Editorial: Schools stand tall amid turmoil

WThe news Tuesday that seven schools in San Mateo County had received a prestigious state honor serves to remind us of the success stories that are occurring every day in our classrooms.

North Star Academy, Ormondale School, Las Lomitas Elementary School, Encinal School, Central Elementary School, Green Hills Elementary School and Portola Elementary School were named “Distinguished Schools” by the state Education Department on Tuesday, an honor bestowed on 377 schools in the state.

In San Francisco, the symbolic award shines a deserved spotlight on two schools that have not been generally regarded as among The City’s best, Sunset and Lafayette elementary schools.

That is likely to change, as is the relatively low number of parents who request the Westside schools each year during the school district’s

enrollment process. Last year only about 150 parents requested a place for their children in each of the two schools, combined with the more than 800 who requested spots at other excellent but better-known schools in The City.

With labor disputes, threats of teacher strikes, school closures and school board politics that often seem to overlook the needs of kids, it would have been easy for San Francisco students to lose faith or focus.

The Distinguished Schools honor is a tribute to the students, teachers, parents and administrators at our nine local schools who have quietly gone about the business of education and made our communities proud.

A thrilling new beginning for conservatory

After five decades on Ortega Street, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and its young musicians bade farewell to the school’s longtime home on Sunday with a farewell concert. While there are myriad memories at the site, the mood was more sweet than bitter as the school moves across town to its brand-new home on Oak Street, in Civic Center.

Conservatory President Colin Murdoch said it best: “It’s a day with a huge range of emotions. I’m tremendously attached to the building and programs here, but I could not be more excited about the new space.”

There’s good reason for that. The new campus will feature state-of-the art acoustical design, and it will put the conservatory in a more accessible location near The City’s performing arts institutions like the War Memorial Opera House and Davies Symphony Hall. Over the years, towering musical figures such as Yo–Yo Ma and Placido Domingo have taught at the school or visited. With students and faculty scheduled to open the new school in the fall, the conservatory is poised to make new memories in its impressive new home.

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