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Clifton Middle School Recognized as a 2020 'School to Watch'

Clifton Middle School has been recognized as a 2020 School to Watch for its academic excellence, responsiveness to the needs of students, and commitment to helping every student achieve at a high level.

The honor, conferred by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform network, is Clifton's second designation as a School to Watch. Clifton was previously recognized in 2017, the same year it was named a California Gold Ribbon School.

"Clifton Middle School exemplifies Monrovia's commitment to inspire and challenge our students to become lifelong learners and realize their dreams," Board of Education President Rob Hammond said. "We are thrilled to see the hard work and dedication of Clifton educators recognized again. They truly deserve it."

Clifton maintains a focus on providing a safe and nurturing environment, encouraging students to share their voices, and contribute to the decision-making process. Teachers collaborate and share data while placing an emphasis on high expectations to maximize student potential.

Socio-emotional learning is embedded into lessons, aligning with Clifton's Courteous, Polite, and Respectful campaign. Required and elective classes provide a rigorous path to high school that also caters to student interests.

"Clifton does such a great job of preparing its students, which is a testament to the exceptional preparation and collaboration between administrators, faculty, and staff," Superintendent Dr. Katherine Thorossian said. "Clifton students are friendly, passionate, and on their way to becoming future leaders."

Clifton provides Honors classes in all core subjects, including an accelerated track that enables eighth-grade students to take a high school level course, Integrated Math I. Students can transition to Honors and AP classes at Monrovia High, including its Math and Science Academy (MASA).

Clifton's Spanish dual immersion program, launched in 2017, matriculated its first cohort in 2019. The program's popularity has resulted in one new elective class, Spanish II, and an increase in Spanish language books in the Clifton library.

Clifton's science and technology lab is a hub of technological activity, with students building and coding personal websites, robots and video games, eventually graduating to more advanced concepts like Javascript and 3D games. Multi-Tiered Systems of Support provide positive reinforcement, with students receiving Cub Cash for performing acts of kindness during the school day.

Students with special needs are placed in co-collaborative classes with both general and special education teachers, allowing them the opportunity to study with grade-level peers. Students at risk of falling behind are identified before the school year and participate in Jump Start conferences throughout the year to monitor their progress.

Clifton student leaders work to connect every student to the school community through the Renaissance Leadership program. Through a partnership with the Pasadena Humane Society and the SPCA, therapy dogs and their handlers regularly visit classrooms to provide students with a sense of calm.

"We like to think of Clifton as one big family, with everybody working together to achieve the goal of equity in education," Clifton Principal Jennifer Jackson said. "Being recognized as a School to Watch only motivates us to work even harder to provide the Monrovia community with the support and resources they need to ensure their children receive the high quality education they deserve."

Source: Monrovia School District press release

- Brad Haugaard

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