Ghidotti named a CA Distinguished School |

Ghidotti named a CA Distinguished School

Ghidotti Early College High School has been named a 2021 California Distinguished School.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced Tuesday that an additional 121 California schools would be awarded the honor, after the state Department of Education had announced an original 102 awardees in March.

Noah Levinson, principal at Ghidotti Early College High School, said he reacted with “elation and surprise and shock” upon finding out the school had been named to the list.

“I was not prepared for it, but I was elated and just honored, and really proud of my school,” said Levinson.

Usually, said Levinson, the state identifies schools as nominees for the award, followed by those nominated schools applying for the award.

The process was modified this year in response to the pandemic, and schools were instead identified directly for the award based on indicators of performance and progress, including test scores, suspension rates, and conditions and climate, according to a state Department of Education release.

Levinson said Ghidotti students have maintained a low suspension and absence rate, while consistently excelling in state standardized testing.

According to Levinson, the school ranks third in the state when it comes to the CASPP, or California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, and has in the past achieved the first place rank.

“It’s an indicator that we’re doing what our mission is,” said Levinson on the school’s performance in that area. “We’re getting students ready for life after high school.”

Levinson added that, while Ghidotti has been “an academically focused school” since its inception in 2006 — a core part of its academic model being the students’ attendance of college classes through Sierra College — it has within the past five years grown its emphasis on students’ “social emotional learning” as well.

Nevada Joint Union High School District Superintendent Brett McFadden said the news that Ghidotti had been awarded this honor was particularly significant amid a pandemic, and called it “one of the best surprises we’ve had this year, in a year filled with challenges and a lot of bad surprises.”

“I was surprised, but also not completely surprised, just because of the nature of the work they do there and what’s been happening there,” said McFadden. “But it is a testament to that staff and that leadership of that high school of how hard they’ve worked.”

Prior to this year, the last time a Nevada County school was named a California Distinguished School was Clear Creek Elementary School in 2018.

The last time Ghidotti Early College High School had been named to this list was alongside Nevada Union High School and Pleasant Valley Elementary School in 2013.

Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at

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