Idyllwild School has again been recognized as a California Distinguished School, as well as a Title 1 Academic Achievement Award School.

Last week, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson designated 424 elementary schools as distinguished throughout the state. Idyllwild was the only Hemet Unified School District campus honored.

Then on Monday, Torlakson announced that 106 California public schools will receive the 2013-14 Title I Academic Achievement Award. Idyllwild and Harmony are the two HUSD Title 1 awardees.

About 6,000 of California’s 10,000 schools receive federal Title I funds as authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Title I, the single largest federal educational program for K-12 public education, assists schools in meeting the educational needs of students living at or below the poverty line.

“I am so proud of the fantastic work the kids, parents and everyone at Idyllwild School does,” wrote HUSD Trustee Vic Scavarda. “It is such a great honor.”

“It’s a tremendous honor,” said HUSD Superintendent Dr. Barry Kayrell. “To make their targets three times is incredible. The overall API [academic performance index] is outstanding.”

Besides Idyllwild, only 13 other Riverside County elementary schools are 2014 Distinguished Schools.

“At Idyllwild School, we use both sides of the brains,” said Principal Matt Kraemer at the school’s Volunteer Tea Friday afternoon. He praised the smARTs program, the music program led by Buzz Holmes and the volunteers who help with physical education. “We use both hemispheres, which is why we’re a Distinguished School.”

This is the third time Idyllwild has received this distinction and the third consecutive year it has been a Title 1 Academic Achievement honoree. Kraemer was prolific with praise for the designation and thanked many for their contributors, including the students’ parents and the faculty.

Kayrell also acknowledged the school’s connection with the community and felt this contributed greatly to the students’ success.

“The community resources for arts, music and physical education help with academics and success beyond the classroom. Add up all the ingredients and you get a higher performing school,” Kayrell gushed.

Scavarda was a member of the Idyllwld faculty the first two times it was honored as a California Distinguished School and he also described the collective effort for this achievement.

“I was privileged to meet with the visiting team [the Education Department’s review team] last month and heard about all the great experiences and programs we offer our kids here,” Scavarda said. “The comment was made that one of the things that makes Idyllwild special is that everyone, from Beth [Swanson] and Mary [Norris] in the office, to our cafeteria manager Sonia [Dravenstatt], Mr. Kraemer, our teachers, and all through the school are passionately involved in the education of Idyllwild kids.

“Everyone works together as a team to help our kids be the best they can be. Can you tell I feel strongly about this?” Scavarda wrote proudly of the schools achievement.

The criteria for becoming a California Distinguished School include a school’s API at or greater than the 60th percentile for the 2013 growth target, which is 833. Idyllwild’s API was 909.

The school-wide 2013 growth API must equal or be greater than the school’s growth target and all significant subgroups must achieve their growth targets.

“To hit their targets, especially the underperforming groups and all the categoricals — very difficult. That’s what makes it hard,” Kayrell stated.

To receive the Title 1 Achievement honor, the school must demonstrate that all students are making significant progress toward proficiency on California’s academic content standards. Additionally, the school’s socioeconomically disadvantaged students must have doubled the achievement targets set for them for two consecutive years.