La Mesa Junior High School has been nominated by the Flippen Group for a Capturing Kids’ Hearts National Showcase Schools award to honor the school’s efforts in transforming its campus into a place of kindness, caring and connection. “Through the National Showcase Schools awards, Flippen Group seeks to recognize and celebrate schools that go the extra mile each day, building an environment where students and staff feel safe and connected,” Hart District spokesman Dave Caldwell said in a news release. “This is why the group annually honors the unsung heroes who deserve recognition for a job well done.” Four and a half years ago, school administrators began an initiative that would help the school come together and help spread a love for learning, Caldwell said. After researching programs used by many of the nation’s most successful schools, the administrators at La Mesa opted to partner with the Flippen Group to bring Capturing Kids’ HeartsⓇ to its campus. Thanks to the program, Caldwell said, “Teachers and staff have continued to learn the processes needed to connect students with their peers and adults on campus and to create classrooms where students are excited to learn every day. As a result of implementing Capturing Kids’ Hearts, the school has experienced an increase in students feeling connected to school and improved academic achievement.” Since the nomination period is now closed, Flippen Group teams will begin conducting site visits to nominated campuses to gather additional quantitative and qualitative data and interview students, teachers, administrators and parents, Hart District officials said. The group will compile measurements from campus observations, which the selection team will review before selecting the campuses that will receive this year’s Capturing Kids’ Hearts National Showcase Schools awards.