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MCHS Named 2019 California Distinguished School

Middle College High School was one of 162 middle and high schools statewide honored as a 2019 Distinguished School on Monday by the California Department of Education.

The Panthers were recognized for their unique approach in assisting historically underserved students become first-generation college students with high school and college courses set on a college campus.

"Middle College provides students and their families in the West Contra Costa Unified District the opportunity to see, feel, and experience college," WCCUSD Superintendent Matthew Duffy said. "The recognition is a fantastic reflection of the hard work by the staff, students, and families at Middle College to ensure that every student is college and career ready."

In collaboration with Contra Costa College, Middle College designed a program focused on four core principles: High School and Collaboration, Comprehensive Academic Support, College and Career Academic Alignment and Continuous Organizational Improvement.

"This means a lot to our program and this award is a reflection of the commitment and hard work of all stakeholders involved," Middle College Principal Finy Prak said. "I would like to commend the MCHS teachers, staff, families and most of all, MCHS students for their dedication because this success belongs to them. My hope is that we continue to thrive as a program so that we can continue to benefit future students. It is a privilege to be the principal of MCHS and I am humbled to serve in this capacity."

The Distinguished School Program returned last year after a three-year hiatus and replaced the California Gold Ribbons Schools Program. Middle College was one of just three high schools in Contra Costa County to receive the recognition, and it had previously been named a Gold Ribbon winner.

The Distinguished Schools Program honors elementary and secondary schools in alternate years, and schools were selected based on their on their performance and progress on the state indicators as described on the California School Dashboard. Indicators include test scores, suspension rates, and graduation rates. Schools were also eligible to apply for a California Exemplary Program Award in Arts Education, Physical Activity and Nutrition Education, or Career Technical Education—which will be announced at a later time.

Middle College High School is one of 16 dual enrollment schools in the California Coalition Dedicated to to Dual Enrollment (CCEMC). Students at Middle College are able to dual enroll in both college and high school courses. The Cougars have a 95 percent college acceptance rate and 62 percent of their graduates complete high school with an associates degree. Last year, Middle College had 70 of its 71 seniors move onto to college with the lone exception joining the military.

This is the second consecutive year that a West Contra Costa Unified School District school has been honored with the Distinguished School recognition. Last year, Kensington Elementary was also recognized as a 2018 Distinguished School.

"I would like to commend these schools for fighting for a better future for our students, closing achievement gaps, and improving academic performance," California State Superintendent of Schools Tony Thurmond said in a release. "Thanks to teachers, administrators, classified employees, and parents working together, these schools meet the needs of all of their students, provide high-quality educational experiences, and put kids on a pathway to great careers."

For more information about Middle College, you can attend its information night from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. this Thursday, Feb. 28 at Contra Costa College or you can visit the website.