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United States Department of Education Announces Balboa Gifted/High Ability Magnet Elementary School As a 2021 Blue Ribbon School (9-23-21)

News Release

CONTACT: Shannon Haber


September 23, 2021

 United States Department of Education Announces Balboa Gifted/High Ability Magnet Elementary School As a 2021 Blue Ribbon School

National Recognition As Exemplary High-Performing School

LOS ANGELES (September 23, 2021) -- Balboa Gifted/High Ability Magnet Elementary School, located in Northridge, CA, has been named a 2021 National Blue Ribbon School for outstanding overall academic performance, according to a United States Department of Education announcement released this week.

 Recognized as one of the state’s highest-performing schools, this 748-student magnet was singled out in part because of the outstanding distance learning practices that the school adopted during the closure of school campuses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. For 39 years, the United States Secretary of Education has identified schools showing exemplary achievement in student outcomes, either among groups that are traditionally lower performing or as a whole school. 

Schools are recognized based on schoolwide student scores, scores for various student groups and graduation rates. They are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or national tests. Both public and private schools are eligible for selection and span all grade levels. Nominations are made by senior officials in each state. 

“Congratulations to the students, teachers, staff, principal and families for your well-deserved national recognition,” Interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly said. “Even in the most challenging of times, the school community at Balboa Gifted/High Ability Magnet has worked together to create an excellent learning environment, using technology and innovative ways, for our students.” 

“This is confirmation of the hard work of our school, our staff, our scholars and our parent community,” Balboa Gifted/High Ability Magnet Principal Christine Chun said. “Our teachers saw this as an opportunity to learn, and from wherever they started, we collaborated. Teaching in person is our craft, which we do so well. We refine practices to meet students’ needs. But trying to deliver instruction over Zoom called for a whole different set of skills. We taught our students to work on having a growth mindset and we as educators had to practice it daily during distance learning."

Balboa Gifted/High Ability Magnet was first recognized as a Blue Ribbon School in 1988 and is also a California Distinguished School. Open to eligible students throughout Los Angeles Unified, the school has enrolled students from 40 different zip codes.

“I am so proud of Balboa Gifted/High Ability Magnet Elementary School for being distinguished as a National Blue Ribbon School,” Board Member Scott M. Schmerelson said. “It is through the efforts and commitment of the principal, teachers, staff and students that have made this a model school. Our students, family and school leaders should beam with pride over this achievement. Congratulations!”

“Congratulations to Balboa Gifted/High Ability Magnet Elementary School,” Board President Kelly Gonez said. “Los Angeles Unified is proud to offer such excellent programs throughout our district, and I celebrate the educators, parents and students for the hard work that has led to this well-deserved recognition as a 2021 National Blue Ribbon School.”

“Congratulations to everyone at Balboa Magnet Elementary,” Board Vice President Nick Melvoin said. “This national honor is a testament to the dedication and resilience of the Balboa community that helped keep students engaged and learning from afar during the pandemic. We are proud to see this successful program recognized for its hard work and achievements, especially in times of crisis.” 

“This National Blue Ribbon recognition for Balboa Gifted/High Achieving Magnet School confirms the excellence that is already well-known in Los Angeles Unified,” Board Member George J. McKenna III said. “It is also testament to our excellent magnet program, which grew out of a commitment to student integration. Students from all over this sprawling district attend Balboa Magnet, and benefit from the outstanding instructional program.”

“Felicidades to all students, staff and leaders on this achievement and recognition,” Board Member Mónica García said. “My wish is for all schools at Los Angeles Unified to be high-performing and to invest equally in each of our students so that no child gets left behind.”

“We're not only proud of Balboa Gifted/High Ability Magnet Elementary School, but inspired by their achievement as well,” Board Member Jackie Goldberg said. “In the face of the tremendous challenges that came with the pandemic closures, this school's leadership triumphed to create outstanding distance learning practices that can serve as a model for schools everywhere. This school has long been known for high excellence and they continue to impress.”

“Congratulations to the Balboa Gifted/High Ability Magnet’s staff, students and families recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School,” Local District Northwest Superintendent Joseph Nacorda said. “The exemplary teaching and learning happening at Balboa demonstrates the commitment and collaboration of the Balboa community to provide a safe, welcoming and engaging learning experience despite the circumstances to ensure that students are learning and excelling to their fullest potential.” 

Principal Chun, formerly a Los Angeles Unified magnet student, started at Balboa Gifted/High Ability Magnet in 1997 as a teacher’s aide and served as a teacher and in administrative roles before leaving to work for two years at another school. She returned in 2019 as principal. “I’ve come full circle,” she continued. “The magnet system really offers those students who have a specialized interest, an opportunity to expand their learning. At our school, the emphasis is on academics.” 

To learn more about magnet programs, please visit, The Choices enrollment application period begins on Friday, October 1. For more information, go to