DBHS honored for excellence

Diamond Bar High School officially received the National Blue Ribbon award in Washington, D.C., commemorating its commitment to closing achievement gaps between students and accomplishing overall academic excellence.

Dr. Reuben Jones accepted DBHS’ first-ever Ribbon award on Nov. 11 with math teacher Dena Lordi, who was nominated by staff as a teacher representative. 

“I was incredibly honored to have been chosen,” Lordi said via email. “Our staff and students work so hard and put out so much creative energy”

In order to be considered for the award, a school must be nominated by the Chief State School Officer of its state, the Bureau of Indian Education or the Department of Defense Education Activity. 

“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,” the Department of Education said on its official website. 

According to the Department of Education, at least one-third of the public schools nominated by each state must be schools with a high percentage of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The definition extends to those economically disadvantaged, those eligible for free and reduced school meals, the disabled, non-native English speakers, migrant students or students receiving aid under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. 

“We have ELD coordinators [Esther Cho and Trina Dreyer] who both provide individual support to teachers for SIOP instruction [Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol],” Jones said. “It’s about how you teach in such a way that all students can learn, especially our English learners.”

DBHS also provides home hospital for students who have medical afflictions. A teacher is assigned to the student to deliver academic instruction at home. The credit recovery program also provides a way for students to make up for credits they may be missing. 

Schools must also meet criteria regarding student performance on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) in reading and mathematics or a composite score of both. The comparison is relative to the school’s county; while Los Angeles County had a passing percentile of 40% in both subjects, DBHS had a much higher 70% pass rate.      

A school’s graduation rate and student demographics are also taken into consideration and are included in an application submitted to the Department of Education. The 21-page report was a self-study conducted by English teacher Barbara Vanderheyden and art teacher Vianney Hwang on DBHS’ instruction, assessments and climate. The administration then added details on programs like The Bull’s Eye, Pathways Communications Academy, the Performing Arts Academy and having access to 23 AP courses and exams. 

“At Diamond Bar High School our mission is to be a premier school committed to the intellectual, physical and social development of every student,” DBHS said on the Department of Education’s website. “Diamond Bar is a community where every student’s cultural heritage enriches the learning experience for all students.”

According to Lordi, a potential delay in DBHS having only just received the award was due to a lack of focus on social wellness in the past decade, which has changed relatively recently. The additions of THRIVE and DB Forum events to DBHS’ calendar have allowed staff members to take note of student anecdotes and better connect them with their grade-level coordinators and teachers.