Over the intercom on Thursday, April 11, Principal Alex Ruvalcaba announced that West Covina High School was one of the 218 public high schools and middle schools that won the award for the prestigious title of California Distinguished School.
“Out of our whole area, only two schools are nominated for the California Distinguished School Award, and I’m so proud we’re one of them,” said Ruvalcaba.
Eligibility for the award was based on API scores, the growth of scores on STAR testing, presentation of two “signature practices,” and a final visit by the board.
The process of applying and preparing for the observation was a long one. From November 6 to December 10, 2012 administration was busy putting together the paperwork for the application. In November, staff meetings were held to discuss the “signature practices” of the school–or the things that make Bulldog country unique.
The first of WCHS’s signature practices is the student-centered approach with academic programs, collaborative teaching models, and CAHSEE intervention courses. The instructional practices with the use of technology, collaborative learning groups, and strategy-differentiation also merit the student-centered approach. And finally, under this signature practice is the culture of the campus including the many student leadership programs, impeccable school spirit, and the amount of Bulldog pride.
“They seemed really impressed by the culture we have here,” said Ruvalcaba.
The second of the signature practices is the school-wide strategies through the use of thinking maps, AVID strategies, student “data talks” reflecting on STAR testing, and content specific vocabulary or “Words of the Week” in each classroom.
On Friday, March 8, a group of observers from the California Distinguished School Award board visited WCHS. The board spilt up and interviewed students and teachers, walked around campus, and sat in on classes.
“They remarked that our school is very different from the norm, in a good way,” said Ruvalcaba.
This is the first time WCHS has received the award since 2005. The logo of the California Distinguished School Award was painted onto the gym then.
“We’re definitely considering adding a second one of the logos onto the gym to mark our great achievement if we do win the award,” said Ruvalcaba before the winners were announced.
The final recipients of the award were determined by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
“These schools have gone the extra mile to provide high-quality instruction that puts their students on the right path toward career and college,” stated Torlakson in a press release. “Given the enormous challenges schools have faced in recent years, it is inspiring to see this kind of success in so many schools. Our future depends on meeting the needs of every student no matter where they come from or where they live.”
This article was originally published by Newsbytes Online.