Waterford High is flying a second banner on its flag pole, one reserved for the gold standard of California high schools.
“These terrific schools are leading the way in embracing our new rigorous academic standards and showing others how to help students succeed on their way to 21st century careers and college,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in announcing the 2017 California Gold Ribbon Schools.
“I look forward to traveling the state to honor these schools and to help share the programs, methods, and techniques that are working,” he said of the 275 middle and high schools recognized this year.
Waterford High in eastern Stanislaus County and Mariposa High, serving all of Mariposa County, were the only schools in this region to garner the title this year. Mariposa High gained a further distinction for its career-focused classes.
The honor comes with high achievement that demonstrates a successful strategy other schools can try, said Waterford Principal Ignacio Ramirez.
His school has worked student collaboration into the heart of lessons across the campus, creating a new style of teaching base on Common Core requirements that students be able to show what they know, he explained.
“The Information is presented and kids are asked to make sense of it and communicate it to other students,” Ramirez said, calling it an extension of the grammar school pair-share concept.
“It’s interaction that has really allowed our kids to be the main participants in their learning,” he said.
English learners have shown the greatest gains with the system, which makes all students discuss what they understand and what they are still figuring out. “All our English learners are meeting (yearly) targets. It has had a major impact on them,” Ramirez said.
On May 12, Waterford High commemorated the honor with games for special education students. Leadership students and teachers led the teams through bean bag tossing, wet sponge throwing, a soccer game and a foot race, with the entire school cheering them on.
After the national anthem, Ramirez announced the award to students and raised the gold flag, flying in a stiff breeze below Old Glory as teens applauded.