Woodbridge Receives Second Blue Ribbon Award for Diversity and Academic Excellence

Woodbridge High student and staff efforts toward academic achievement and demographic diversity have resulted in a second National Blue Ribbon award following the hardships of the Covid-19 pandemic

In 1987 Woodbridge High won its first national blue ribbon award. At the time President Ronald Reagan said, “The credit belongs to the administrators who provided the leadership, the parents who got involved, the teachers who inspired, and the students who studied,” while presenting the award to representatives of the schools nominated for receiving the blue ribbon. 

Now, almost 35 years later, Woodbridge High has gone through many staff changes and evolved over time, but the drive for excellence and representation has persisted, and has been expanded by the current administration following the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to the award win this year.

During the press release for the national blue ribbon award, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said, “I applaud all the honorees for the 2022 National Blue Ribbon Schools Award for creating vibrant, welcoming, and affirming school communities where students can learn, grow, reach their potential, and achieve their dreams.”

Principal Christopher Krebs agrees. “One of our priorities has been supporting all students,” Krebs said. “The blue ribbon award, the reason that we won it, really, is our focus on equity, our focus on supporting all students on this campus, and we’re really proud of that.” Krebs said. “This is [an award] you actually have to earn, and it’s based on some pretty strict criteria.” 

According to the official blue ribbon award website, the award requires standardized test scores within the top 15% as well as the nominee school being within the top 15% graduation rate state-wide. On top of the high test standards, they have to apply for all sub-groups. 

“There’s four categories: your ELA test scores, your Math test scores, your graduation rate, and if you have a college and career readiness path,” Krebs said. “To be eligible, all of your subgroups have to be in the 40% of those four categories.” Sub-groups are a formal term for the different diverse groups of students on campus, evaluating how well different ethnicities, genders, special education students and English language learners perform in standardized test scores. “Because those populations can be smaller, the odds that you get all of those in there is really difficult,”  Krebs said. 

“Every year the U.S. Department of Education seeks out and celebrates great American schools, schools demonstrating that all students can achieve to high levels,” according to the national blue ribbon archive website. The blue ribbon award not only represents academic prowess but one with a diverse student body. 

Woodbridge High celebrates its Blue Ribbon Award, proudly displayed in front of the Administration building. (Ocean Pham)

Irvine is no stranger to these awards. During the first year of national blue ribbon awards, 1982, Venado Middle in Irvine earned two awards due to the campus’s diversity and high test scores. Students at Woodbridge High are well aware of the award’s meaning and educational championing; Golden Arrow reported on the award in 1987.

“The award really means alot to me as a student, because more generally it makes me proud of the nurturing and successful environment we have made at Woodbridge,” said Woodbridge High ASB member and senior Brandon Kim. “In my personal experience, I’ve felt that almost every teacher I have had at Woodbridge has been so accommodating and made it so clear that they care and that they are here for us, which honestly means so much to me,” Kim said. 

Woodbridge High was established in 1980, and won its second National Blue Ribbon Award this year in 2022. (Ocean Pham)

Kim shared the same consensus as the blue ribbon panel: Woodbridge’s excellence stretched to everyone and accommodated for every student on campus. “[Teachers have a]  general causal understanding and acceptance of students of diverse backgrounds [which] contributes massively to helping students feel more comfortable on campus,” Kim said when asked about how he thought Woodbridge could have achieved the prestigious award.

Students also agree that Woodbridge High’s blue ribbon win is something to be celebrated. “[The blue ribbon award] shows that Woodbridge is a place that can help anyone succeed,” Kim said. 

The national blue ribbon awards are given every year, although schools across the country are only eligible for nomination once every five years. While things may change over that time, the 2022 award proves Woodbridge High still, and has always been, a place of academic excellence for everyone on its campus. Future awards may be within the staff, administration and student’s grasp.

Christopher Krebs and Brooke Vick accept a plaque on behalf of Woodbridge High. (Photo courtesy of Brooke Vick.)