Los Alamitos and Lee Elementary Schools receive National Blue Ribbon

Two Los Alamitos Unified elementary schools are awarded the nation’s highest honor in education, the National Blue Ribbon. Richard Henry Lee and Los Alamitos Elementary will are among 325 schools from the across the nation, to earn this prestigious level of distinction in 2021.

Now in its 39th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors the work of educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content. The program recognizes schools in one of two performance categories: Exemplary High-Performing Schools are the highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests. Exemplary Achievement Gap-Closing Schools are among the best at closing achievement gaps between student groups.

Since being announced as award nominees in February, both schools have undergone a rigorous, months-long application process to demonstrate how they meet students’ academic, social-emotional, and cultural needs, create a school climate that addresses student diversity, and have adapted to the challenges of education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lee Elementary School has been recognized as an exemplary high-performing school that ranked in the top 10 percent on statewide testing. The Blue Ribbon nomination “is an incredible recognition and a tremendous nod to all we have accomplished,” said Lee Principal Amy Vento. “Our students have high academic success because of everything we as a team do, not just the stellar math and reading lessons.  We create a safe environment for kids to learn, grow, and connect. We give kids the freedom to make and learn from mistakes.  As a result, our students are all in, performing with grit, especially while being challenged.”  

Los Alamitos Elementary School has been recognized as an exemplary achievement gap-closing school for its dramatic success in raising student achievement. Principal Gary Willems said Los Alamitos Elementary has really stepped up its game. 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 third grade. “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 have been selected for both high performance and closing the achievement gap because it shows “national recognition of 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.”

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona commended this year’s honorees for keeping students safe while meeting their academic, social-emotional, and mental health needs. “In the face of unprecedented circumstances, you found creative ways to engage, care for, protect, and teach our children,” Cardona said. “Blue Ribbon Schools have so much to offer and can serve as a model for other schools and communities so that we can truly build back better.” School staff members and Superintendent Pulver will travel to Washington, D.C., in November to receive their honors from Cardona in a special ceremony honoring the 2021 award recipients.

This article was released by the Los Alamitos Unified School District.