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Del Oro earns state honor

High school named a Distinguished School — the only one in the county
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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Fans of Del Oro High School have always believed it’s an outstanding school. Now it’s official. Del Oro has been named a 2011 California Distinguished School – the only high school in Placer County to receive the award this year. Principal Dan Gayaldo called the award a “point of pride.” “It let’s us know we’re moving in the right direction with academics,” he said. Laura Koop runs Del Oro’s student store and is the parent of a current student and a graduate. Koop said she isn’t surprised Del Oro received the award. “Del Oro is a fantastic school. We have great leadership and great teachers,” she said. Gayaldo said the award recognizes Del Oro’s steady growth in the Academic Performance Index (API) score, more focus on student classroom performance, more advanced placement class offerings and an increase in the number of students taking classes required for 4-year college entrance. Paul Lundberg, assistant principal, said the award “confirms to teachers and staff that what we’re doing is valued.” According to the Department of Education, Del Oro was one of 97 middle and high schools from across the state to receive the award. Nominees submitted a comprehensive application and underwent an extensive site visit by a team of educators. The state initially identified 116 eligible schools based on criteria that included designated federal and state accountability measures and the API score. On applications, schools were required to describe two “successful signature practices” that helped the school achieve academic growth. The state chooses award recipients from high schools and junior highs every other year. Other Placer County high schools to receive the award in previous years are Whitney and Rocklin High Schools, in 2009; and Granite Bay High School, in 2007. Jeff Tooker, Placer Union High School District assistant superintendent and former Del Oro vice principal, said, “This validates what we’ve always known – Del Oro has always been a distinguished school.” Dr. Renee Regacho-Anaclerio, Placer County Office of Education associate superintendent, was a member of the site team that visited Del Oro before the award was made. She said the team found Del Oro “well deserving of this award. They have systems in place to make all students feel that they are a part of the school family, and students are supported to be academically successful.” Gayaldo plans to attend the award ceremony on May 20 in Anaheim when each school will receive a Distinguished School plaque and flag.