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Two Lincoln schools receive top honors

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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Two of Lincoln’s schools received top honors Thursday when they were officially recognized as California Distinguished Schools.


Both Lincoln High School and Twelve Bridges Middle School received the award, which only 11 percent of schools in the state are even eligible for, according to Western Placer Unified School District officials.


“I think it verifies everything we’ve known about this school,” said Lincoln High Principal David Butler. “It’s an excellent school. We have students who care and staff who want what’s best for the students.”


The awards mark the first time Lincoln schools have had the honor bestowed upon them, said Superintendent Scott Leaman.


“It’s very nice,” said Twelve Bridges Middle School Principal Stacey Brown. “The staff’s really excited.”


Brown said he “didn’t think the full impact of getting the award had sunk in with students” Thursday but that he planned to make an announcement and send letters home with the students over spring break (April 6 through April 10).


“We are very proud of the outstanding work of our district’s teachers, support staff, administrators, parents and students,” Leaman said. “Being a California Distinguished School shows that our secondary students are receiving a top-notch education that will give them a competitive edge as they move into careers or college.”


Applications for the award were filed in mid December, and then a Distinguished School Validation Team came out to the schools on March 11 to verify that everything in the application was accurate, said Ersula Bombard, an English teacher at Lincoln High and one of the teachers who worked on the application.


To receive the award, each school highlighted two of its programs as significant practices that lead to the closure of the “achievement gap,” which Bombard explained as being the difference in test scores between mainstream students and those who are socio-economically disadvantaged or for whom English is a second language.


The tests involved are the standardized tests that are part of the statewide and nationwide rankings.


At the high school, those programs are the high school farm, which is a hands-on learning environment, and the English department’s focus on professional learning communities, said English teacher Holli Little.


Little explained that professional learning communities are groups of teachers working together to help ensure than no students “fall through the cracks.”

The two programs at Twelve Bridges highlighted for the award were the new bell schedule, which incorporates six class periods per day instead of four, and the use of “intervention classes” to bring students who are struggling up to the level of their peers.


The intervention classes are supplements to the regular general-education classes that allow students more time to grasp a subject in which they are struggling, Brown said.


Little said that as a teacher, receiving the award is “like a little recognition of what we feel has been understated. The students have worked really hard to raise their test scores.”


The schools will receive plaques and flags at an awards ceremony in May.

“It’s an honor,” said Lincoln High senior Chris Wind. “I’ve been at this school for four years and that tells me that the teachers all care and the students all care.”


Students at Twelve Bridges were equally proud.

“I’m really proud actually,” said seventh grader Cassidy Shaffer, “because a lot of my friends got really high scores on their tests.”


Seventh-grader Aliyah Utush said earning the award was amazing.

“The school gives as much as they can to the students,” Aliyah said.


While Brown said much of the credit goes to staff and students, he said none of it would have been possible without the parents.


“It’s a community effort,” Brown said. “Obviously, it’s students and teachers but the students are supported at home by their parents. It’s definitely a community effort.”


Brandon Darnell can be reached by e-mail at brandond@goldcountrymedia.com.