For the second time in its history, West Hollywood Elementary School has been recognized as a California Distinguished School by the California Department of Education.
However, this time around, the school was also honored for having an exemplary program in arts education, thanks to a host of “wonderful programs” that have been implemented at the school in recent years, principal Angela Marcano said.
“We’re all very excited,” she said of the designation.
According to the department of education, the awards program focuses on students’ “right to an equitable and rigorous education” and recognizes schools that have narrowed the academic achievement gap.
To apply, schools must meet eligibility criteria, which include accountability measures. Administrators must file a written application, and a county-led site validation review process follows.
Marcano, who took over for former principal Julia Charles in November, said the school was invited to apply in December. State schools chief Tom Torlakson announced the 424 winners at the end of April. Twenty-two Los Angeles Unified School Districts made the list.
“I applaud these strong, thriving schools that are making such impressive strides in preparing their students for continued success,” Torlakson said in a press release. “This award is well-deserved by these school communities for their enduring dedication to high standards, hard work and unwavering support.”
West Hollywood Elementary won its first California Distinguished School award three years ago, then under the direction of Charles. Marcano credited Charles, as well as the Friends of West Hollywood Elementary, for making the two designations possible.
“We have wonderful support from our parent groups that allows us to implement the arts,” she said.
The award will allow the school to continue flying its California Distinguished School flag for the next three years and advertise itself as such. Marcano said parents take notice of the recognition when determining where to enroll their children each fall.
“The Distinguished School title always helps,” she added.
The exemplary arts program honor will result in West Hollywood Elementary becoming a model school for other facilities that are looking to incorporate the arts in their classrooms.
“We’re really honored to go above and beyond receiving the California Distinguished School title,” Marcano said.
To be eligible, the school was required to file another application, and a team from the state visited the campus to get a first-hand look at its art programs, which encompass visual arts, music, performing arts and ballroom dancing, she said.
Marcano said the school also demonstrated how it integrates technology into the arts. That integration was a key component of the designation; in fact, the application included a quote from a parent who said, “Technology is in our DNA.”
“And it’s true. You can see it as you walk through the campus,” Marcano added.
The principal said another component of the school’s art curriculum is its STAR Education program, which provides afterschool enrichment through music, filmmaking, ceramics and other visual arts.
“With that program, we’re able to extend the school day, and students can participate in the arts even after school,” Marcano said.
She said the effort to infuse art into the education at West Hollywood Elementary School started with Charles, and the new principal has no intentions of letting up on that mission.
“She’s created a wonderful school, and I plan to carry that tradition,” Marcano said, adding that the school will soon be implementing the Common Core standards, offering a new standards-based test and furthering its technological enrichment. “That’s going to be our focus.”
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