BLAIR SCHOOL CELEBRATES 2011 CALIFORNIA DISTINGUISHED SCHOOL AWARD AND
DEDICATION OF NEW MIDDLE SCHOOL COMPLEX
June 15, 2011
Pasadena, CA – On Tuesday, the Blair School community celebrated the high school’s 2011 California Distinguished School award and the dedication of its new middle school campus. Students, teachers, parents, staff and civic officials gathered in the outdoor central courtyard of the campus to unfurl the Distinguished School flag, and to cut the ribbon in celebration of completion of the campus. Blair is the first high school in the district to win the California Distinguished School Award, which honors academic excellence and progress in closing the achievement gap.
“With rising test scores, a community committed to a vision of academic excellence for all students, and an academic program that is tailored to the learning and developmental needs of its students, Blair represents what is possible when teachers, parents and the community work together for our students,” said Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) Superintendent Edwin Diaz. “I encourage Blair to continue to develop the middle school program so that this school can become a model of public education for the state and for the country.”
Blair High School test scores in English Language Arts rose by 15 percent over the last five years, and seven percent this year. Math scores also rose by 8 percent this year, and 12% since 2006. The school serves 410 middle school students and 758 high school students.
In 2008, PUSD began to institute the Excellent Middle School reforms to better prepare students for success in high school, college and their careers. Schools were reorganized from seven different configurations into K-5 and 6-8th grades to better address the academic and developmental needs of 11 to 14-year-olds.
A key component of the vision for middle schools is that every student has access to a quality learning environment, and with the passage of Measure TT in November 2008, PUSD was able to rebuild Blair’s middle school according to this vision, and to fulfill a promise made to the Blair community under Measure Y.
The new campus can house up to 600 students. Located across the street from the high school, it is adjacent to a community center, library and park. Consisting of 34,930 square feet, the two-story classroom building includes 20 classrooms, four cutting-edge science laboratories, two science preparation rooms, flexible classroom configurations, food service and canopied lunch shelter areas, offices, play yards with a basketball court and communal gathering places.
The planning and design focuses on openness, connectivity and the flexible learning environments that meet the active and personalized learning needs of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders.
Community is fostered through circular architectural elements centered on learning. An outdoor circular courtyard serves as a “center of the city, and connects to all classrooms. Full height glass walls run the length of classrooms adjacent to the central courtyard. Additional communal gathering places serve as outdoor learning areas.
A tree court anchored by a Japanese maple tree has been named after Superintendent Diaz, and provides outdoor opportunities for smaller groups of students.
The site is designed to be environmentally sustainable and promotes stewardship of natural resources. The design won a silver rating in Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED), the internationally recognized green building certification system.
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