Three Walnut Creek schools recently received the state's highest education honor.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson named 424 public elementary schools as California Distinguished Schools. And some Walnut Creek schools made the cut, for their strong commitment and innovative approaches to improving student academic achievement.

"I applaud these strong, thriving schools that are making such impressive strides in preparing their students for continued success," Torlakson said in a news release. "This award is well-deserved by these school communities for their enduring dedication to high standards, hard work and unwavering support."

Valle Verde Elementary, Walnut Acres Elementary and Walnut Heights Elementary were all named 2014 Distinguished Schools.

The 2014 California Distinguished Schools Program focuses on California's students' right to an equitable and rigorous education, and recognizes those schools that have made progress in narrowing the academic achievement gap.

To apply for distinguished school honors, schools must meet the criteria and then the California Department of Education invites them to apply. The process consists of a written application, which includes a comprehensive description of two of the school's signature practices and a county-led site validation review process.

Schools selected as California Distinguished Schools will be honored in early June during regional award ceremonies.

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    Educators, workers and involved parents, get ready to thank the academy.

    In collaboration with the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, the Mt. Diablo Education Association will hold its second "Academy Awards" event from 5 to 9 p.m. May 15 at Centre Concord.

    "The purpose of the Academy Awards is to recognize the great work being done throughout MDUSD by teachers, administrators, classified employees, parent volunteers, and volunteer organizations," according to Guy Moore, president of the education association in an e-mail newsletter sent to members. "Our secondary purpose is to raise seed money to start a foundation to support elementary art throughout MDUSD."

    Last year more than 250 came to the event, which was served by culinary students from Mt. Diablo High School. This year, Cindy Gershen of Sunrise Catering and Sunrise Bistro -- who teaches at Mt. Diablo High -- will cater and again culinary students will serve.

    The cost is $25 per ticket. For more information go to www.ourmdea.org

    Submit School Notes items to enardi@bayareanewsgroup.com. Contact Elisabeth Nardi at 925-952-2617.