OPMS takes center stage as California School to Watch

Olive Peirce Middle School teachers and students display college banners and shirts. Sentinel photo/Bill Tamburrino
Olive Peirce Middle School teachers and students display college banners and shirts. Sentinel photo/Bill Tamburrino

By BILL TAMBURRINO

The outdoor assembly at the Olive Peirce Middle School amphitheater Friday afternoon was akin to a pep rally as the school celebrated its Schools to Watch designation as a model middle school with state, regional and district officials.

OPMS is one of four middle schools in the state receiving the designation this school year. Students, teachers, support staff, parents, administrators, school board members and guests witnessed the celebration of what Principal Linda Solis calls “the greatest school on the planet.”

Dr. Irvin Howard, director of California School to Watch Program and president-elect of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, congratulated OPMS and presented a Schools to Watch—Taking Center Stage banner that will be hung at the school. Accepting the banner were students Megan Vandervort, Emily Sojourner, Sidney Anderson, Matt Shaw, Maren Bagshaw, Sydney Hickle, and Austin Goodwin.

The California Schools to Watch program recognizes a small number of diverse, high-performing, growth-oriented middle grades schools to demonstrate what all middle-grade schools are capable of achieving.

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Band Director Karl Lampe leads Olive Peirce Middle School musicians in college fight songs. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

The program identifies high-performing, middle-grade schools that:

•Are academically excellent—challenge students to use their mind well

•Are developmentally responsive—sensitive to the unique developmental challenges of early adolescence

•Are socially equitable—democratic and fair, providing every student with high-quality teachers, resources, and support

The middle school band played college fight songs, and the students, teachers, administrators, and staff wore shirts and sweatshirts with the logos of their favorite colleges and universities. OPMS encourages all of its students to aspire to go to college.

Solis started the assembly by congratulating all that made the

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Olive Peirce Middle School Principal Linda Solis and Dr. Irvin Howard, director of the California Schools to Watch Program. Sentinel photo/Bill Tamburrino

award possible. She explained that OPMS is a team and the team consists of faculty, staff, parents, and students. Every member of the team is important and contributed to the award, she said.

Missy Cobian, OPMS librarian and teacher, introduced students Emma Hopperton and Hania Heredia, who read their winning student essays, “What Makes Olive Peirce Different.”

Among those making brief comments were Dr. Dan Lopez, Ramona Unified School District Board president, and Dr. Robert Graeff, district superintendent. Lopez is a past president of the California League of Middle Schools.

Board member and OPMS parent Kim Lasley and former OPMS administrators Tony Newman and Pauline Leavitt made comments. Newman is now Ramona High School principal, and Leavitt is James Dukes Elementary principal.

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Librarian Missy Cobian introduces the student essay contest winners. Sentinel photo/Bill Tamburrino

OPMS Assistant Principal Robin Arend presented an inspiring speech. Parents Kristina Krohne and Bill Mellecker gave brief speeches as did OPMS PTSA President Katie Schwegler and Peter Murphy, National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform president and California League of Middle Schools executive director.

In addition, OPMS teachers and CLMS educators of the year Ingrid Forbes and JJ Sclar were recognized during the celebration.

A reception for invited guests and staff was held in the performing arts center after the celebration.

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Principal Linda Solis addresses the assembly. Sentinel photo/Bill Tamburrino
   
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