The walls could barely contain the school spirit surging through the gymnasium at the most recent assembly at LCHS. One word was on everyone’s mind: celebrate!
Students were each given blue glow-sticks that they could wave or wear, and seniors traded their customary red crowns for blue crowns. For the third time, LCHS has been awarded as a National Blue Ribbon School, a title belonging to only sixty-two schools across the nation this year.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, “The National Blue Ribbon School award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging content.”
In order to qualify for the award, first, a school must be nominated by the U.S. Department of Education. Then, the school is invited to submit an application, which will be reviewed and hopefully selected. As noted by Susan Moore, “We stood up against many of the best schools in the country.”
The faculty team that accepted the colossal task of completing the application included Principal Ian McFeat, English Teacher Susan Moore, and Fine Arts Teacher Justin Eick. Together, they spent hours analyzing data, preparing reports, and writing essays describing the numerous programs and resources being offered at LCHS as well as the progress being made.
Upon winning, they were invited to travel to Washington D.C. and were joined by Science Teacher Richard Weld, Head of Security Tanya Wilson, and Choir Director Dr. Jeff Brookey. There, they attended daily workshops and events, led by other dynamic educators. Photos of their trip were displayed in a presentation for the students who cheered proudly.
As affirmed by Ms. Moore, “This is really a celebration of the work we do as a learning community, what we do to support all aspects of learning from students who are challenged by learning to students who excel. It includes the new math program, engineering, science, STEM, music, drama, art, the school newspaper, sports, and technology. They way we reach all children was a big focus.”
Two special guest speakers came to the assembly to congratulate the students.Teresa Lamb from Congressman Adam Schiff’s office presented a Certificate of Recognition to Principal McFeat with an official plaque from the U.S. Department of Education from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Anthony Portantino then presented the school with a Blue Ribbon banner to be kept on display.
Through the course of the assembly, students involved in all of the aforementioned groups took the floor to promote activities and to show support for one another. The pep squad, cheerleaders, color guard, marching band, and chamber singers performed; sports teams rallied; the AP chemistry and AP physics classes engaged in a battle of wits; the speech and debate team presented; and the engineering club provided a game of “Robot Freeze Tag.” The students also had collaborated to make a special video featuring students from various groups, lip-dubbing and dancing to music across the school. Seeing so many students being creative and inclusive was unifying.
The biggest surprise of the morning occurred when Mr. McFeat began to give a lengthy history of the Blue Ribbon Award and was interrupted by a flash mob comprised of none other than the faculty and staff of LCHS. Athletic Director Kristina Kalb, who planned the dance, shared, “What we do at La Canada is so much more than teaching about concepts and curriculum. It is about being connected to students--doing a faculty flash mob dance was more than worth the extra time and effort because we care so much about our students and our school. Keeping it a secret took a lot of effort, but it was worth it and so much fun.”
After so much hard work, this assembly was time well spent having fun as a school community. As expressed by Mr. McFeat, “I think that the Blue Ribbon Award is about more than academics. It’s about how the students support each other, their love for each other. It’s also about the arts, extracurriculars, a celebration of our success. It validates their work and the faculty’s work.” He has assured that the theme of celebration will be incorporated in all the assemblies throughout the year.