Mentor David Black helps his students Joshua Valerio, 14, and Sairkiran Ramanan, 16, of Circuit Breakers 696, work a conveyor system they designed at Clark Magnet High School on Feb. 20, 2012.

Mentor David Black helps his students Joshua Valerio, 14, and Sairkiran Ramanan, 16, of Circuit Breakers 696, work a conveyor system they designed at Clark Magnet High School on Feb. 20, 2012. (Tim Berger/Staff photographer / October 15, 2012)

Clark Magnet High School was named a national Blue Ribbon school for the second time, Glendale Unified officials announced Monday.

The award recognizes private and public schools that make significant academic progress on federal benchmarks. Clark Magnet is among just 24 Blue Ribbon schools named in California and 307 in the nation.

“I’m just amazed by it,” said Principal Doug Dall. “When you think about how hard it is to do this…it confirms what the district has done with professional development — the fact that our teachers work so hard.”

Of 1,100 students at Clark, 52% are low-income and 85% primarily speak a language other than English. Despite those figures, test scores continue to improve.

This year, Clark topped all Glendale high schools with a score of 920 out of 1,000 on the Advanced Performance Index, known as the API. And 100% of students passed the California High School Exit Exam in math and English.

Dall attributes the school’s success to the culture on campus.

“The students and the teachers collaborate almost on a peer relationship,” he said.

With an emphasis on digital arts, science, technology and engineering, the campus has received $3 million in grants since opening in 1998 to teach hands-on programs, such as robotics.

“We’re constantly trying to improve and looking at resources,” Dall said. “We’ve never said, ‘We’re not going to do something because it cost too much.’”

Following Clark’s lead, Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan said he’s working to add robotics to more schools and create additional magnet schools.

“I think Clark is a model school,” Sheehan said. “We as a district try to learn from their successes.”

In November, federal officials will present winners with plaques and flags in Washington, D.C. But Clark educators declined the invitation to save on travel costs.

“As a staff, we don’t think that spending that kind of money with limited resources is a good idea,” Dall said.

School officials will participate in a Los Angeles County ceremony, and Dall said a celebration could likely include cake — similar to the school’s last Blue Ribbon celebration in 2006.

-- Kelly Corrigan, Times Community News

Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan