Diegueño Middle School named a 2021 California Distinguished School

The Diegueño Middle School campus.

The California Department of Education has named Diegueño Middle School as an honoree for the 2021 California Distinguished Schools Program. Diegueño, the school in the Village Park neighborhood of Encinitas, is being honored for the fourth time since the California Distinguished Schools Program began in 1986.

Sponsored by the California Department of Education (CDE) and presented by California Casualty, the Distinguished Schools Program recognizes schools for their excellent work in one of two categories: closing the achievement gap and achieving exceptional student performance.

Diegueño Middle School Principal Cara Dolnik
Diegueño Middle School Principal Cara Dolnik

“Diegueño Middle School staff have focused on student engagement and support as part of our initiative to implement a system of supports for all students to be successful,” said Principal Cara Dolnik. “The collaboration of our entire staff to focus on the academic, behavioral and social-emotional needs of our students has built a team of educators who are dedicated to serving our student community. Their hard work shows in the progress we made even during such a challenging year. I am so proud for our entire Cougar community to receive this honorable recognition.”

The CDE awards eligible schools based on performance and progress on state indicators specified on the California School Dashboard, the state’s accountability and continuous improvement system. Indicators include test scores, suspension rates, and conditions and climate. This year’s slate of Distinguished Schools were able to achieve progress and improvement amid the backdrop of uncertainty and hardship facing all California schools this past year.

“We’re extremely proud of the work the administration and staff at Diegueño have done,” said SDUHSD Superintendent Robert Haley. “This recognition is a testament to what Principal Cara Dolnik and her team have accomplished not just in a difficult and unprecedented year like 2020-21 has been, but also to the supports and services that have been set up and implemented to make a school community flourish regardless of any unforeseen circumstances.”

San Dieguito Union High School District Distinguished School Honorees

1986 – Torrey Pines High School (1)

1990 – Earl Warren Junior High (1), San Dieguito High School Academy (1)

1992 – Earl Warren Junior High (2)

1996 – Oak Crest Middle School (1), Torrey Pines High School (2)

1999 - Diegueño Middle School (1), La Costa Canyon High School (1), San Dieguito High School Academy (2)

2001 – Oak Crest Middle School (2)

2003 – Carmel Valley Middle School (1), Diegueño Middle School (2), Earl Warren Middle School (3)

2005 – San Dieguito High School Academy (3)

2007 – La Costa Canyon High School (2)

2009 – Carmel Valley Middle School (2), Earl Warren Middle School (4)

2011 – Diegueño Middle School (3), San Dieguito High School Academy (4)

2013 – Carmel Valley Middle School (3), Earl Warren Middle School (5)

2015 – Oak Crest Middle School (3) *

2021 – Diegueño Middle School (4)

* From 2015-17, California recognized schools that demonstrated exemplary achievement with the “California Gold Ribbon Schools” program.