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Latino community celebrates as KIPP LA Prep is honored as a National Blue Ribbon School

Esmeralda Fabián Romero | January 20, 2017

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KIPP LA Prep was awarded with the 2016 National Blue Ribbon School Award. The school community celebrated yesterday in the Boyle Heights campus. (Photo credit: KIPP LA)

The KIPP LA Prep community celebrates its National Blue Ribbon Award on Thursday at the Boyle Heights campus. (Photo credit: KIPP LA)

Education leaders in Los Angeles along with families and members of the community of Boyle Heights in East Los Angeles on Thursday celebrated that one of their neighborhood’s schools — KIPP Los Angeles College Preparatory School (KIPP LA Prep) — has been named a 2016 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.

The National Blue Ribbon Award represents the highest recognition a school can receive in the United States.

Recognized as an “Exemplary High Performing School” based on its high achievement on state assessments, KIPP LA Prep was one of two schools within LA Unified to receive the distinction. A total of 279 public schools nationwide — 33 of them in California — were honored with the award. The other in LA Unified was Wonderland Avenue Elementary School, located in the Hollywood Hills.

“Today on behalf of LAUSD we celebrate KIPP LA Prep and congratulate you on your excellence, accomplishment, success and for modeling what you all can be,” said school board member Mónica García during the celebration at the school campus in Boyle Heights, which is in the district she represents. “I am honored to be one of you. I appreciate your presence and I expect more. Keep doing it.”

• Read more: Last year, KIPP Raíces was the only LAUSD school to win a National Blue Ribbon Schools award

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors schools that achieve very high learning standards or are making notable advancements in closing the achievement gap. KIPP LA Prep demonstrated remarkable results with minority students from a disadvantaged community.

Founded in 2003, KIPP LA Prep is a free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public middle school that serves nearly 500 students in grades 5 through 8. It has a student population in which 98 percent are Latino and 95 percent qualify for free and reduced-price lunch.

“Many people would think that this wasn’t achievable, but we really proved them wrong. Today is a special day for our proud parents, our students and community in Boyle Heights,” said Nestor Gonzalez, a KIPP LA Prep parent who attended the celebration. “We’re very proud of KIPP LA Prep for showing our community and the nation that si se puede.”

He thanked his son by saying that he “added a little piece of the pie in making history in Boyle Heights.”

According to the 2016 Smarter Balanced Assessment, KIPP LA Prep exceeded the averages for both LA Unified and California with 74 percent of the school’s students meeting or exceeding the standards in math and 72 percent meeting or exceeding the standards in English language arts.

“KIPP LA Prep shows what a high-quality, world-class education can look like for any child in the U.S., proving that demographics and geography do not determine destiny,” Angella Martinez, KIPP LA’s chief academic officer, said in a news release.

Carlos Lanuza, one of the school leaders of KIPP LA Prep, also said in the news release that this award “demonstrates that all children can learn as long as there is an excellent school within their community that believes in them and guides them.”

KIPP LA serves a total of 6,000 students attending its 13 charter schools located in South and East Los Angeles. It is part of the KIPP network of schools with more than 200 charter schools located in 20 states and in Washington, D.C.

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