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Calendar >  Casita Center for Technology, Science & Math Recognized A 2023 National Blue Ribbon School

Casita Center for Technology, Science & Math Recognized A 2023 National Blue Ribbon School

By   /  October 10, 2023  /  No Comments

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TR Robertson -Stepping on the campus of Casita Center for Technology, Science & Math early Friday morning, excitement was in the air as staff, students and parents arrived knowing that the start of school this day would be different than any other day. This day, the staff and students of Casita Center would take part in a ceremony to honor the selection, by the U.S. Department of Education, of their school as one of the two schools in San Diego County to be awarded as a National Blue Ribbon School for 2023. This award places Casita Center also as one of 33 in all of California and one of 353 out of 130,000 K-12 schools in the United States to receive this award.

Awarding schools since 1982, “The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes public and private elementary, middle and high schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Every year the U.S. Department of Education seeks out and celebrates great American schools, schools demonstrating that all students can achieve to high levels. The coveted National Blue Ribbon School award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.”

As students began to arrive, most of them were wearing blue Casita t-shirts, music was playing beside the stage set-up on the blacktop area behind the school buildings. Casita staff members were also decked out in school shirts. The festive atmosphere could be felt as they all would be attending the Casita Center Blue Ribbon Ceremony shortly after the start of school. The agenda for the morning ceremony would include presentations by local and Congressional dignitaries, local high schools and presentations by selected students from Casita Center. Early arriving Staff and parents were treated to Vista’s Archer’s Arrow Coffee House drip coffee from owners Josh & Kat Barille, provided by Coldwell Banker Realtor Bill Shaffer, and in the Multi-Purpose Room an array of donuts, breakfast sandwiches and bagels were distributed by volunteers.

Casita Center was selected as a Blue Ribbon School for a variety of reasons. The school is a public magnet school that offers an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (IB PYP) with a STEM focus. “The IB PYP provides a framework for this learner-centered inquiry approach and our STEP focus supports the hands-on contextual learning that engages students, allowing them to access and enjoy their school experience.” Casita Center is also a strong community-based school with tremendous family involvement and volunteer programs.

All families received a letter from Principal Jenny Chien, telling them, in English and in Spanish, about the school’s accomplishments and giving them links in the announcement from U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, a link to the National Blue Ribbon Award and more information about the Casita Center application. Principal Chien said, “This recognition is extremely special to me in that I have been at Casita for 17 years. In the 17 years, I have seen many educators, families, and others work hard, stay flexible, and be creative to create a school with the systems and conditions that enable our learners to succeed. This prestigious award is a recognition for our learning community.” She said their state test scores put them on the radar by the California Department of Education to be nominated to apply. Principal Chien also noted that they are the first elementary school in Vista to receive this award. Previous recipients included Madison Middle School in 2001-2002 and Vista High and Rancho Buena Vista High in 1996.

The Casita Center Blue Ribbon Ceremony began with the 709-member student body being led in by grade level with their teachers seating them on the asphalt facing the stage. This was completed in a timely and most orderly manner. Surrounding the students were parents, grandparents, older siblings, and a small section for the dignitaries that would be taking part. The MCs for the celebration were extremely well-spoken 5th grade students, Wyland Condon, Ben Vasquez and Amayah Thompson. This group welcomed those in attendance, led those in attendance in the Pledge of Allegiance and the students in a Blue Ribbon cheer and introduced the first speaker, Vista Unified Superintendent Dr. Matthew Doyle. Dr. Doyle congratulated the students and staff and told them how proud he was of their accomplishments, especially because he was a former teacher at Casita. He also welcomed former Casita Principal Laura Smith. Next the MC’s introduced Vista School Board Trustee Martha Alverado who spoke about the Learning Center and Casita’s new approach to education. Vista High School Cheer squad was in attendance and had a special cheer for the Cougars, Casita’s nickname. Next on the program was the introduction of Shannon Bradley, representing Congressman Mike Levin’s Office. Shannon played a phone recording of the Congressman’s congratulations, then she presented a Certificate of Recognition from the Congressman for the school’s accomplishment. Three Casita 5th graders, Bella, Cora and Coralynn read short statements about what they liked most about Casita, listing things like the climate science lab, the after-school programs and the broadcasting programs as things that make this school unique. Trustee Cipriano Vargas congratulated Casita for their success, followed by a dance presentation by the Mission Hills Dance Team, including a special dance designed to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to signify female empowerment. Wrapping the ceremony up, the MC’s thanked those in attendance and dismissed the students to their teachers who escorted their classes to another open area on campus to take part in a drone photo of Casita students and staff, shot by Brandon Beresini, lined up in a Blue Ribbon design.

As the drone picture ended, the student body and teachers adjourned back to their classes to once again keep working in the classroom on those things that makes Casita Center for Technology, Science & Math a National Blue Ribbon School.

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  • Published: 8 months ago on October 10, 2023
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  • Last Modified: October 10, 2023 @ 1:10 am
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