Los Molinos Elementary gets National Blue Ribbon

Students learn in the computer lab at Los Molinos Elementary in Hacienda Heights.

Students learn in the computer lab at Los Molinos Elementary in Hacienda Heights.

By Sandra Molina, Staff Writer

A Hacienda La Puente Unified school has been named a National Blue Ribbon School for academic excellence and closing achievement gaps. Los Molinos Elementary School in Hacienda Heights received the honor.

“These great schools are fulfilling the promise of American education — that all students, no matter their name or zip code, can flourish when schools provide safe, creative and challenging learning environments,” stated U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a press release. “National Blue Ribbon Schools are models of consistent excellence and a resource for other schools and districts. We celebrate them for their tireless effort and boundless creativity in reaching and teaching every student.”

Twenty-four California schools from a total of 334 schools nationwide earned this distinction.

At Los Molinos, third-year principal, Erin Roderick, gave credit to students’ parents working with school officials for achieving the blue ribbon status.

“We have a cohesive community of teachers, parents and staff who work together for the success of our students,” Roderick said. “Parent involvement is key.”

Los Molinos’ blue ribbon was based on exemplary achievement gap closing.

“We never give up,” she said of overcoming obstacles — such as language, socioeconomic backgrounds, lack of technological advancements at home — to educate their students.

The recognition “is a validation of what we are doing here is working,” she said. “When your kids walk through the school’s door, know that we are setting them up for a positive future.”

Both public and non-public schools are eligible for the National Blue Ribbon Schools award.  All schools are recognized in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates.

Los Molinos students walk for autism awareness

Autism walks. It talks. It feels. Lessons learned by the kids at Los Molinos Elementary during Autism Awareness Week. A week that ended with a better understanding of a disorder that affects 1 in 88 children, including 1 in 54 boys.

From left, Brandon Bravo, 11, Elijah Hernandez, 9, and Alexia Cota-Montoya, 10, and their classmates at Los Molinos Elementary School in Hacienda Heights complete their autism awareness week with a walk for autism on Friday. (Staff Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz)

The students even staged their own autism walk Friday, marching in the bright noon day sun. The line of 300 students curved around the athletic field like so many soldiers marching into battle in Hacienda Heights.

In this case, they were raising money to battle a disorder characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.

They were coaxed on by JACK FM, a radio station supporting the cause by lighting it up “blue” for Autism Awareness Month. Many students and parents took the time to sign up for the LA Autism Walk on April 20 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story AUTISM.