Harvest Park and Pleasanton middle schools are among the honorees named as 2021 California Distinguished Schools, a statewide distinction bestowed upon public schools for excellence in academic performance and closing achievement gaps.
In a statement, Pleasanton Middle principal Joe Nguyen called the California Distinguished School honor, "the ultimate honor for schools.”
“I'm happy to see our students, staff, and community receive affirmation of all the work and results that make Pleasanton Middle School a great place to learn and grow,” Nguyen said.
Honorees hold the distinction for two consecutive years, which is based on superior instruction and learning, "as well as data-driven school efforts such as professional development and positive behavior intervention," according to the California Department of Education (CDOE), which announced the winners last month.
"Amid the backdrop of uncertainty and hardship facing all California schools this past year, this recognition is especially remarkable," CDOE officials said in a statement.
Both Harvest Park and Pleasanton middle schools have received the Distinguished Schools recognition a total of five times, but haven't been awarded together in the same year since 2005. Harvest Park was most recently named in 2013, and Pleasanton Middle in 2009.
Eligible schools are identified and awarded based on performance and progress indicators on the California School Dashboard, including test scores, suspension rates and conditions and climate. Elementary schools are recognized during alternate years from middle and high schools; Mohr Elementary was recognized last year.
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond said the honorees "are great examples of California’s commitment to provide outstanding public education for all students, and their data-driven efforts have helped ensure that their students leave with the tools and skills they need to be successful after graduation.”
“Our thanks go to the entire communities surrounding these schools, including the teachers, administrators, and classified employees as well as the students and their families who, through teamwork, all accomplished this impressive achievement together,” Thurmond said.
Principal Terry Brenner, who is retiring from Harvest Park at the end of June, said the campus community is "thrilled to share this recognition with every member of our Harvest Park community."
"This distinction is a testament to the strength and resilience of our staff, students and families," Brenner said.
The 2021 California Distinguished Schools virtual award ceremony will be hosted at a later date, yet to be announced.