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Newhall Schools at Head of Class

Education: District leads county with five of its campuses on state's 'distinguished' list. Only one L.A. school is cited.


Nearly three dozen elementary schools in Los Angeles County have been designated California Distinguished Schools. The Newhall district, with five winners, has the most of any district in the county.

The 247 schools selected throughout the state include 34 in Los Angeles County, 36 in Orange County and eight in Ventura County.

Criteria for the award, which honors elementary and secondary schools in alternate years, include test scores, curriculum, use of technology and parent involvement.

Technology in the Newhall School District has transformed book reports from drab packets of paper to animated PowerPoint presentations, and parents can take classes to learn English and parenting skills.

With five of the district's seven schools designated as Distinguished Schools, Newhall's Supt. Marc Winger was proud and promised to maintain the efforts.

"It doesn't change what we do every day, because it's that which got us the awards in the first place," Winger said.

Only one of Los Angeles Unified's more than 420 elementary schools won the honor this year. That school, 156th Street Elementary in Gardena, emphasizes arts and citizenship in addition to the core curriculum, officials said.

"We're educating students so they can be happy and successful later in life, not just to improve test scores," said school Principal Esther Kim. "We're an inner-city school in an area that's not very affluent, but we try to be balanced in every aspect."

The Distinguished Schools program was established in 1985 to designate schools as models of achievement.

More than 700 schools throughout the state applied for the honor this year.

By district, the 2002 winners in Los Angeles County are:

Alhambra City Elementary: Fremont, Martha Baldwin and Ynez; Castaic Union Elementary: Castaic; Charter Oak Unified: Washington; Claremont Unified: Chaparral and Mountain View; Covina-Valley Unified: Valencia; East Whittier City Elementary: Orchard Dale; El Segundo Unified: Center Street; Glendale Unified: John Marshall, Mark Keppel and Richardson D. White; Hawthorne Elementary: Zela Davis; Las Virgenes Unified: Lupin Hill; Long Beach Unified: Elizabeth Hudson and Mark Twain; Los Angeles Unified: 156th Street Elementary; Newhall Elementary: Meadows, Newhall, Peachland Avenue, Valencia Valley and Wiley Canyon; Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified: Montemalaga; San Gabriel Unified: Coolidge; Saugus Union: Mountainview, Plum Canyon and Rosedell; Sulphur Springs Union Elementary: Mint Canyon Community and Sulphur Springs Community; Torrance Unified: Hickory; West Covina Unified: California, Merced and Vine.

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