year, Peters received a ranking of 10, the highest possible, on the statewide Academic Performance Index for schools with similar characteristics.
The other schools honored by the Human Relations Commission were Kraemer Middle School in Placentia, Marco Foster Middle School in San Juan Capistrano, Nicolas Junior High School in Fullerton and Mission Viejo High School.
Chris Ceballos can be reached at (714) 966-7440.