Los Alamitos Elementary has been nominated for a 2021 National Blue Ribbon School award for its dramatic
success in raising student achievement.
The campus joins Lee Elementary as the second in the Los Alamitos Unified School District to be put forward
by State Superintendent of Education Tony Thurmond this year for the national honor — generally considered
the highest a school can earn. Lee was nominated as an exemplary high-performing school. Only 35 schools
across the state are nominated this year for the designation.
Now in its 38th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program in the US Department of Education,
recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools based on either their overall academic
excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.
Principal Gary Willems said Los Alamitos Elementary has really stepped up its game. “Four years ago we were
ranked 128th in English Language Arts and 89th in Math among public schools in Orange County. Today, we
are 39th in English and 32nd in Math. These huge gains are a testament to our stellar students, staff and
As an example of the school’s across-the-board effort to raise achievement, Willems cited a reading
intervention lab that typically reaches 300 students a year, boosting 90% of them to proficiency by the end of
“We are excited to be recognized for giving all of our Tigers every opportunity to achieve and excel
academically,” Willems said.
Superintendent Dr. Andrew Pulver said he is especially proud that two District schools were nominated for both
high performance and closing the achievement gap because it shows the federal government “recognizes the
excellence that we experience every day in our schools as our teachers and staff strive to meet the needs of all
of our students.”
Along with Lee, Los Alamitos Elementary now must undergo a rigorous, months-long process to demonstrate
how the school meets students’ academic, emotional, social, and cultural needs, creates a school climate that
addresses student diversity, and adapts to the challenges of education during the COVID-19 pandemic. Final
award recipients will be announced later in the year.