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Three Sunnyvale School District schools receive Gold Ribbon Awards


goldribbonlogoSunnyvale School District’s Cumberland, San Miguel, and Vargas Elementary Schools are being honored under the 2016 California Gold Ribbon Schools Awards Program.

The Gold Ribbon awards recognize California schools that have made advancements in implementing the California Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics, California English Language Development Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards.

Schools applied for the award based on a model program their school has adopted that includes standards-based activities, projects, strategies and practices that can be replicated by other local educational agencies.

While nearly 6,000 elementary schools were eligible to apply this year, 772 schools received the commendation. The award recognized middle and high schools last year.

Cumberland Elementary is being recognized for its Project Based Learning-Leveraging Parent Engagement and Technology program.

Cumberland Elementary’s Project Based Learning sees teachers design standards-based curriculum across subjects for students in grades K -5. The project aims to teach the curriculum in fun, meaningful ways that also allow students to see the product of their effort.

Students collect cans for food drive projectStudent projects include designing an advertisement to entice people to visit a planet of their own creation, researching charities and raising funds for a charity of the student’s choosing, and brainstorming ideas for water conservation.

“Project-based learning is so important because it really engages students in learning rigorous content in a way that ignites excitement and deep learning,” said Cumberland Principal Edy Mourtos. “It also creates opportunities for students to practice key life skills such as collaborating, problem solving, creating and thinking critically.”

San Miguel was awarded for its model program “Creating a Community School.” As a community school, San Miguel provides services beyond just the normal academic day to community members as well as school families.


The school follows five core tenets: home/school connection, changemaker climate, strong instructional practice, positive school culture, and community partnerships.

Some factors that contribute to San Miguel’s positive environment are the first year launch of the dual immersion Spanish-English Juntos Program, early childhood education, food distribution program with Sunnyvale Community Services that distributes 150 bags of food every other week, and dental care on campus free of charge to students, siblings, and parents.

“We will do everything and anything to close the achievement and opportunity gap while creating rich experiences for our children,” said San Miguel Principal Christina Ballantyne.

Students meet a crab via the Marine Science Institute.

Vargas Elementary School is being recognized for its program of “Student Success through Science” (VS3). This school-wide program deeply implements two practices: 1) science inquiry, and 2) scientific writing through student notebooks. All students from grades TK through 5 routinely study Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) content in their classrooms, followed with hands on activities in our science lab while documenting inquiries, wonderings and findings in student notebooks. In addition, each trimester includes a school-wide inquiry project which assists in providing opportunities for the use of shared academic language. All assemblies and learning excursions (fieldtrips) are science-based.

The schools were recognized officially at a California School Recognition Program Awards Ceremony on May 5. Previous Gold Ribbon Award winners in the Sunnyvale School District include Columbia Middle School and Sunnyvale Middle School, which were recognized in 2015.

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