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steve-7thgrade.jpgBy Steve Strichart
Hi, everyone! I am taking over Neena’s column this week to bring your attention to a Long Beach Unified School District press release we received at the paper.
Hill Classical Middle School is one of only five schools statewide that will be honored with the Dispelling the Myth Award from The Education Trust-West. The awards go to some of the highest performing and most improved schools in California. The purpose of the awards is to share what works in raising student achievement for all groups of students, including disadvantaged students.
Seven years ago, the state of California threatened to take over Hill Middle School if it did not improve student achievement. Since then, it has won the highly coveted National Blue Ribbon Award.
In recent years, Hill has emphasized writing school-wide and has implemented Malcolm Baldrige problem-solving strategies that are used by some of the nation’s most successful businesses. The school also implemented a Safe and Civil Schools model that has minimized tardies and created a calm atmosphere. Two months ago, this Safe and Civil School effort earned the coveted Golden Bell Award, the highest state honor from the California School Board Association.
Reading about all the wonderful strides Hill Classical Middle School has achieved in the last few years has got to be a point of pride with the Long Beach Unified School District, the teachers, the parents and all the students that attend Hill. It also brings back some fond memories for me.
You see, back in 1961, Hill Junior High School was a brand new facility and opened with that school year. I was in seventh grade. In fact, I was in the first graduating class to have attended all three years there.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The first day of school was the first for the students, teachers and staff. We were all new! The name of the school was Walter B. Hill Junior High School, and it served seventh, eighth and ninth grades. Being the first year, we didn’t have school colors, a mascot or name for the yearbook. The school colors were chosen for us, blue and white. I think that was because all gym clothes in all the schools were white shirts and blue shorts. That made it easy on the sports uniform issue. Suggestions for mascot and yearbook names were presented by students and the most popular were put to a vote. When all was said and done, we were the Hill Huskies and the yearbook was called the Caduceus. By the way, the Caduceus is the symbol used by the medical profession— originally an olive branch with two snakes wound around it and wings at the top— so chosen to honor Dr. Hill, our namesake.
So there it is… some of my memories of Walter B. Hill Junior High School, now known as Hill Classical Middle School. Congratulations to Hill on a very successful program. Keep up the good work.

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Serving Bixby Knolls, California Heights, Los Cerritos, Wrigley and Signal Hill
Thoughts from the Associate Publisher