February 15, 2017
By Haley Munguia
These 6 local ‘model middle schools’ were honored by the California League of Schools
DIAMOND BAR >> Students gathered on the Cougar Quad at Chaparral Middle School on Wednesday to celebrate a new honor the California League of Schools bestowed upon the school. Walnut Valley Unified’s Chaparral, along with five other local schools, were named “model middle schools” by the state’s Schools to Watch—Taking Center Stage program. A total of 20 schools throughout the state received the title.
The program is part of a U.S. Education Department initiative to identify high-performing middle schools throughout the country to share best practices that could help improve lower performing schools.
Other schools in the area to receive the designation include Suzanne Middle School, also in the Walnut Valley Unified School District, as well as Rancho Starbuck in the Lowell Joint School District, Clifton Middle School in Monrovia Unified, Alvarado Intermediate in Rowland Unified and Torch Middle School in Bassett Unified. Both Alvarado and Torch have received the honor before.
“Just realize that now you are not only one of the top middle schools in all of California,” Walnut Valley superintendent Robert Taylor told students at the Chaparral ceremony. “But you’re recognized as one of the top middle schools in the entire United States of America, and it’s a wonderful, a wonderful honor.”
Irvin Howard, the co-director of the state program, was at the meeting to present a banner signifying the designation.
“This school was not selected as a school to watch because it’s a perfect school,” Howard said. “You’re selected as a school to watch because the school is on a path toward success.”
Recommended policy that has come out of the program includes the endorsement of teaching interventions such as specialized training for middle school teachers, with an emphasis on understanding early adolescence. The program has also recommended instructional techniques like allowing students the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of a subject in a variety of ways, rather than depending on one measure, like a test score.
But Ryan Real, an 8th grader and Chaparral’s ASB president, said the students are just as critical as the teachers in developing a high-performing school.
“I have observed a vast majority of students whose motivated nature is what allows them to become successful, well-rounded individuals,” Real said. “Students here at Chaparral put in so much effort and are really the reason why we are so excellent.”