Schools

HMS Brings Home Coveted Blue Ribbon

First published in the Nov. 18 print issue of the San Marino Tribune.

Huntington Middle School has once again achieved the coveted National Blue Ribbon status, the only California middle school to be honored for the year 2021.
Principal Daryl Topalian attended the official awards ceremony, which took place Nov. 4-5 in National Harbor, Maryland, following the announcement of winners in September.

The coveted award affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.
The U.S. Department of Education recognizes schools in one of two performance categories, based on student scores and graduation rates. Competing for Blue Ribbons are states’ highest-performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.
As many as 420 schools may be nominated each year. This marks the second time that HMS has achieved Blue Ribbon status, the first in 1996.
Topalian was on hand at the regular meeting of the San Marino School Board on Nov. 9 and brought with him the official hardware.
“This belongs to our staff, teachers and students who have accomplished such extraordinary success,” said Topalian, who is in his second year at HMS. “This is not something I have done, and it reflects the hard work of not just one year, but for two years, five years.”
Topalian thanked English teacher Rob Miller, who accompanied the principal to Maryland and provided valuable assistance in the lengthy application process. He commended Alana Faure and Michael Lin, principals of Valentine Elementary School and Carver Elementary School, respectively, for their roles in providing a consistent education experience.
“Every student is valued and an active learner,” Topalian said. He also recognized the contributions of Mary Hazlett, assistant principal at HMS.
The principal quoted a legendary football coach during his presentation at the school board meeting.
“Vince Lombardi once said the achievement of an organization is the result of each individual achievement,” he said.
Nearby La Cañada Flintridge had two recipients, with Paradise Canyon and Palm Crest elementary schools both earning Blue Ribbon status.
Approximately 10,000 awards have been bestowed by the Department of Education on more than 9,000 schools in the Blue Ribbon’s 39 years.

Now in his 25th year at The Tribune, Mitch Lehman is Editor and Sports Editor in addition to being the public address announcer for ten sports programs at San Marino High School. Mitch is one of only a handful in the community to receive the ‘Very Special Person Award’ from the San Marino PTA at the annual Founder’s Day ceremony, was acknowledged as a 'Terrific Titan' by the San Marino High School PTSA, was named an Honorary Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Club of San Marino and received a National Honorary Merit Badge in Journalism from the Boy Scouts of America. He has received two independent Pulitzer Prize nominations and in the past three years, Mitch has won seven awards and is a thirteen-time finalist in the California News Publishers Association's Better Newspapers Contest. In 2015, the press box at Titan Stadium was re-named 'Lehman's Loft' in his honor. You can reach Mitch at mitchlehman@sanmarinotribune.com.

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