The staff and parents of Clifford Street Elementary in Echo Park are racing to finish a mural in time for a Friday afternoon celebration in honor of the school being awarded a 2009 National Blue Ribbon Award for academic excellence. Blue Ribbon schools are held up as national role models for showing dramatic improvement or continuing to demonstrate high levels of educational performance with a large numbers of disadvantaged students. Clifford was one of only five LA Unified campuses – including Solano Elementary – that were recognized last year as Blue Ribbon schools. Principal Kerry Kehrley said the award has played a roll in boosting school enrollment, which is approaching its 230-student capacity. “We are within six or seven students of being full,” Kehrley said.
The Blue Ribbon award was announced last September as the school was in the process of overcoming numerous challenges, including falling enrollment and a proposal to share a principal with another school. Clifford was able to keep a full time principal and, next September, the school will welcome the return of the Sixth Grade. There have been other changes, including new landscaping to brighten up the campus and the removal of some unnecessary chain link fences to create a more inviting look, Kehrley said.
But, high on agenda, is getting the campus ready for tomorrow’s 12:30 PM ceremony, which is open to the public. The school failed to win a grant to pay for a professionally painted mural to promote the school’s award winning status. So, school staff and parent volunteers have been contributing their time to finish the mural. “I’ve been buying them lunch everyday,” Kehrley said. “It’s worked out very well.”
Everyone -including school district and city leaders – will get to view the results during Friday’s ceremony.