33 California schools awarded 2023 National Blue Ribbon honor

Four schools in Hacienda La Puente Unified, with 16,000 students in Los Angeles, received a National Blue Ribbon Award, the most this year from any California school district. The U.S. Department of Education announced the 353 public and private school winners nationwide, including 33 in California, on Tuesday (see pages 2 to 5 for California recipients).

A National Blue Ribbon is the most prestigious national school recognition. It is awarded to the highest performing schools as measured by state and national standardized tests and to schools most successful in closing achievement gaps between a school’s student groups and all students. Nominated schools must describe their school culture and philosophy, curriculum, instructional practices, and parent and community involvement.

The four Hacienda La Puente recipients — about one-eighth of the district’s 31 schools — include two elementary schools, a middle school, and Glen A. Wilson High, one of four high schools in a district that spans City of Industry, La Puente, and the unincorporated Los Angeles County areas of Hacienda Heights and Valinda. It is the second Blue Ribbon award for Wedgeworth Elementary, which has a Mandarin dual language immersion program, and for Los Molinos Elementary, which received the state 2023 Civic Learning Award.

“I am a proud product of HLPUSD and a Wilson High School alumna,” said school board President Christine Salazar. “This recognition represents all the hard work and dedication happening here and across all our schools for years and years to come.”

Garden Grove Unified, an Orange County district that often racks up Blue Ribbon and state Distinguished School awards, and San Francisco Unified each received three National Blue Ribbons. That’s welcome news in San Francisco, which has endured a steep enrollment decline and a successful school board recall election and is facing a massive budget deficit.

Garden Grove Superintendent Gabriela Mafi called the awards “a testament to our commitment to our district goals of the development of academic and personal skills to ensure students’ lifelong success.” Anthony and Paine elementary schools received the Blue Ribbon for the first time and Cook Elementary School is receiving it for the second time. All three serve an average of 65% of students on free and reduced meal status with the majority of students coming from a home where English is not the primary language, Mafi said.

In announcing the winners, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said, “The leaders, educators, and staff at our National Blue Ribbon Schools continually inspire me with their dedication to fostering academic excellence and building positive school cultures that support students of all backgrounds to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.”

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