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Corona del Mar High School and Estancia High School with the California Distinguished School logo


Two Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) schools were recently named California Distinguished Schools by the California Department of Education. Corona del Mar (CdM) and Estancia High Schools join the 38 Orange County secondary schools listed among 293 schools statewide. 

The California Distinguished Schools Program recognizes elementary and secondary schools in alternate years.

"We're incredibly proud of their well-deserved recognition. Their dedication and hard work exemplify the spirit of excellence within our district. While celebrating their success, let us also acknowledge the outstanding contributions of all our schools, each playing a vital role in shaping the future of our students," said Superintendent Dr. Wesley Smith.

“This is the first time Estancia High School has received this honor, and we are excited for them to keep up the great work,” said Assistant Superintendant of Secondary Education Kerrie Torres. Estancia has been focused on making student learning visible in the classroom. Teachers have worked to ignite curiosity and develop critical thinking, leading to a learning environment rich in student dialogue and the cognitive exchange of ideas. The school also works to build connections to maximize student engagement and achievement. 

“This is a shared recognition that could not have been possible without the dedication of our teachers, the hard work of our students, and the support of our communities. I want every parent in our zone to know the quality educational experience their children can have in our schools,” said Estancia Principal Mike Halt.

Corona del Mar has focused on collaboration, best first instruction, and a commitment to daily meaningful engagement. The focus has been on creating an environment where all students feel comfortable sharing their voices and expanding peer-lead learning opportunities. The school supports relationship building through its rich offering of extracurricular activities and programs. This is the fourth time Corona del Mar has earned the distinction.

“Receiving the recognition as a CA Distinguished school is verification of the tremendous work of our classified and certificated staff who strive to provide the best educational experience for our students and community. Additionally, this award is a testimony to the level of student achievement throughout our entire school,” said CdM Principal Dr. Jake Haley.

Since 1985, the statewide program has recognized schools that demonstrate excellence and growth in academic achievement and positive school climate. Schools are selected for the honor based on data collected for the 2023 California School Dashboard, the state’s tool for measuring school accountability and improvement.  

The 2024 honorees will be celebrated at a ceremony at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim in May.

Visit our website to learn more about NMUSD’s award-winning schools.