Olive Peirce Middle School on Friday received its 2012 "California School to Watch" banner at a ceremony in its amphitheater.
The school was named one of four middle schools in San Diego County to receive the honor at the end of 2011.
Representatives of the state program joined students, staff, PTA and district board members on Friday to celebrate and present the banner.
A team from the program toured Olive Peirce in November.
"At the end of the visit, we all walked out of the campus and posed the question to ourselves, 'Is this a school where you would want your kids to be at?'" Irvin Howard, director of the state program, told the 900 students gathered on the grassy bank of the amphitheater.
"'Absolutely' was our answer," he said.
The state program is under the umbrella of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, which operates in 19 states. Olive Peirce teachers and administrators will go to Sacramento to get their state recognition and they'll also travel to Washington, D.C. to receive national recognition, along with more than 300 other chosen schools around the country, Howard said.
"There is a unique culture of caring here," Peter Murphy, executive director of the California League of Schools told the assembly.
California Schools to Watch—Taking Center Stage recognizes high performing middle schools that meet certain criteria. The program is sponsored by the state Department of Education, in conjunction with the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform and in partnership with California Middle Grades Alliance.
"The real heroes are the 900 faces in front of us today," Ramona Unified School District Superintendent Robert Graeff told the audience, referring to the students.
Students brought colorful college flags into the amphitheater and staff wore their college T-shirts, to encourage a college-bound environment at the event.