California and Fletcher Elementary Schools Recognized with Distinguished California Education Honor

Orange, CA (December 12, 2019) – California Elementary’s iInspire Drone Invitational and Fletcher Elementary’s Mandarin Dual Immersion Program were both selected to receive California’s leading educational honor, the Golden Bell Award. There were 57 total recipients this year.

The Golden Bell Awards, celebrating their 40th year, are presented by the California School Boards Association to promote excellence by recognizing outstanding programs and governance practices in public education. The awards reflect the depth and breadth of education programs and governance decisions supporting these programs that are necessary to address students’ changing needs.

California Elementary’s iInspire Drone Invitational is a culminating event offering Drone League teams an opportunity to compete in three events and demonstrate their mastery of live coding skills, understanding about how drones solve real world problems by sharing research-backed presentations, and ability to navigate a drone around a square track for a set amount of time.  Drone League began at California Elementary and has expanded to encompass additional schools and districts. The program is an innovative way to get students excited about coding by engaging them in drone coding utilizing the SWIFT Playground language, the precursor to X Code, which is used to develop Apps.

Fletcher Elementary’s Mandarin Immersion Program is available to students in kindergarten through sixth grade. Students are taught in equal parts Mandarin Chinese and English by a specially trained teacher. The program brings equity and access to a diverse population by providing all students with a learning environment rich in culture and opportunity for literacy, cultural proficiency and multilingualism.

“We are extremely proud of our two Golden Bell Award recipients this year,” stated Assistant Superintendent, Educational Services, Cathleen Corella. “Both Dr. Albert and Mrs. Pelly are exceptional leaders who alongside dedicated and passionate staff pursue and model our district core values of Integrity, Equity, Respect, and Excellence in their daily work with students, parents, and community.”

A judging panel composed of experts from school districts and county offices of education across the state reviewed written entries and made initial recommendations. On-site validators then reviewed the recommendations and assessed the programs in action. This year’s Golden Bell winners demonstrated that they are addressing student needs through areas such as equity and access, school climate and safety, technology and wellness.

Orange Unified leaders were on hand to receive the  awards at a well-attended reception and ceremony on Dec. 5 at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina. The awards ceremony was part of CSBA’s Annual Education Conference and Trade Show held in San Diego from Dec. 5-7. The conference is the premier continuing education event for California school boards and the largest education leadership conference in the state.

“Now more than ever is a time to acknowledge and celebrate innovative and impactful programs that make a difference in the lives of our young people,” said CSBA CEO & Executive Director Vernon M. Billy. “This year’s Golden Bell winners truly serve as beacons of success as we work to more fully and equitably serve all of California’s public school students.”

Last year, the Golden Bell was awarded to Canyon High School’s Aviation Pathway, and California Elementary’s Take-Home iPad Program received a Golden Bell in 2017.

To learn more about the Golden Bell awards and all the winners, visit the program’s website at



The Orange Unified School District educates approximately 28,000 K-12 grade students in the Cities of Orange, Villa Park, Anaheim, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, and unincorporated county areas.  In partnership with our community, we provide a safe, equitable, and innovative culture of learning for each scholar to have a competitive EDGE as a leader.