Congratulations to Stonegate Elementary School! Irvine Unified School District’s newest elementary school, designed by PJHM Architects, has become a national Blue Ribbon School – one of the nation’s highest levels of recognition for public and private schools. Only 15 schools in California were named 2013 National Blue Ribbon Schools, and just two were recognized from Orange County. A hearty congratulations to the students, teachers, parents and staff who made this honor possible!
This is not the first time an Irvine Unified School District has won. In fact, Stonegate Elementary is now IUSD’s 14th Blue Ribbon School dating back to the start of the federal program in 1983. PJHM Architects is extremely proud of our successful history with IUSD, with that history beginning just prior to the 1972 District unification. With our near 40 year relationship with the Irvine Unified School District we have completed over a dozen carefully conceived, innovative, cost effective, green/energy saving schools, all of which PJHM considers to be significant educational design examples. The resulting facilities, along with PJHM’s association with the District, are held in our highest esteem. PJHM Architects is honored to have provided architectural services to five of the fourteen awarded schools:
- Canyon View Elementary School (2004)
- Meadow Park Elementary School (1998-99)
- Stonegate Elementary School (2013)
- Vista Verde School (1996-97)
- Westwood Basics Plus School (1998-99)
So how do schools earn the Blue Ribbon designation? Well, it can be done one of two ways:
“Exemplary High-Performing” sites like Stonegate Elementary are those that rate among the very best on English and math assessments. Student subgroups at these schools, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, must also perform at a similarly high level.
“Exemplary-Improving” schools are those that are able to demonstrate significant improvement on assessments even though 40 percent or more of their students are from disadvantaged backgrounds. “Disadvantaged” refers to students who are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals, those who receive federal Title I services, those who are limited in their English proficiency, migrant students and students who require special services.
Both paths require schools to complete extensive data reviews and exhaustive reports.
Principal Stan Machesky, who made the announcement during his students’ popular “Stonegate News” video broadcast, said the designation was particularly meaningful given the steady growth at Stonegate, which has seen its student population and teaching staff double since opening in 2009.
“You’re prideful, but you’re also humble at the same time,” Machesky said. “With the amount of growth that we’ve had with our teachers, as well as our students, it’s quite significant to have continued academic growth and success.”
Stonegate Elementary is hailed for its environmentally-friendly design, which includes inverted-pyramid skylights in each classroom and a reflective “cool roof.” PJHM provided Irvine Unified School District with their first CHPS designed school in 2009. Stonegate Elementary was a main catalyst for the implementation of the 2009 Board Resolution requiring all new school construction to meet or exceed CHPS standards.
Stonegate was off the charts this year, posting a 963 on the state’s most recent Academic Performance Index, which measures overall achievement on a scale of 200 to 1,000. The campus, which also earned California Distinguished School honors in 2010, was notified in December that it was a Blue Ribbon contender.
We at PJHM want to congratulate Stonegate Elementary and Irvine Unified School District. We are proud to say that we have and will continue to set the precedent for high performance buildings, not only in Irvine, but to all of our clients.