MONTEBELLO – Four Montebello Unified elementary campuses have been named California Gold Ribbon Schools for effectively engaging students through creative science lessons, a growing performance arts program, a strategic model for strengthening reading skills, and a data-driven method to close the achievement gap.

The Gold Ribbons – California’s highest academic award – were earned by Bell Gardens, Greenwood, Suva and Washington elementary schools.

“We are very proud to receive these awards, and we congratulate our schools for this well-deserved recognition,” Montebello Unified Board of Education President Benjamin Cárdenas said. “Our Gold Ribbons are a testament to the strength of our academic program and illustrate the continued hard work of our teachers, staff, students and community as we have implemented the new state standards.”

The California Gold Ribbon School Award was created in 2014-15 as a substitute for the state’s Distinguished Schools Program to celebrate schools for model programs during rollout of the new California Standards. The program started with middle and high schools in 2015 and shifted to elementary schools this year.

“The Gold Ribbon awards are a strong indicator of how dedicated we are in meeting and exceeding expectations at our schools,” MUSD Superintendent Susanna Contreras Smith said. “The application process provided an excellent opportunity to showcase the teacher, student and parent perspectives within our school communities to the visiting team of state officials who granted the awards.”

Schools applied for the Gold Ribbon program in November 2015. Applications were reviewed in January and site visits conducted through March. Regional award ceremonies will be held in May.

In all, the state honored 772 elementary schools.