Kraemer and Tuffree Middle Schools named 2021 California Distinguished School

Kraemer and Tuffree CA distinguished schools.

The Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD) is pleased to announce that Kraemer and Tuffree Middle Schools in Placentia were recently named 2021 California Distinguished School, the state’s top award for campuses.

“On behalf of the Board of Education, congratulations to Kraemer and Tuffree Middle Schools on this tremendous accomplishment,” PYLUSD Superintendent Dr. James Elsasser shared. “This acknowledgement affirms the unwavering efforts and commitment of our teachers, classified staff, and administrators in giving their best on behalf of students each and every day. We are so proud of their outstanding work.”

Amid the unprecedented school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the California Department of Education (CDE) shared that this recognition is especially remarkable. Distinguished Schools were identified and awarded based on performance and progress on state indicators specified on the California School Dashboard, the state’s accountability and continuous improvement system. Indicators included test scores, suspension rates, and conditions and climate. Awarded schools represent examples of not just excellent teaching, learning, and collaboration, but also highly successful, data-driven school efforts ranging from professional development to positive behavior intervention. The award rotates each year between elementary schools and secondary schools.

This is Kraemer Middle School’s first California Distinguished School Award; however, the Cubs received the state’s comparable Gold Ribbon School Award in 2015. From 2015 to 2017, California recognized schools that demonstrated exemplary achievements with the California Gold Ribbon Schools Program rather than the Distinguished Schools program, which returned in 2018 after a three-year pause while California transitioned to its new assessment and accountability system, the California School Dashboard.

On that note, Principal Michael Young shared: “Kraemer Middle School continues to thrive and succeed by putting students first. Our staff, students, and parents earned this distinction together demonstrating the strength of our Kraemer community.”

Tuffree Middle School is no stranger to the title “California Distinguished School,” having earned the same distinction several times in previous years including 2011, 2005, and 1988.

“I’m very proud of my staff and their resilience to have earned this honor during the hardest of times in education,” Principal Cindy Freeman said. “They have relentlessly pushed themselves so that students not only achieve, but feel cared for during a world crisis. I’m honored to serve beside them.”

For 2021, Kraemer and Tuffree stand as two of only 11 secondary schools in Orange County and 102 schools in California to receive this matching distinction. To see the full list of 2021 California Distinguished Schools or to learn more about the program, please visit CDE’s website at

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