Arcadia Unified School District’s Foothills Middle School has earned coveted honors from the U.S. Department of Education as a 2022 National Blue Ribbon School. Foothills Middle School is one of only 10 schools in L.A. County, one of only 29 schools in California, and one of only 297 schools in the nation to earn this recognition.
“We are profoundly grateful and humbled that Foothills Middle School has been distinguished as a National Blue Ribbon School,” shared Dr. Ben Acker, who has served as the school’s principal since 2014. “This recognition is an important celebration of the endless work our school’s educators, counselors, and staff engage in to create safe, student-centered learning environments that foster belonging and promote the positive personal, academic, social, and emotional development of every one of our students.”
Of the nearly 135,000 public and private elementary, middle, and high schools that operate nationwide, only 297 schools achieved a spot in the U.S. Department of Education’s 39th cohort of National Blue Ribbon Schools. Blue Ribbon honorees were selected for their overall academic performance or for progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups, as explained by the U.S. Department of Education.
“I’m so proud of our Foothills Middle School team for the caring and consistent work they do daily in support of nurturing the growth of the whole child,” said Arcadia Unified Superintendent Dr. David Vannasdall. “As a district, we are grateful for our reputation of academic excellence and have continued to place an increasing emphasis on the social and emotional well-being of our students, which involves a great deal of collaboration and support between all of our schools. It’s so special to see that work honored and recognized.”
According to its website, the U.S. Department of Education further explains that the 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.
“I applaud all the honorees for the 2022 National Blue Ribbon Schools Award for creating vibrant, welcoming, and affirming school communities where students can learn, grow, reach their potential, and achieve their dreams,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “As our country continues to recover from the pandemic, we know that our future will only be as strong as the education we provide to all of our children. Blue Ribbon Schools have gone above and beyond to keep students healthy and safe while meeting their academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs. These schools show what is possible to make an enduring, positive difference in students’ lives.”
Foothills Middle School is one of 11 schools in the Arcadia Unified School District. According to Arcadia Unified’s website, all schools in the district are unified by a collective purpose, which is “To challenge and inspire students to make a positive and profound impact on their world.”
Arcadia Unified has remained committed to its mental health initiatives by ensuring that each Arcadia Unified school has at least one full-time school counselor to provide proactive approaches to student social-emotional development and wellness. Likewise, the district also offers character education programs, such as “The Leader in Me” for students in TK-8 grade, and has adopted “restorative practices,” which are techniques geared towards community-building in classrooms and schools.
Additionally, Arcadia Unified has consistently been ranked by Niche in the top 1% of the best school districts, school districts with the best teachers, and the best places to teach in the United States, California, and Los Angeles. Each Arcadia Unified elementary and middle school has also been recognized as a California Distinguished School by the California Department of Education.
Foothills Middle School will receive its official Blue Ribbon award during a ceremony to be held in Washington D.C., on Nov. 3. More details on the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program may be accessed on the U.S. Department of Education website, and for additional information about Arcadia Unified, visit www.ausd.net.