Seven San Luis Obispo County schools from three districts are among 373 statewide that have been recognized as 2015 California Gold Ribbon Schools for achieving tremendous gains in academics and performance standards.
They are Arroyo Grande High School, Judkins Middle School and Paulding Middle School, from the Lucia Mar Unified School District; Daniel E. Lewis and George H. Flamson middle schools from the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District; and Templeton High School and Templeton Middle School from Templeton Unified.
This year, 193 middle schools and 180 high schools were honored. Elementary and secondary schools are recognized on alternating years.
The Gold Ribbon School program has temporarily replaced the California Distinguished Schools Program as California creates new assessment and accountability systems, according to the state Department of Education.
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Both Templeton High School and Templeton Middle School were honored as Distinguished Schools in 2013, the last year awards were given to secondary schools.
“It is truly a privilege to be considered with the other Gold Ribbon Schools, and I am very proud of my school and my staff and what they have accomplished with the nearly
paperless classrooms of the 21st century,” said Kristina Benson, principal of Templeton Middle School.
To be eligible for the award, schools submit applications to the state highlighting their achievements; they are then scored and evaluated.
Judkins Middle School Principal Ian Penton said the Judkins application focused mainly on the work the school has done through the Local Control Accountability Program to improve student achievement by reducing class sizes, adding intervention classes for struggling students and increasing technology use in the classroom.
“It’s definitely nice to have some recognition,” he said. “This is really an acknowledgment of the hard work of the teachers and the students over the last five years as we’ve gone through a pretty progressive school overhaul.”
Paulding Middle School’s application focused on similar LCAP goals, Principal Edward Arrigoni said. A “student-centered approach is the hallmark approach of Paulding and is visible in our small, grade-level learning communities that we call ‘teams.’ We are proud to receive this award and honored to be recognized for our efforts,” he said.
Templeton High School focused its application on the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Academy program that offers students several “pathways” in fields ranging from general science interest to agricultural mechanics, Principal Andrew Cherry said. These students are then given specific courses throughout high school and encouraged to perform senior projects or internships in those fields to help them determine their interests before attending college, he said.
“Most of all, this program gives these students some way to really give high school meaning,” Cherry said. “It’s letting them basically pick a major in high school and go down that path for something they really enjoy.”
Arroyo Grande High School focused on a different aspect of student achievement, Principal
Conan Bowers said — teachers’ professional development.
“Their total commitment to my students’ success while in Lucia Mar makes Arroyo Grande High School a distinguished school,” Bowers said. “We are proud to be a partner with the Five Cities community, and we will always strive to make our community proud.”
Daniel E. Lewis Middle School Principal Stuart Hamill and George H. Flamson Middle School Principal Gene Miller expressed similar appreciation for receiving the honor.
“Part of the Guiding Principles of Paso Robles Joint Unified School District states we are one team with one dream,” they wrote in an email to The Tribune, noting that the award is a
result of the hard work and dedication of their teachers and administrators.
Arroyo Grande High School and Judkins Middle School were also recognized as Academic Achieving Schools. This additional recognition is given to schools that receive federal Title I funds to assist in meeting the educational needs of students living at or below the poverty line.
All of the winning schools will be honored in a regional ceremony in San Francisco on May 29.