Four local high schools were among the select group statewide to be recognized as 2021 California Distinguished Schools, William S. Hart Union High School District officials announced on Monday.
The California Distinguished School Program is a statewide program that honors California’s “most exemplary and inspiring public schools” based on their performance and progress on state indicators, such as test scores, suspension rates and conditions and climate.
The four local Hart district high schools named this year by California State Superintendent Tony Thurmond included Academy of the Canyons, Golden Valley High School, Hart High School and West Ranch High School.
The four high schools also join three junior high schools in the district — Placerita Junior High School, Rancho Pico Junior High School and Rio Norte Junior School — that were named on March 19 of this year also as 2021 California Distinguished Schools.
“It’s an honor …. It means the state is looking at achievement gaps and overall accomplishment through a broader and wider lens,” said Golden Valley Principal Sal Frias, in reference to his reaction when he found out his school had won the award. “And it speaks volumes for the staff here at Golden Valley and their capacity, their dedication and their awareness of providing a quality education for all students.”
Frias was joined by Hart High Principal Jason d’Autremont, West Ranch Principal Mark Crawford and AOC Principal Juliet Fine in congratulating not only their staff for achieving the incredible feat of being named a distinguished school, but all four also expressed the pride they had in the work put in by their students and school community.
“We just have a tremendous community, and the community is what brings it all together,” said d’Autremont on Monday. “It starts with our parent organization, our students and our staff, not only our teachers but all of our staff, stepping up at our high school. So, it’s just been a great recognition.”
Echoing the sentiments of his principals, Superintendent Mike Kuhlman said the students, staff and families of each school should be “justifiably proud” in receiving the recognition.
“It shows that our district continues to push to close achievement gaps and to provide educational opportunities that can make a difference in the lives of the students we serve,” Kuhlman said.
Elementary schools and middle and high schools are recognized in alternate years; therefore, awardees hold the title for two years, officials said on Monday. The date for the 2021 awards ceremony for schools had not yet been decided upon as of this article’s publication.