Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Students at Oak Avenue School, named a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education, create arcade games out of cardboard on a recent afternoon.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan last week named Oak Avenue School in Los Altos one of 219 National Blue Ribbon public schools in the nation.
A total of 269 public and private schools, 24 in California, received the award this year. Oak was one of only three elementary schools in Santa Clara County to earn the distinction.
“This recognition is very exciting for the students, teachers, staff and parents,” said Amy Romem, principal of Oak Avenue School. “Academic success begins at home and is built with a strong primary-grade foundation. We are lucky to be part of a district where every initiative puts students and their learning first.
Romem said the school’s collective achievement comes from student success “measured one-by-one” and made possible through the effort of a team – teachers, parents, students and staff.
The Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private schools that are either high performing or have improved student achievement to high levels. The program is part of a larger Department of Education effort to identify and disseminate knowledge about best school leadership and teaching practices. Each year since 1982, the U.S. Department of Education has recognized schools where students attain and maintain high academic goals.
“We are proud to see national recognition of the success of Oak School. The Oak students are very fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from such an experienced and professional staff,” said Mark Goines, president of the Los Altos School District Board of Trustees. “Neighborhood schools are the backbone of our communities in Los Altos, and the Blue Ribbon Award is truly a testament to the dedication of Oak’s community.”
To be nominated and ultimately qualify for the Blue Ribbon Award, Oak had to maintain excellence on state tests over a sustained period of time. The Academic Performance Index score at Oak has steadily increased over the past 10 years, from 952 in 2002-2003 to 983 this year. Oak regularly ranks among the top-scoring schools in the state.
State Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson nominated Oak for the federal award.
“Oak School is a shining example of excellence in our community, thanks to the tireless efforts of the teachers, students, staff members, parents and the administration,” said Jeff Baier, superintendent of the Los Altos School District. “Just like every LASD school, Oak is focused on the academic, social and emotional needs of each and every student, and (the staff) work diligently to ensure their success. The school culture is one of total commitment, strong parent involvement, collaboration among teachers, high expectations and ultimately success for students.”
Romem and a staff representative were invited to Washington, D.C., to accept the award.
“Our nation has no greater responsibility than helping all children realize their full potential,” Duncan said in a press release announcing the Blue Ribbon schools. “Schools honored with the National Blue Ribbon Schools award are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers. Their work reflects the conviction that every child has promise and that education is the surest pathway to a strong, secure future.”