Three Hart district junior highs named as Distinguished Schools

The William S. Hart Union High School District office
The William S. Hart Union High School District office

Three junior high schools within the William S. Hart Union High School District were named 2021 California Distinguished Schools by the state’s Superintendent Tony Thurmond. 

Placerita, Rancho Pico and Rio Norte junior high schools were given the achievement, which acknowledges a school’s work in closing the achievement gap and achieving exceptional student performance, according to the California Department of Education. 

“We’re all super excited and proud of this accomplishment,” said Catherine Nicholas, principal of Rancho Pico. “The commitment of the staff, families and students made this possible and we’ll continue to work toward closing achievement gaps.” 

This is the fourth time Rancho Pico was named a distinguished school, with Placerita receiving it once before and it being the first time Rio Norte received the award. 

“It’s a great honor and a privilege to be recognized for the first time,” said Audrey Asplund, principal at Rio Norte. “We’ll continue to work with students to build on their strengths and create a positive learning environment.” 

Schools are named distinguished schools based on performance and progress on the state’s indicators on the California School Dashboard. Indicators that factor into the dashboard include test scores and suspension rates. 

“This was absolutely an incredible accomplishment by all of our staff,” said John Turner, principal at Placerita Junior High. “We’ve seen such growth from the students. All the accomplishments take place in the classroom. Everyone from students to staff really go above and beyond.” 

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