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A.C. Stelle Named California Distinguished School

The middle school was one of just 222 schools in California to be given the prestigious designation, which it also won in 2009.

CALABASAS, CA — The Alice C. Stelle Middle School in Calabasas was one of just 222 schools designated as a 2021 California Distinguished School. The district’s youngest school was already given this prestigious distinction in 2009, just five years after it opened. In 2015, it was also designated a National Blue Ribbon School.

“We are very excited to have gotten this distinction,” Principal Susana Baird told Patch. “I think at the end of the day it shows the dedication and the hard work of the staff on a daily basis. We’re not thinking of an award at the end of the day, we’re thinking of what’s best for our students, and this shows that.”

“Congratulations to our admin team, teachers, staff and students at A.C. Stelle Middle School!” the Las Virgenes Unified School District posted on its social media. “A.C. Stelle is one of 102 schools in the state honored as a 2021 California Distinguished School. Less than 2% of middle and high schools in the state receive this distinction. Way to go!”

102 schools were given the award in March, and 120 schools followed in April.

The Acorn.

Baird said that the school, which was the only one in Las Virgenes to receive the designation, did not apply for it. She heard through the grapevine that the school had received the prestigious award, and had to go online to verify. Later, a bag full of Distinguished School swag arrived in the mail, and Baird said the school plans to paint a mural celebrating their achievement.

The California State Board of Education awards the Distinguished School designation to about two percent of the public schools in the state. The board grants the award to schools with exceptional achievements in student academic performance and in closing the socioeconomic achievement gap. For a middle school to be considered, it must demonstrate high growth in English or math for disadvantaged students, low rates of suspension and chronic absenteeism, high participation in English language arts and math. See here for a more detailed list of considerations.

Normally, individual school data can be found online, but the Board of Education says that state law prohibits the reporting of state and local indicators on the 2020 Dashboard due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A.C. Stelle was completed in 2004 in response to overcrowding at A.E. Wright Middle School. It is named for Alice Condee Stelle, one of the first LVUSD board members who campaigned vigorously in the early 1960s for the creation of an independent school district. In addition to serving four terms on the school board, Stelle and her husband Mac were foster parents to many teenagers, and advocated on behalf of foster families. She was also a leader in the Conejo/Las Virgenes Futures Foundation, the Calabasas Historical Society, and the Assistance League of the San Fernando Valley.

72 other schools in Los Angeles County were awarded the distinction. See here for a full list of 2021 awardees.

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