Improving students' overall academic success was a key component in two local elementary schools receiving 2014 California Distinguished Schools' awards this week.
Joaquin Miller and R.L. Stevenson elementary schools were also each presented an additional distinction honoring their "exemplary" arts programs, a nod that only 13 schools in the entire state won out of the 424 that earned the awards.
"I'm really proud of our students. The [award] respects all of the hard work that they've done," said Miller Principal Judy Hession, who added that the teachers' dedication and parents' involvement were also part of the school's success.
"You can't do it by yourself. We all need each other to make it successful," she said.
The state award recognizes schools that increase students' achievement.
Leadership at both schools cited the arts programs available to students as part of the reason they were honored for that as well.
At Miller Elementary, Hession said she believes the school's strength is in its theater arts program, which has won support with grants provided by 24th Street Theatre, a Los Angeles-based organization that helps train educators in producing theatrical productions.