Northwood High School has that ‘Distinguished’ look – for the third time since 2005


For the third time in eight years, Northwood High has earned the state’s highest level of recognition for a public school.

Northwood was one of 218 middle and high schools announced as California Distinguished Schools on Thursday by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. Each of the sites will be honored in May with a special plaque and flag, both signifying a prestigious designation that lasts four years.

sm-bannerAnd to think it was just four years ago that Northwood High hung its 2009 California Distinguished School banner, which of course followed on the heels of its 2005 banner.

That’s a lot of banners for a campus that opened in 1999.

“Fourteen years ago, Irvine Unified created a new high school with the intent of having it live up to our district’s history of great schools,” said Dr. Gavin-Huntley Fenner, president of the IUSD Board of Education. “Northwood has not only met those expectations, but it has exceeded them in nearly every category.”

“As a school board we could not be more proud of the students, parents and staff for this recognition,” Huntley-Fenner said. “They exemplify the best of our school district to the rest of the state.”

The California Distinguished School program has been around for nearly three decades now, recognizing exemplary elementary and secondary sites in alternating years. More recently, the program has also sought to spotlight schools that have made great strides in closing long-standing achievement gaps.

Sites that met specific accountability objectives in 2012 were once again encouraged to submit an application for the distinction. That application had to include a comprehensive description of at least two signature practices, which were were later verified by county-led review teams.

“This is a tremendous honor that really validates the hard work and dedication of our teachers, students, support staff and volunteers,” Northwood Principal Leslie Roach said Thursday. “We are extremely proud of the opportunities we are able to provide our students, and we don’t do this work for the accolades. Nevertheless, it is extremely gratifying to be recognized by your peers and by the state of California as a model for academic excellence.”

Northwood and the other award-winning schools will go on to serve as mentor sites for campuses hoping to replicate their successes, and the California Department of Education plans to help by updating a database of Distinguished School practices.

“These schools have gone the extra mile to provide high-quality instruction that puts their students on the right path toward career and college,” State Superintendent Torlakson said. “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.”

For more information about the program, check out the California Distinguished Schools website. Oh, and here’s a list of IUSD’s Distinguished Schools to date.