Winton school nominated for national honor

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comApril 15, 2014 

Winton’s Frank Sparkes School has been nominated as a National Blue Ribbon School, one of 35 in California in the running for the honor.

Kim Cuthriell, Sparkes School principal, said she will learn in September if the school has been selected. It has consistently won awards for high student achievement, she said.

To celebrate the nomination the school held a party, Cuthriell said. A disc jockey played music, and hamburgers and ice cream were served. A banner announcing the nomination hangs in front of the Almond Avenue school.

Teacher Lee Meyer said teamwork and the commitment of staff to teaching, as well as students’ hard work, dedication and motivation, are responsible for the Blue Ribbon School nomination.

Just to be nominated is an honor, said Randall Heller, Winton School District superintendent. The community and school board members are proud of what has been accomplished at Sparkes School.

“When something good happens we need to toot our own horn,” Heller said. “Realistically, teachers drive the train. A lot of kudos go to the teachers who have continued the trend of teaching to their strengths.”

Heller praised the school’s previous principal, Ka Vang, for her efforts in dramatically improving students’ test scores between 2008 and 2013. The school has 430 students in preschool through fifth grade.

Sparkes teacher Wachue Xiong said reading has become a top priority for students. Many spend their recess reading instead of playing.

Through team teaching, Xiong said, teachers get to know all the students and are able to teach to their individual strengths.

The school met the state’s annual measurable objectives on testing for the past two years, Cuthriell said. The school scored 841 on the Academic Performance Index last year, 117 points higher than the 2007 score. These scores are based on students ranking proficient or advanced on the state STAR test.

“We have been nominated as one of 35 schools out of 9,324 public K-12 schools in the state of California, so this is a tremendous honor,” Cuthriell said.

Sun-Star staff writer Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dyawger@mercedsunstar.com.

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