Students from Lindero Canyon Middle School in Agoura Hills are back in class today, still excited after a celebration last month honoring their status as a National Blue Ribbon School.
The recognition means the school is one of the best middle schools in the country, based on academic achievement, parental involvement, assistance to under-performing students, and technology and arts curricula.
The celebration brought together the school's 1,300 students along with alumni, teachers, administrators, parents and community members.
"It was fantastic! It was extraordinary," Principal Ronald Kaiser said.
Lindero Canyon was selected as a 2000 Blue Ribbon School in May by the U.S. Department of Education, but school officials waited until the last day of school before winter break to celebrate.
The school's jazz band performed and former Lindero Canyon students dressed as Latin pop star Ricky Martin, Mozart and Einstein to add comic relief to the 1 1/2-hour presentation. Parents, teachers, staff members, supporting businesses and government officials from Agoura Hills and Westlake Village were recognized.
"The intent was to say, 'It does take a village for a school to obtain Blue Ribbon Status,' " Kaiser said.
"This is awesome," said Student Council President Tiffany Hsiou, 13, an eighth-grader. "I am honored to be part of this."
Tiffany said the teachers make the school special.
"They get to know every single one of us," she said. "Whenever we need help, they give us individual attention."
Rachel Kane, student body secretary and an eighth-grader, pointed to a list of accomplishments during her three years at the school, such as strong showings on standardized tests, good music and theater programs, and improved school spirit.
"We've accomplished so many things at this school," Rachel said. "This gives us a chance to show it off."
Even "President and Mrs. Clinton" were on hand for the festivities--sort of.
Last September, when Kaiser and two Lindero Canyon Middle School teachers went to Washington, D.C., to accept the award, they were disappointed that neither President Clinton nor Vice President Al Gore were on hand to make the presentation.
So a retired Lindero administrator and the current assistant superintendent of Las Virgenes Unified School District donned masks of the first couple and presented Kaiser a plaque and a bouquet of roses--the presentation is usually held in the White House Rose Garden. The jazz band even played "Hail to the Chief" when "the Clintons" made their way to the stage.
"It was a total surprise to me," Kaiser said of the tribute that recognized his 11 years with the school.
The National Blue Ribbon School program began in 1982.
For the 2000 awards, 266 schools in 37 states were recognized. Six schools in Los Angeles County made the list, including La Crescenta's Crescenta Valley High School.
Local schools must first be selected as a California Distinguished School before being considered for the national recognition, which includes an extensive application process and a campus visit.
"It's a source of pride and validation," Kaiser said. "We are on track and we have been recognized."
SAT Prep: The Princeton Review is offering a free SAT and college admissions seminar for high school students and their parents Jan. 16 from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at Borders Books and Music, 14681 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. Techniques and strategies to improve test scores will be covered.
Teen Drivers: "Is Your Teen Road-Ready?" will be discussed Tuesday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Agoura High School, Building G.
An assortment of topics on teenage drinking and driving will be covered, including a presentation by Debbie Grace, mother of an Agoura High School student and representative of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), who will speak on "How Well Do You Know Your Teenager?"
Seating is limited. For reservations, call (818) 889-1262, Ext. 1029 during school hours.
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