INDIO, Calif. - Four Coachella Valley elementary schools are now considered some of the best in the state. They were named as some of 424 California Distinguished Schools by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson Wednesday.
Martin Van Buren Elementary and Dr. Reynaldo J. Carreon Jr. Academy in Desert Sands Unified were awarded for student achievement and innovation.
"Our school is 99 percent poverty level, 98 percent Hispanic. It's hard work each and every day," said Van Buren Elementary Principal Melinda Wallace.
"I think it's good because our whole school got an award. All of the school worked so hard," said Van Buren 2nd grader Christian Cardenas, 8.
"It's been meaningful for us, we work so hard to get them out of their circumstances and an education they deserve."
Cielo Vista Charter and Rio Vista Elementary schools in the Palm Springs Unified School District were awarded for their physical activity and nutrition programs.
To determine which schools are distinguished schools, the state visits each qualified campus and validates data and teaching strategies that school has submitted.
"Everything from how our students walk in line, to school uniforms and structure of the day and overall positive school culture," said Wallace.
The award gives recognition and also sets an example for other districts.
"It's been meaningful for us, we work so hard to get them out of their circumstances and an education they deserve," said Kaitlyn Sanderson, a 5th grade teacher at Van Buren Elementary.