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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Lakeridge named Best of State's top public school

Lakeridge named Best of State's top public school Print E-mail

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Lakeridge Junior High School in south Orem has done a complete 180, going from being one of the district's academically struggling junior highs to a trajectory of being one of its most promising.

At a special banquet on Saturday at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Lakeridge representatives will accept a Best Of State Award for the Best Public K-12 School in Utah, a milestone unfathomable just a few years ago.

"Six years ago, Lakeridge was one of the lowest academically performing junior highs in the Alpine School District," said Tim Stay, Lakeridge's Community Council chairman. "At that time, a group of parents, teachers and administrators joined together and created a plan on how to become a top performing junior high."

Since then, he said, the school community has seen "dramatic and consistent progress among all students."

Garrick Peterson, Lakeridge's principal, believes the school was selected by the Best of State committee for the honor because of its demonstrated academic improvements in the past two years based on the school's improvement plan. Successful programs like the school's Flex Program to provide one-on-one mentoring for failing students to gain proficiency on a given subject, have been part of that plan.

One of the keys to the turnaround has been involving the entire community in helping traditionally lower performing groups of students, including those from low-income and Latino households, succeed academically, Peterson said.

For example, the pass rate in mathematics and English among Latino students rose from 30 percent to around 70 percent. Special-needs students' pass rates jumped from 30 to 50-60 percent while low-income students' pass rates went from around 40 percent to 75 percent.

"Overall, our school has gone from a 60 percent pass rate to 85 to 90 percent, depending on whether it is math or science," Peterson said. "It's a great improvement over the last five to six years."

Vernon Henshaw, superintendent of the Alpine School District, said Lakeridge's Best of State Award is a reflection of its entire school community pulling together.

"It's the faculty working together with the administration inviting parents through the Community Council and PTA board to identify the needs and all working toward those needs," he said. "It's very simple, but it's a lot of work ... That's been tremendous with what they've done."

Lynn Eyestone, a parent on the Lakeridge Community Council, said rising student scores are a direct result of the school community cooperation.

"We still have much more work to do, but we are excited about where Lakeridge is headed," she said.

Peterson said the Best of State Award is a validation of the efforts of the school community working together to try to make Lakeridge the best place it can be for education.

It says "what's going on is effective and affecting kids' lives in a positive way," he said. "More kids are going to have more opportunities in their lives."


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