2016-11-18 / Schools

Vista brings home the Blue Ribbon

Campus is third SVUSD school to win national award
By Michael Aushenker


‘PUT A RIBBON ON IT’—The Vista Rockettes, a team of teachers led by Laura Miner, perform “All the Vista Eagles” during a Nov. 10 special assembly to celebrate the elementary school’s recent National Blue Ribbon School Award win. 
RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers ‘PUT A RIBBON ON IT’—The Vista Rockettes, a team of teachers led by Laura Miner, perform “All the Vista Eagles” during a Nov. 10 special assembly to celebrate the elementary school’s recent National Blue Ribbon School Award win. RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers When Vista Fundamental Elementary School celebrated its National Blue Ribbon School Award win with a special assembly last week, it was more than just a big score for the school.

Part victory lap, part feather in SVUSD’s cap and part homecoming party for Vista Principal Julie Ellis, Superintendent

Jason Peplinski and Director of Elementary Education Kathleen Roth—all freshly returned from Washington, D.C., where they accepted the Department of Education-issued award honoring the school for its overall academic excellence — the Nov. 10 program on the school’s playground roused Vista’s 670 kids.

“It is an honor to bring this award home,” Ellis told her pupils from the stage.


RHYMES WITH SPIRIT— Nico Vacca and fellow student council officers rap “Blue and Yellow” during the National Blue Ribbon School Award celebration Nov. 10 at Vista Fundamental Elementary School. The Wisteria Street campus is the third SVUSD school in the district to receive the designation. 
RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers RHYMES WITH SPIRIT— Nico Vacca and fellow student council officers rap “Blue and Yellow” during the National Blue Ribbon School Award celebration Nov. 10 at Vista Fundamental Elementary School. The Wisteria Street campus is the third SVUSD school in the district to receive the designation. RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers “This is a big deal,” Roth shouted, eliciting cheers.

It is indeed, considering that Vista is just the third SVUSD school ever to win the prestigious

Blue Ribbon award. The other two were Hollow Hills Fundamental Elementary School, which won in 1998 and 2005, and Valley View Middle School in 1999.

Vista was also among just three Ventura County schools that received the award in 2016 and one of 279 nationwide.

“It is on a par with an actor winning an Academy Award or a scientist winning a Nobel Prize,” school board president Scott Blough said from the stage.

Spotted stage-side at the event were Dan Houghton and Ron Todo, associate superintendents; Amanda Hogan, Simi Educators Association president; and Anthony Pennay, director of the Reagan Library’s presidential learning center.

“This school stands above most schools throughout the state of California,” said Mayor Bob Huber, who also attended the celebration.

‘Put a ribbon on it!’

They may be called the Eagles, but the Vista kids were proud as peacocks Nov. 10.

After “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Pledge of Allegiance, kids and teachers alike delivered entertainment showcasing school spirit.

Vista student officers Trevor Hicks, Nico Vacca, Tyler Lumpkin and Corey Custodio spit verses to the tune of Wiz Khalifa’s rap hit “Black and Yellow,” instead chanting “Blue and Yellow,” the school colors.

Later, the educators sang and danced as the Vista Rockettes. Led by sixth-grade teacher Laura Miner, they got down to “All the Vista Eagles,” an interpolation of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” with the chorus, “Put a ribbon on it!”

The school also welcomed back former teachers Val Gray, Roxanne Schwarze, Charlotte Kasten and Karen Cunningham.

Recently retired Irene Zelman, who traveled from her new home in Walnut Creek, Calif., returned to lead former students in “Amazing Grace” on recorders.

It was Zelman who last year tackled the heady Blue Ribbon application process on behalf of Vista.

“It is so wonderful to be back,” she said, shouting out to the students. “You are looking good out there.”

The loudest audience fanfare erupted for Roth, who had transformed Vista into a STEM school in 2010 when she was principal of the campus.

“It’s not about what’s done today or (before), it’s the legacy of the past, of the present and those who come in the future,” Roth told the Acorn after the assembly.

Elizabeth Hicks, whose son Trevor is student council president, said what makes Vista a winner is how faculty engages pupils and moms and dads alike.

“They really encourage parents to be involved,” she said.

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