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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

2 Schools Get Blue Ribbon Recognition

Education: Redwood and Valley View are among 41 in state to receive national honor.

May 23, 2000|ANNA GORMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Two Ventura County public schools have been named Blue Ribbon award winners, considered one of the most prestigious academic distinctions in the nation.

Redwood Middle School in Thousand Oaks and Valley View Middle School in Simi Valley are among 41 California schools to be recognized as Blue Ribbon winners by the U.S. Department of Education. In Ventura County, just 13 other schools have received the honor in the 18 years since the award program was created.

"We're really excited," said Valley View Principal Jan Britz. "Our teachers have worked so very hard, working toward this title. I know they are going to be deserving of their summer vacation."

Redwood Principal Tim Carpenter also credited his teachers with consistently making the extra effort.

"They are people who really have a vested interest in making Redwood School a great place to be," he said. "They are not only great teachers, they are great middle school teachers."

Schools earning the national designation are chosen by a team from the U.S. Department of Education. The Blue Ribbon honor recognizes schools that foster high academic achievement, involve parents, promote technology and the arts and help struggling students.

To win, schools must receive the California Distinguished School award, complete a 30-page application and undergo a site visit by educators. The National Blue Ribbon School program, started in 1982, recognizes elementary and secondary campuses in alternate years. This year, 266 schools in 37 states will receive the honors. Eight Orange County campuses and six Los Angeles County schools are among the winners.

Though the title does not come with any money, it brings prestige to a school, often attracting corporate sponsors. A neighborhood with a Blue Ribbon school may also see its home values rise.

"It helps to validate that we as educators at this school are on the right track," Britz said. "And it's good to have school pride. It's that sense of knowing that you are the best. That feeling is overcoming our whole school, and it's nice to be a part of it."

Both schools honored this year have plenty of computers, impressive standardized test scores, innovative programs and strong parent involvement. The campuses also have similar demographics: They are located in affluent areas of the county, where most students speak English and many parents have college degrees. Nearly 80% of the students at each school are white.

Both campuses were high scorers on the state's new Academic Performance Index, which rates schools based on their standardized test scores. Redwood got 10 out of 10 points, and Valley View got 9.

Redwood Middle School has dozens of high-speed computers, and its students often do class presentations using computer-aided equipment. Many use the Internet to communicate with young people around the world. The school has an active PTA and a strong program for academically advanced students.

The 965-student campus has 35 teachers; rarely has an instructor transferred to another school.

Valley View is larger, with 1,426 students and 57 teachers. One-third of the students participate in the school's choral and instrumental music program and are often invited to perform at local festivals. The school has 33 clubs and activities on campus, ranging from chess club to a service organization.

Both campuses planned special celebrations to recognize students, parents and teachers. Valley View presented its teachers with blue balloons and blue candies Monday and will hold a special assembly Thursday. Redwood students will dance and eat during a lunch party Friday.

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Ventura County's Blue Ribbon Schools 2000: Redwood Middle School in Thousand Oaks and Valley View Junior High School in Simi Valley

1999: Westlake Hills Elementary School in Westlake Hills and Hollow Hills Fundamental School in Simi Valley

1998: Adolfo Camarillo High School in Camarillo

1997: Meadows Elementary School in Thousand Oaks

1996: Charles Blackstock Junior High School in Oxnard and Medea Creek Middle School in Oak Park

1993: E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard and Oak Park High School in Oak Park

1992: Oak Hills Elementary School in Oak Park

1991: Anacapa Middle School in Ventura

1988: Los Primeros Structured School in Camarillo

1987: Los Altos Intermediate School in Camarillo and Mesa Elementary School in Somis

Source: Ventura County superintendent of schools office

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