Don Julian Elementary School has been named a California Gold Ribbon School for promoting a college-going culture over the past five years through the No Excuses University program.

“This award speaks to the dedication of our entire staff in preparing our students for colleges and careers,” Principal Martha Arceo said. “We are honored to be recognized for the great work we are doing.”

The Gold Ribbon is California’s highest academic honor, created in 2015 as a substitute to the Distinguished School Program to honor schools for model programs during rollout of the new California Standards. The program started last year with middle and high schools. This year, it recognized 772 elementary schools.

The No Excuses University program creates a college-going culture that emphasizes students and parents to begin thinking and learning about different colleges at an early age.

Each classroom adopts a university and students wear their college T-shirt every Friday. Teachers discuss different programs, majors and famous alumni from their assigned university to pique students’ interests in possible higher education institutions.

Arceo distributed gold balloons to each classroom to tell the students about the Gold Ribbon School Award. As Arceo passed out the balloons, one kindergartener asked, “Did we get this because we are meeting our goals?”

“This just speaks to the impact our No Excuses University program has on our students,” Arceo said. “They are aware of the importance of meeting their academic goals and I am proud of their daily achievements that contributed toward Don Julian receiving this award.”

Van Wig Elementary is adopting the No Excuses University program this school year. Sunkist Elementary also implemented the program along with Parent University, which aims to provide parents with resources so that they can best support their children in their post-secondary education goals.

“Congratulations to Don Julian Elementary on being recognized as having one of the best programs in the state,” Superintendent Dr. Alex Rojas said. “The No Excuses University and Parent University programs are valuable curricula that instill a college-going culture, help our students realize the opportunities available to them at an early age and support our parents to achieve their children’s goals.”

A team of district and site representatives will attend a California School Recognition Awards regional ceremony where they will receive a flag and a plaque on May 24.


GOLDRIBBON1: Don Julian Elementary staff and teachers pass out gold balloons to each classroom in recognition of receiving the California Gold Ribbon Award. Don Julian earned the award based on their fifth year of implementing the No Excuses University Program.

GOLDRIBBON2: Don Julian Elementary students sport their college apparel during the College Colors Parade as part of their No Excuses University program. Don Julian was named a Gold Ribbon School for promoting a college-going culture over the past five years through No Excuses University.