By Jim Tortolano
Alonzo Cook founded Garden Grove in 1874, and the elementary school named after him made has made history again as it recently was named a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.
Faculty, students and others at Cook School, located at 9802 Woodbury Rd. in Garden Grove, held a celebration Friday of the honor that was accorded to only three schools in Orange County. Fewer than 300 schools across the nation receive this award.
“This recognition of excellence belongs to every one of us,” said Principal Sandy Ishii. “No school achieves this level of success without the support of teachers, parents, the district and our community members, and most importantly, the hard work of you, our student scholars.”
The Blue Ribbon School program, created in 1982, is intended to honor schools which have achieved high levels of performance or made significant improvements in “closing the gap” in achievement among student groups. One-third of the schools nominated for this national award by their state must have a student population of at least 40 percent from “disadvantaged backgrounds.”
Phuong Nguyen, father of a Cook student, sang “The Star Spangled Banner” and the Cook choir, directed by Michelle Son, performed “America the Beautiful.”
In addition to remarks from grown-ups, the crowd heard from pupils.
“Why is Cook great? When I came to Cook for the first time, I felt excited and nervous,” said Fernando Angeles, a third-grader. “Everyone made me feel very special and welcome. Every teacher I have had has been helpful, cheerful and willing to teach.”
On hand for the event was the Bolsa Grande High School band and color guard, as well as local dignitaries including members of the Garden Grove Unified School District Board of Education, Superintendent Gabriela Mafi, Garden Grove Mayor Steve Jones, Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do and state Senator Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove).