Five local elementary schools named California Distinguished Schools

by Linda Hubbard on January 11, 2023

Five public elementary schools in Menlo Park and Atherton along with a Portola Valley school were included on the list of California Distinguished Schools for 2023.

All three Menlo Park City School District elementary schools — Encinal, Laurel, and Oak Knoll — were selected as well as Las Lomitas School in the Las Lomitas School District. Ormondale Elementary in the Portola Valley School District was also selected.

This year marks the return of this recognition program for the first time since Covid-19 temporarily suspended reporting of state and local student data. California Distinguished Schools are recognized for their excellent work in one of two categories: closing the achievement gap and achieving exceptional student performance. Elementary schools and middle and high schools are recognized in alternate years; therefore, awardees hold the title for two years.

A total of 356 schools statewide were named Distinguished Schools as announced by Secretary of State Superintendent Tony Thurmond on January 6.

According to the CDE press release, “The exceptional elementary schools recognized this year are illustrative of the hard work, dedication, and resilience shown by educators and schools across the state after communities struggled for multiple years with urgent effects to physical and mental health and unprecedented challenges to delivering education.”

MPCSD Superintendent Kristen Gracia, who began her tenure in this role on January 1, commended the entire district for its focus on teaching and learning that enabled the district’s schools to earn this designation. “I am so proud of the work our educators are doing, despite the many upheavals of the past few years. By focusing on progress over perfection, we are meeting students where they are and fostering their growth, both academically and socially. It is always rewarding to have the important work of our schools acknowledged like this, and I am thankful to our teachers and staff for remaining so dedicated to our students’ success.”

InMenlo file photo (c) 2023

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