Three San Mateo County schools have garnered state honors for their work in raising student achievement.

Crocker Middle in the Hillsborough City School District, La Entrada Middle in the Las Lomitas district and Corte Madera Middle in the Portola Valley district have been named 2011 California Distinguished Schools.

They are among 97 public middle and high schools given that distinction by the state Department of Education.

"These schools are being recognized for attaining high levels of performance and sustained growth and for making significant progress in closing the academic achievement gap" among different groups of students, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a news release. "Becoming a Distinguished School is a direct reflection of the dedication, hard work and vision of each school's education community. They have succeeded despite a bleak economic environment and have endeavored to maintain their momentum and focus."

The schools will be feted during a May 20 ceremony at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. They join more than 5,300 others that have been honored since the recognition program began 25 years ago. Elementary and secondary schools are recognized during alternate years.

Cañada students win science scholarships

Seven students from Cañada College in Redwood City are set to transfer to four-year universities in the fall with scholarships from the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement program.

They each will receive a three-year, $10,500 National Science Foundation grant.

With that number of students, Cañada boasts more MESA scholarship recipients than any other community college in the state.

"This is absolutely fantastic," Cathy Lipe, coordinator of Cañada MESA, said in a news release. "Traditionally, we have a single student that will receive the transfer scholarship from statewide MESA. To have seven students receive it in the same year is amazing."

The students are:

  • Jenna Murphy, of Redwood City, a math major who will transfer to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

  • Moises Quiroz, of East Palo Alto, a mechanical engineering major who will transfer to Cal Poly

  • Alexander Ramos, of Redwood City, an electrical engineering major who is planning to transfer to UC Berkeley

  • Joy Franco, of Fremont, a mechanical engineering major who will transfer to either San Jose State or UC Berkeley

  • Chris Rodriguez, of Redwood City, a mechanical engineering major who will transfer to either San Jose State or UC San Diego

  • Ian Scott, of Pacifica, an electrical engineering major who will transfer to San Francisco State University

  • Marjorie Martinez, of Redwood City, a math major who will transfer to Cal Poly

    "Because we serve Silicon Valley -- a global center for technological research -- it's imperative that we provide quality educational opportunities for students in math, science and engineering," Cañada President Thomas Mohr said.

    About 40 students out of 160 applicants from 28 community colleges statewide have been given the transfer scholarship from California MESA, which provides academic support to disadvantaged students so they can ultimately earn four-year degrees in math, engineering or science.

    Chalk Talk is a regular feature with items about schools, students, teachers and administrators in San Mateo County. To submit an item, write to Chalk Talk, San Mateo County Times, 477 Ninth Ave., Suite 110, San Mateo, CA 94402; send a fax to 650-348-4446; or email education reporter Neil Gonzales at ngonzales@bayareanewsgroup.com. Also visit the Chalk Talk blog at www.ibabuzz.com/chalktalk.