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California, Pennsylvania, and Virginia School Districts Earn Top National Honors in 2013 Magna Awards

National award program recognizes school districts for outstanding programs that advance student learning and encourage community involvement in schools.

ALEXANDRIA, Va., April 3, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania's Derry Township School District, Virginia's Albemarle County Public Schools, and California's Fontana Unified School District have been named the grand prize winners in the American School Board Journal's (ASBJ) 19th annual Magna Awards program.

The Magna Awards, supported by Sodexo, recognize districts across the country for outstanding programs that advance student learning and encourage community involvement in schools. This year's three grand prize, 15 first place, and 15 honorable mention winners were selected from three enrollment categories: under 5,000 students, 5,000 to 20,000 students, and over 20,000 students. Each of the grand prize winning school districts will receive a $4,000 contribution from Sodexo on April 14, during Sunday's General Session at NSBA's 73rd Annual Conference in San Diego.

"The Magna Awards showcase the great work going on in local school districts across the country to increase student achievement and success," said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of NSBA. "This year's Magna Awards recipients are national models that school leaders can learn from. NSBA commends Sodexo for its continuing support of this program and its goal of highlighting outstanding public school achievements."                                                                 

"Just like the school districts recognized in the annual Magna Awards program, Sodexo supports student achievement," said Steve Dunmore, President of Sodexo Education-Schools. "As a partner in education, Sodexo realizes that it is vitally important to call attention to and support school districts that go above and beyond to enrich the learning environment for its students.  Therefore, we are proud to sponsor the Magna Awards again this year."

Here is information on the grand prize winners:

  • The Derry Township School District, in Hershey, Pa., earned the grand prize in the under 5,000 enrollment category for its COCOA Principles program which aims to prepare students to be global citizens. COCOA Principles, which stands for Community Opportunity Citizenship Ownership Academics, has encouraged the entire community, not just students, to be more inclusive, respectful, and responsible citizens. Students seen reflecting the program's principles are nominated for awards, and high school graduation projects must identify the COCOA principle the student is modeling.
  • Albemarle County Public Schools, in Charlottesville, Va., is being honored as the grand prize winner in the 5,000 to 20,000 enrollment category for M-Cubed: Math, Men and Mission, a program developed to improve the academic achievement of African-American male students and encourage them to enroll in higher level high school math classes. The program starts with a two-week summer academy for upper elementary and middle school students but extends year-round with mentoring and academic support from the 100 Black Men of Central Virginia, a community group.
  • In the over 20,000 enrollment category, the Fontana Unified School District, in Fontana, Calif., is the grand prize winner. The Fontana Leadership Intervention Program (FLIP) focuses on keeping middle and high school students in school and out of the juvenile justice system. FLIP, which is run and funded by a non-profit corporation, offers students classes covering topics such as violence prevention, drug and alcohol resistance, and ethics. Students referred to the program also participate in community projects and their parents must take parenting classes. Since the program's inception there has been a significant decline in behavior issues, including truancy and alcohol and drugs incidents, at a high school, and bullying incidents at a middle school.

ASBJ initiated the Magna Awards in 1995 to recognize school boards for taking bold and innovative steps to improve their educational programs. An independent panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators selected the winners from nearly 300 submissions.

The 2013 winners are highlighted in a special section in the May issue of ASBJ and will be formally recognized on Saturday, April 13, at the Best Practices for School Leaders Luncheon, which is part of NSBA's 73rd Annual Conference.

In addition to the ASBJ special section, the districts' winning entries will be posted on the Magna Awards website and added to the program's searchable best practices database. Both can be found at www.asbj.com/magna.

2013 Magna Award Winners:

Grand prize winners:
Derry Township School District, Hershey, Pa. less than 5,000 students,
Albemarle County Public Schools, Charlottesville, Va. 5,000 to 20,000 students
Fontana Unified School District, Fontana, Calif. more than 20,000 students

First place winners under 5,000 students
Bergenfield Public Schools, Bergenfield, N.J.
Eminence Independent Schools, Eminence, Ky.
Northwest Arctic Borough School District, Kotzebue, Alaska
Richmond Community Schools, Richmond, Ind.
Upper St. Clair School District, Upper St. Clair, Pa.

First place winners 5,000 to 20,000 students
Granville County Schools, Oxford, N.C.
Kearney Public Schools, Kearney, Neb.
Livingston Public Schools, Livingston, N.J.
Roanoke City Public Schools, Roanoke, Va.
Tuscaloosa City Schools, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

First place winners over 20,000 students
Alamance-Burlington School System, Burlington, N.C. – 2 programs
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Charlotte, N.C.
Fulton County School System, Atlanta, Ga.
McAllen Independent School District, McAllen, Texas

Honorable mentions under 5,000 students
Columbia Heights Public Schools, Columbia Heights, Minn.
Gilford School District, Gilford, N.H.
Jenkins Independent School District, Jenkins, Ky.
Monadnock Regional School District, Supervisory Administrative Unit 93, Swanzey, N.H.
Taylor County School District, Campbellsville, Ky.

Honorable mentions 5,000 to 20,000 students
Cave Creek Unified School District #93, Cave Creek, Ariz.
Creighton School District #14, Phoenix, Ariz.
Hanover County Public Schools, Ashland, Va.
Kenton County School District, Fort Wright, Ky.
Township High School District 214, Arlington Heights, Ill.

Honorable mentions over 20,000 students
Arlington Public Schools, Arlington, Va.
Brevard Public Schools, Viera, Fla.
Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, Houston, Texas
Houston Independent School District, Houston, Texas
Richardson Independent School District, Richardson, Texas

American School Board Journal
American School Board Journal (www.asbj.com), published monthly by the National School Boards Association (www.nsba.org), serves almost 40,000 school board members and top-level administrators from districts across the nation. The K-12 magazine, published continuously since 1891, has won 17 national honors for education reporting and design since 2006.

Sodexo in North America
Sodexo, Inc. (www.sodexoUSA.com), leading Quality of Life services company in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, delivers On-site Services in Corporate, Education, Health Care, Government, and Remote Site segments, as well as Benefits and Rewards Services and Personal and Home Services. Sodexo, Inc., headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md., funds all administrative costs for the Sodexo Foundation (www.SodexoFoundation.org), an independent charitable organization that, since its founding in 1999, has made more than $17 million in grants to end childhood hunger in America. Visit the corporate blog at blogs.sodexousa.com.

Sodexo supports achievement by providing expert solutions that improve the quality of life for the students, staff, and communities we serve. Sodexo does this by designing, managing, and delivering services that keep people healthy, safe, and productive while also enriching the learning environment. Sodexo helps the nation's schools be vibrant contributors to the success of their communities.

SOURCE National School Board Association

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