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Honors, Awards & Recognition


Palms Spelling Bee Champion Places at Regional Contest

6th grader Pratim Rajesh won the SCRIPPS Spelling Bee competition at Palms in January 2024.

In March 2024, Pratim represented Palms at the Regional West Spelling Bee competition, finishing in 2nd place.

Pratim Rajesh

Two Palms Musicians Featured in Oscar-winning L.A. Times Short Documentary

"The Last Repair Shop," a documentary about a repair shop for school instruments, featured two Palms students. You can watch the documentary, in which the repair shop workers tell their individual stories and one Palms student is interviewed, at latimes.com.

When the film won an Oscar for Best Documentary Short, Palms 6th grade violinist Porché Brinker (shown below) accompanied filmmakers Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers to the Dolby Theatre stage. About 20 million people watched the telecast.

Palms students took a field trip Westchester High School for a screening of the film. The filmmakers were privately funded professionals who worked with LAUSD to make the film.

 Palms music studentPalms music student

Three Palms Finalists in Día de Los Muertos Contest

Palms 7th grader Robin Cunningham and Palms 8th graders Cybelle Rivera-Guzman and Alex Ruiz were selected as finalists in the annual Día de Los Muertos art contest sponsored by the Pasadena Tournament of Roses.

There were about 1000 entries, 16 of them from Palms Middle School.

Robin CunninghamRobin Cunningham
Robin Cunningham

Cybelle Rivera-Guzman Cybelle Rivera-Guzman
Cybelle Rivera-Guzman

Alex RuizAlex Ruiz
Alex Ruiz

That's Not All

Please continue reading below for more honors and awards.

Click any heading to read the details.


The Motivating Minds Club was created by Palms students Mia Rubalcava, Katalin (Katie) Rison, and Isabella Morales in the 2022-2023 school year.

The LAUSD Office of Human Relations, Diversity & Equity selected Mia, Katie, and Isabella as recipients of a Human Relations Student Leadership Award!

Mia Rubalcava, Katie Rison, and Iliana Morales
Mia Rubalcava, Katie Rison, and Iliana Morales


Minecraft Champions

In June 2023, three 7th graders from Palms won the first-ever LAUSD Level Up! Minecraft Competition, beating other middle school teams as well as high school teams, totaling almost 800 students throughout the school district. They competed through two playoff rounds before wining the championship. The contest challenged LAUSD students to design safe, connected, equitable, resilient, and sustainable communities.

In May 2023, a Palms 7th grader won recognition and a Barnes & Noble gift card while placing 3rd in an essay contest run by the Dr. Barbara Seniors Harkins Foundation.

The contest asked students this question:

Imagine that you could give advice to someone—it could be someone you know personally, a historical figure, or a famous person living today. Write an essay that identifies the person and the advice you would give. Choose a familiar subject so that you can provide details and explain why this person needs your advice.


Palms and Hamiton robotics team

Palms and Hamilton Robotics students

In January 2023, two teams of Palms students in the Robotics elective, taught by Ms. Czujko, demonstrated their engineering, leadership, and teamwork skills at their First Tech Challenge (FTC) qualifying tournament.

Both teams emerged victorious while competing against middle and high school teams.

  • The "Cyber Knights" team earned the 3rd highest award at the competition, the Connect Award, for strongly networking with the local STEM community.
  • "Team Hydra" was ranked 3rd place, and advanced to the 2nd place alliance to compete in the semi-finals.

    Team Hydra invited Hamilton High School to team up. After sweeping their competitors, Team Hydra advanced to the final round, earning them 2nd place in the robot game.

    Team Hydra was even prouder to be named the first runner up for the Inspire Award, which is the highest honor and top award given at an FTC tournament. The judges recognized the team’s ability to balance robot engineering and performance with community service, outreach efforts, team identity, and gracious professionalism.


LAUSD Holiday Card 2022

In December 2022, the LAUSD Superintendent created a holiday card for the LAUSD community, using artwork by LAUSD students. The featured art was by Palms 8th grader  Zara Syed.

Art by Zara Syed

The card also featured art by four other Palms art students of Ms. Goldin:

7th grader Phaedra Lindner:

Phaedra Lindner

8th grader Marissa Martinez:

Art by Marissa Martinez

6th grader Sarai Van Ert:

Art by Sarai Van Ert

7th grader Raleigh St. Claire Hill:

Art by Raleigh St. Claire Hill

Congratulations to our fantastic art students!

The Wende Museum

In September 2022, the Wende Museum in Culver selected flags designed by nine of Ms. Goldin's art students to be part of a flag installation at the museum.

The Wende's Flag For Our Times Competition challenged students to create an original flag design representing dreams for a brighter future or one’s vision of a utopia.

The selected Palms students were:

  • Namkha Drolma
  • Daniel Huang
  • Samia Kilpatrick
  • Phaedra Lindner
  • Aanya Khatter
  • Brenda Martinez
  • Zara Syed
  • Mya Umar
  • Sacha Wiley

The Wende's The Medium is the Message: Flags and Banners exhibition combined Cold War-era political, ornamental flags from communist countries with contemporary artworks offering critical reflections on the here and now.


Students from the Video Production elective, taught by Mrs. Clark, won 10 awards at this year’s Directing Change Mental Health and Suicide Prevention film competition and the monthly Hope and Justice film competition. 

In the Mental Health category, they were competing against 700 submissions from middle schools throughout California. In the Hope and Justice category, they were competing against both middle school and high school students. 

Each film crew consisted of 2 to 6 students, representing quite a few of our Modern Media and Communications Magnet students! 

Hope and Justice category 

  • Finally There by Riley Trosclair and Kennedy Saunders - 2nd place tie 

  • Pledge To Mental Health by Angelica Cole, Christian Valdez, Shelliece Coleman, and Jesse Rivas - Honorable Mention 

  • Finding Hope by J. Vasquez, S. Guzman, A. Mendoza, J. Sutherland, and S. Nolasco - Honorable Mention 

  • Choose Hope by Kayley Zargar, Katjah Gayley, Baran Ahmadvand, and Ariel Feld - Honorable Mention 

TAKE Action for Mental Health category 

Walk in Our Shoes - What is Mental Health & Words Matter category 

Walk in Our Shoes - The Superhero In Each of Us category 

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

art by Isabelle Liu-Martinez

In May 2022, Palms 8th grade student Isabelle Liu-Martinez won second-place prize and $75 in the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's poster contest, competing against all other 8th grade students in the Los Angeles area.

LADWP, wanting to encourage students to join the fight against climate change, sponsored the art contest, challenging students to submit original artwork illustrating how everyone can do their part.


In May 2022, the following Palms students each received a $500 scholarship toward their music lessons. The awards were given by the Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA.

  • Aditya Ahuja, 8th grade, Violin
  • Barathi Balamurugan, 7th grade, Alto Saxophone
  • Douglas Eastman, 6th grade, Piano
  • Aarna Kumar, 8th grade, Violin
  • Antoni Lipetsky, 6th grade, Piano
  • Aarohi Meli, 8th grade, Violin

Colburn SchoolLos Angeles Secondary Music Teachers Assocation

Also in May 2022:


Finally There from Directing Change on Vimeo.

Winning video by Riley Trosclair and Kennedy Saunders

In April 2022, Palms students from the Video Production elective, taught by Mrs. Clark, won ten awards at the annual Directing Change Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Film Competition and the monthly Hope and Justice Film Competition.

In the Mental Health category they were competing against 700 submissions from middle school throughout California. In the Hope and Justice category they were competing against both middle school and high school students.

Each film crew consisted of 2 to 6 students, representing quite a few of the Modern Media and Communications Magnet students.

The Road to Find

Ten of Ms. Goldin's art students received $25 when their Women's Rights artwork was featured in the Fall/Winter 2022 edition of The Road to Find, an online social justice journal.

  • Destiny Castellanos, 8th grade
  • Sarah Linderman, 8th grade
  • Brenda Martinez, 7th grade
  • Marissa Martinez, 7th grade
  • Darya Mokhtari, 7th grade
  • Stacy Rincon, 7th grade
  • Victoria Seo, 8th grade
  • Declan Shortt, 8th grade
  • Nathan Valencia, 8th grade
  • Bruktayt Worku, 8th grade

Sonia Banker, The Road to Find Founder and Editor in Chief, said that the art by these Palms students spoke on deep and emotional levels and would continue to inspire those who read the journal.

Kevon Fortune

Kevon Fortune, photo from the Los Angeles Times

Kevon Fortune, a former Palms instrumental music student, played violin in a performance for the NFL Honors TV show on Thursday evening, February 10, 2022, as part of ABC's lead-up to the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 13, 2022.

Kevon played as a member of the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, the largest majority Black orchestra in the country, which was selected for this honor. The orchestra played a number of pieces, including the Star Spangled Banner and the theme from Star Wars.

Kevon was profiled in a Los Angeles Times article, which reported that he was deciding on his college choices and planned a career as an aerospace engineer.

In January 2022, Palms clarinet player Daniel Karpoukhin was accepted into the California All State Honor Band.


Poster by Destiny Catellanos and Jazmin Paiz

Winning poster by Destiny Catellanos and Jazmin Paiz

Art students Destiny Catellanos and Jazmin Paiz, both in Ms. Goldin's art class, were winners of the 2021 Día De Los Muertos Art Contest sponsored by the Pasadena Tournament of Roses.

Their poster won first place in the middle school age category. They received a $500 scholarship.

Three Palms students received Honorable Mention awards and $50 gift cards: Petra Daly, Areli Sanchez, and Bruktayt Worku.


Jade Yates  drawing and Kelly Marie Tran

Jade Yates' drawing of actress Kelly Marie Tran, and the actress herself

The Artist, a monologue written by Palms student Jade Yates (in 6th grade at the time) was chosen out of hundreds of scripts to be one out of the 5 monologues performed as part of the Young Storytellers Fox Studios Monologue program in October 2021, at the historic Theatre At the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

Young Storytellers arranged a limo for Jade's' family with the full red carpet treatment.

Jade also won the Asian American Pacific Islander Art Contest in May 2021 for her drawing of Star Wars actress Kelly Marie Tran. By coincidence, Ms. Tran was the celebrity selected to read Jade's monologue!

Ms. Garret at UCLA

On September 19, 2021, Palms history teacher Ms. Garret was honored at a UCLA Football Game at the Rose
Bowl as part of Extra Yard for Teachers, an annual salute to teachers supported by the Pac-12 and the College Football Playoff Foundation.

Extra Yard for Teachers is dedicated to elevating the teaching profession by inspiring and empowering teachers in four core areas: resources, recognition, professional development, and recruitment and retention.


art by Kaylee Nakagawa

Palms student Kaylee Nakagawa was a Bronze winner in the 2021 Starlings Art & Literary Contest sponsored by the Starlings Girls Volleyball Prrogram.

Starlings Volleyball, USA


UCLAThe Bruin Experiment

In May 2021, students from Palms, overseen by Mrs. Igarashi, swept the awards in the Science Fair of The Bruin Experiment.

First place winners from Palms:

  • Curie category: Micah Smith
  • Einstein category: Alyssa Ferrufino
  • Seabord category: Katalin Rison
  • Turing category: Teara Wedlow

Other winners:

  • President's Award: Aarna Kumar
  • Most Ambitious: Lior Wilensky
  • Most Applicable: Rowan Sellers
  • Most Artistic: Selma Emekci
  • Most Creative: Shaya Dadmehr
  • Most Enthusiastic: Naomi Lahav

Honorable Mentions:

  • Barathi Balamurugan
  • Taraya Carter
  • Azra Emekci
  • Chloe Hovorka
  • Sophie Hyun
  • Elise Kao
  • Alexander Linares
  • Valentine Schieneman
  • Noah Smith
  • Christopher Neal Thompson
  • Ian Thompson
  • Malinda Veloz Venegas

Palms Middle School Music

In May 2021, Palms students Elise Fukuda and John Xie won $250 scholarships for private lessons from the Los Angeles Music Teacher's Association Scholarship.


Hope is Contagious by Uleses Henderson and Kinidi Curl

In March 2021, students in the Palms Modern Media and Communications Magnet swept the awards in the monthly Directing Change California Hope and Justice contest.

First place (winner of $300):

Hope is Contagious” by Uleses Henderson and Kinidi Curl

Second place (winner of $150):

When It All Seems Hopeless” by Baron Ellis

Third place (winner of $100):

Hopeful, Healthy Happy Cookies” by Sara Rocha

Three other entries by Palms students won Honorable Mention awards:

The Silver Lining” by Samantha Hartmann and Ieva Arnold

Find the Rainbow” by Madison Fujioka

Finding Hope” by Diana Hernandez


In April 2021, students In the Palms Modern Media and Communications Magnet won seven awards in the annual Directing Change California film contest.

First place in the Words Matter category (winner of $500):

Online Dangers: The Power of Our Words” by Baron Ellis, Shayaan Hyder, and Yossi Lazaro Cruz

Blue Shield of California published an article about Baron's video.

First place in the Superhero in Each of Us category (winner of $500):

Help Equals Hope” by Samantha Hartmann, Ieva Arnold, and Margot Madeira

Third place in the What is Mental Health category (winner of $250):

A Simple Hi” by Uleses Henderson, Traydell Wilson, Lennox Bradford, and Shane Hines

Two entries by Palms students won Honorable Mention awards in the What is Mental Health category:

A Quiet Insecure Mindset” by Kinidi Curl, Victoria Toovi, and Zinnia Woods

"Listen Close" by Sara Rocha, Diana Hernandez, Gabriella Daza, and Aaliyah Martinez

Two entries by Palms students won Honorable Mention awards in the Superhero in Each of Us category:

Making a Friend” by Lincoln Elbert and Arel Kotzen

Call for Help” by Seanna Coleman, Kennedy Pitts, and Lauren Richard

C5 Los Angeles

In May 2021, ten 8th graders from Palms were selected to participate in the C5 Youth Foundation of Southern California program:

  • Arielle J.
  • Brandon C.
  • Cruz G.
  • Esteban N.
  • Getajati L.
  • Jonathan G.
  • Liam G.
  • Nasir Aliu
  • Sary R.
  • Sydney B.

The C5LA program:

  • Builds strong relationships between youth and adults.
  • Allows students to see college as a realistic goal.
  • Introduces students to new activities, ideas and concepts.
  • Engages students in challenging activities to build self-confidence.
  • Engages students in community service.
  • Leads students to career opportunities.

Palms student Richard Arter

In March 2021, Palms 7th grade student Richard Arter was featured on NBC Nightly News Kids Edition.

The segment was about Richard's participation in the middle school music program that provides students with guitar, bass, or ukulele equipment and lessons. The program is a partnership between LAUSD and the Fender Play Foundation.

In the news segment, Richard talks to Lester Holt and demonstrates his bass playing.

Watch the video

Richard's segment starts at 19:38.


In January 2021, Palms 7th grade student Mia Safdie, a clarinet player, was accepted into the California Symphonic All-State Honor Band.

Due to the pandemic, the All-State Band will be recording a virtual performance this year, rather than an in-person performance.

Irene Clark Teacher AppreciationIrene Clark Teacher Appreciation Certificate

In December 2020, Mrs. Clark, an English, Speech, and Video Production teacher in the Palms Modern Media and Communications Magnet, was honored by the Los Angeles Clippers with a Teacher Appreciation Award and certificate, for her "hard work and dedication to students."

Mrs. Clark was asked "What advice would you give young Clippers fans in regards to the importance of education?" Her answer was "Life is an education. We learn most from what we think is difficult. See it in a positive light, as a challenge, and then work hard to meet and beat that challenge."

D a de los Muertos

In November 2020, Palms 7th grade student Shirley Santiago received recognition and $100 as second runner-up in the Día de los Muertos art contest sponsored by the Tournament of Roses.

drawing by Tyler Maurer

In October 2020, Palms 7th grader Tyler Maurer won 2nd place and $50 for his drawing of an environmentally friendly urban space in a contest sponsored by Solatia. Tyler was competing against both middle school and high school students.

Four Palms students received honorable mentions: Fateh Aliyev, Anastacia GallardoAreli Sanchez, and Olivia Taylor.

Contest theme: Incorporating green spaces into urban areas

Contest description:

Sustainable cities make efficient use of water, food, and energy resources while providing for the well-being of people and wildlife. How would you put a creative spin on integrating green spaces into where we live, work, and attend school?

Tyler's description of his art:

My solution works in a way that is environmentally friendly while teaching the public about the environment and sustainability. In my world, there is a “PLANTED Deli” where the meat is plant based and does not produce methane, a community garden where people can collaborate on something that is good for everyone, the “R&Y Gallery” which uses recycled materials to make art pieces, and a mural of the electric grid which educates the public about renewable resources. For accessibility, there are detectable warning pavers for the blind crossing the street, and “zebra” striped crosswalks, so that cars can see it from a greater distance. My art is progressive and shows a green future.

The judge's comments on Tyler's art:

I like that the artist answered the question of “integrating green spaces into where we live, work, and attend school” by using city planning and looking at the bigger picture of what is needed in order to create real change and sustainability. I think the drawing was executed well and is a thoughtful depiction of the many elements needed to create progressive community needs in order to achieve that goal.

Hope for Unity logo

In October 2020, Palms 8th grade student Krisette Arcinas received Top Honors for her painting in the Hope for Unity art contest sponsored by art supply store Baller Art Ware. The artwork was displayed in October and November at the Neutra Institute Gallery & Museum.

Ms. Garret receives award

In September 2020, Palms seventh grade history teacher Ms. Garret was recognized during Extra Yard for Teachers Week for "going the Extra Yard for her students." The award included $1,200 for classroom supplies and projects.

The news was tweeted and shared on Facebook by @UCLA Athletics, saying

Ms. Garret has shown herself to be a leader in diversity and inclusive education through her community involvement. She works tirelessly to ensure that all students are fully adapting to distance learning.

Each year, during the College Football Playoff Foundation's Extra Yard for Teachers Week, universities, conferences, and ESPN come together to celebrate and recognize teachers across the country.



Palms 6th grade violin player Jasmine Li won a $250 music scholarship from the Los Angeles Secondary Music Teacher's Association (LASMTA). The scholarships are awarded to "students who show exceptional promise and achievement in the field of music."

The Gifted Magnet program has been recognized as an Excelling Magnet for the 2018-2019 school year by Student Integration Services. The award was based on the Magnet Performance Index. 

Excelling Magnet

6-year WASC accreditation

In November 2019, Palms was fully accredited for Grades 6-7-8 by the Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). In Spring 2019, Palms underwent a rigorous assessment of academic programs and overall education, ultimately earning WASC approval.

While we’ve always been proud of the solid education Palms students receive, this marked a notable achievement, particularly as this is a new standard being applied to middle school programs.

Dr. Moruchi holding Certificate or Accreditation

Palms principal, Dr. Moriuchi, proudly holds our latest academic award issued by the agency that assesses secondary educational institutions.

Daniel SpagnaDaniel Spagna s art

A color drawing of a bird standing in front of trees, mountains, and the sun, created by 8th grade Palms student Daniel Spagna, was selected for the July page of the 2019-20 LAUSD School Calendar.

The calendar is entitled Our Students - the heART of Los Angeles Unified 2019-2020 School Calendar.


Kevin Yamashita

Westchester Rotary Club Art Contest Winners

Palms eighth graders Kevin Yamashita and Noah Smith each won awards in the Westchester Rotary Club 7th and 8th Grade Arts Contest.

They displayed their artwork and answered written and verbal questions about their work, the meaning behind it, what inspired them, and their intended audience.

Kevin won the first place prize of $750. Noah received a $50 award.

Robotis teams group photo

In November 2019, Palms sixth grade students showcased their STEAM innovations in the Southern California Robotics League, a chapter of the First Lego League (FLL).

Each of the three teams from Palms won a trophy in the qualifying tournament, featuring 23 teams from across Los Angeles. Tasks included engineering robots, using CAD and 3D printing to improve urban communities, and programming robots to achieve tasks on a game board.

  • Team Watermelon won first place overall and was awarded the Champion's Award. They advanced to the Southern California FLL Regional Finals in December 2019.
  • Team EV2 won second place, earning the Robot Score Trophy.
  • Team The Norwegian Ridgebacks won second place, earning the Robot Design Trophy.

Beyond the Bell flag football team

In November 2019, the Palms 6th grade Beyond the Bell Co-Ed Flag Football Team won the Los Angeles City championship, with a resounding 50-0 win over Peary Middle School.

The Palms 7th/8th grade boys team and the Palms 7th/8th grade girls team both lost in the city semi-finals.

musical notesIn April 2019, three Palms students received music scholarships from Tenth District PTA:

  • Esteban Hidalgo (viola)
  • Andrew Lin (piano)
  • LaVie Saad (clarinet)

They each received $300 for private music instruction.

Two students received Honorable Mention: Karen Gomez-Jimenez (violin) and Pedro Matias (violin).



In March 2019, Video Production students Kalyra Thompson, Victoria Valdez, and Leslie Garlington submitted a public-service video named All You Need Is A Friend to the Program and Film Contest of Directing Change.

The students split a third-place award of $250.

The contest was run by Each Mind MATTERS, part of California's Mental Health Movement and its statewide efforts to prevent suicide, reduce stigma and discrimination related to mental illness, and to promote the mental health and wellness of students.


The award honored "creative excellence in the teaching of history in grades K-12 in the schools of Southern California."

2019 02 Carina Garret Award


Palms A.P Mr. Jauregui with Superintendent Beutner

Palms A.P. Mr. Jauregui with Superintendent Beutner, Kieran Johnson, and Kieran's mother

In December 2018, Palms hosted Full STEAM Ahead!, a program of the Gifted Network for African American/Black Students and Families (GNAASF). The meeting theme was "Full STEAM Ahead: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math for Gifted and Highly Gifted African American/Black Students." The keynote speaker was Austin Beutner, LAUSD Superintendent and parents also heard from Board of Education member Dr. George McKenna and Board Vice President Nick Melvoin.

Over 400 hundred students attended, learning about LAUSD resources and choosing from several interactive workshops.

In the December 2018 Run4Fun Festival, which are annual races held by the LA84 Foundation, runners from the following Palms teams finished first in their categories:

  • 6th grade boys
  • 6th grade girls
  • 7th grade girls
  • 8th grade boys
  • 8th grade girls

while 7th grade boys finished second in their category.

In September 2018, the Pincus family from Palms was invited to represent their school at the prestigious East West Players Night Market gala.

The gala honored Los Angeles County Board Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas.


Palms received the Excelling Magnet award for the 2017-18 school year based on the school's Magnet Performance Index.

Palms MS Excelling Magnet Award

In May 2018, Palms student Jaden Robinson won a music scholarship from the Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA for the second year in a row.

In April 2018, Palms Middle School won The Bruin Experiment Science Fair at UCLA for the third year in a row, over strong competitors from Webster Middle School and Mark Twain Middle School.

Madeline Doi was the Palms winner, while Adnan Shavers, Danika Pienkos, and Brendan Messinger received Honorable Mentions.

In February 2018, Palms 8th grader & trumpeter Jaden Robinson played in the California All-State Junior High Jazz Band in San Jose.

He was selected from a pool of over 2,400 applicants throughout the state, after submitting his audition tape to the California Band Directors Association.

In September 2017, LAUSD Daily featured Palms Middle School's participation in a program by JPL and the Space Games Federation.

Palms students met the challenge to design an athletic competition/game to be played in space.


Julie West, Music Teacher

Julie West, former Palms instrumental music teacher received numerous awards during her tenure at Palms.

Ms. West, always active in the local music community, served as President of the Los Angeles Secondary Music Teachers Assocation (LASMTA) from 2011 to 2017. She retired in June 2017.

Museum of the Jewish People

In Spring 2017, Sapir Brand was one of only 50 students worldwide selected in the My Family Story 2017 International Competition.

With air transportation provided by the museum, she was invited to show her winning project -- The Land of Milk and Honey -- at the Beit Hatfutsot Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv.

More than 20,000 students from 28 countries participated in My Family Story initiative.

LASMTA music scholarships
Jaden and Lorelei with their teacher Ms. West

In Spring 2017, two Palms students won music scholarships after auditioning for the Los Angeles Secondary Music Teacher's Association (LASMTA).

  • 6th grader Lorelei Deutsch won for her cello playing.
  • 7th grader Jaden Robinson won for his trumpet playing.

Lorelei and Jaden received their awards at a ceremony at the Grammy Foundation in Santa Monica.

Save Energy LA

LA Department of Water and Power logo

In Spring 2017, Palms student Kayla Jang was the winner, across all 7th grade students in Los Angeles city, of the Save Energy Contest sponsored by the Los Angeles Deparment of Water and Power (LADWP) and the Los Angeles Times.

The Times traditionally publishes winning posters in a Sunday newspaper edition.

Kayla Jang - Save Emergency Contest winner

Winner Kayla Jang

Kayla Jang - Save Emergency Contest poster

Kayla's winning poster


Palms students won first, second, and third place, as well as four honorable mentions!

  • First place: Navaneeth Srinivasan
  • Second place: Samuel Fuchs
  • Third place: Lana Neulander

Honorable mention: Summer HamzehCharlene HuangAmelia Moss, and Tristan Zabala


Educational Results Partnership

In April 2017, Palms Middle School was named an Honor Roll School for the 2016 California Honor Roll presented by Educational Research Partnership and its Campaign for Business and Education Excellence. They identify successful schools, particularly in economically disadvantaged districts, and promote their best practices.

Read letter from the Principal

See the full list


8th grade Student Jayla Hill

Palms 8th grader Jayla Hill competed on the popular Chopped Junior TV show on the Cooking Network, which filmed in New York in 2016. She made it to the finals.

Reporter Ellen Morgan wrote an January 2017 news article about Jayla's TV appearance:

Palms MS student stirs passions for cooking with 'Chopped Junior' appearance.

Read the article online at LAUSD Daily

Download the article

LA Report Card

A December 2016 news article at LA School Report by Sarah Favot reported on the success of Palms Middle School:

Middle school close-up: Palms Middle succeeds by investing in teacher training

Download PDF


One Palms student was sixth in the state among 1,117 competing students.


UCLAThe Bruin Experiment is a UCLA club whose members work to interest middle school students in science, and help facilitate their participation in an annual UCLA Science Fair.

In April 2016, the first year that Palms Middle School was invited to participate, Palms students presented the results of their experiments to a panel of judges. A Palms student placed second overall, and 8 of the 9 Honorable Mention went to Palms students. Based upon the average scores of all the projects, Palms was declared the winner of the Science Fair.

California Band Directors Association logoIn February 2016, two Palms band members, Alex Lui and Jasper Timmermans, were accepted into the California All-State Honor Band by the California Band Directors Assocation.

They were selected from a pool of over 1,700 applicants throughout the state after submitting their audition recordings.

Alex plays tenor saxophone and Jasper plays trumpet.


Nicole Feyzjou artwork
Artwork by Nicole Feyzjou

The 2014 LAUSD Holiday Card distributed by Superintendent Ramon Cortines featured art from Palms 7th grade student Nicole Feyzjou.

Nicole, a student of art teacher Ms. Goldin, is one of only three students in all of LAUSD whose art was selected after a district-wide competition.


In March 2014, Palms 8th grade violinist Aya Chaarawi won the House of Blues Foundation "Why I would like to have an instrument" essay contest. She was rewarded with a new violin.

In March 2014, a Palms student won the Tenth District PTA T-Shirt Design Contest.

T-shirts with the winning design were worn by volunteers at the California State PTA Convention.

In February 2014, Palms 7th grader Caitlin Chen won an Award of Excellence for her visual arts entry in the California PTA Reflections Art Contest. Caitlin's entry was selected to compete in the California state contest where it received an Award of Merit.

In Spring 2014, Palms 7th grade student Layla Arjomand won the California state competition in the annual Letters about Literature contest, which asks students to read a book, poem, or speech, then write to the author about how the work impacted their lives. Many thousands of letters are judged in highly competitive state contests. Layla's letter was selected as the winner in the 7th/8th grade category.

Layla read I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, the autobiography of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl famous for her campaign for educational rights for girls (and later won a Nobel Peace Prize). As state winner, Layla's letter advanced to the national competition.

A letter by Palms 7th grade student Caitlin Chen was also selected as one of only 10 semi-finalists in the state of California. Caitlin wrote to Jerry Spinelli, author of the popular young adult novel Maniac Magee, and he wrong back to her.

Palms score highly overall and in every LAUSD AGT category: by sex, by Special Education status, and by ethnicity. Palms was the only middle school on the Los Angeles Westside to receive this recognition and one of only 6 LAUSD middle schools recognized district-wide.

Superintendent John Deasy said:

We celebrate the performance of these extraordinary schools. These results are a testament to the outstanding work of the administration and faculty on those campuses.


In June 2013, Ms. Czujko was selected as an LAUSD Teacher of the Year while at her previous middle school. She become a 6th grade Math/Science teacher at Palms in Fall 2019. At the time of her award, she said "My greatest accomplishment in teaching is reaching the untapped potential stored inside many of my middle school children."

In April 2013, Palms 6th grader Caitlin Chen won a prestigious Association of Educational Office Employees Writing Award.

She and Palms Principal Dr. Moriuchi were on hand as the award was given at the Quiet Cannon Restaurant in Montebello, CA.

Catilin was the only 6th grader in LAUSD to receive the year's Writing Award.

In April 2013, Palms students raised $1,660 to make a donation to the Simms/Mann UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology in honor of a Palms parent. Palms students of teacher Mrs. Santana spent their lunch periods volunteering their time, selling homemade artwork and jewelry and items they made from duct tape, and jumping rope to earn money from pledges. Read the thank-you letter they received.


In June 2012, Palms 7th grader Jordyn Sacino won the My Bright Idea Contest run by the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Her proposal to save art programs was selected as the best submission by a student from 1,300 total contestants.

As a result of her idea, thousands of students participated in the LA Arts Festival.

The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) gave one of its two annual awards for 2012 to the Palms Middle School DNA Day partnership with UCLA. Palms was selected based on the DNA Day program developed by Palms teacher Mrs. Santana. The $10,000 grant supported transportation and instructional materials that let Palms participate in DNA Day and expand the scope of the genetics education our students receive. The grant benefited all of the Palms science teachers who teach genetics.

See our Palms DNA Day page and the National Human Genome Research Institute press release.

Based on California Standards Tests in English and Math, LAUSD repeatedly gave the Palms Gifted/High Ability Magnet its top designation: Model of Excellence.

Each year since 2011-2012, LAUSD has recognized the Palms Middle School Magnet as an Excelling Magnet or an Achieving Magnet (the top 2 categories) based on the School Performance Framework (SPF).

Instrumental music teacher Julie West won:

In November 2011, four Palms teachers joined the ranks of National Board Certified Teachers:

  • Mr. An (7th grade history)
  • Ms. Eddington (8th grade English)
  • Ms. Solarz (7th and 8th grade English)
  • Ms. Vogel (English as a Second Language)

National Board Certification is a voluntary assessment program that recognizes effective and accomplished teachers who meet high standards. Studies show that these National Board Certified teachers are associated with higher student gains on achievement tests and that peers look to these teachers for leadership, mentoring and coaching, so the benefit is school-wide


In June 2011 Palms students Rick Li and Kiara Santacruz were honored at LA High School Corwin Theater as school ambassadors for the Do the Right Thing challenge to help stop violence.

They were selected based on the essays they submitted.

Mr. Kravets, Palms math teacher

Bruce Kravets, Palms math teacher, was honored as Teacher of the Month at a Lakers basketball game in February 2011.

See also The Power of Parents below.


In Spring 2009, Palms 7th grader Emily Choi was winner of the Los Angeles County Office of Education Student Art Exhibit.

Several students from Palms were chosen to participate in the Inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States in January 2009, traveling to Washington, D.C. for the event.

When they returned, they provided their classes with wonderful insight on the political process.


Bruce Kravets, Palms math teacher and winner of a Jaime Escalante award, volunteered to keep teaching without pay after his retirement, but weeks of red tape, mixed signals, and confusion in the school district made it appear that he could not continue to teach, despite the strong support of the principal and a statement by LAUSD superintendent Ray Cortines that Mr. Kravets is "extraordinary."

Parents overwhelmingly responded, calling attention to the situation, resulting in an article in the Los Angeles Times by well-known columnist Steve Lopez. Mr. Lopez reported that Mr. Kravets "worked on Saturdays and Sundays with students who wanted a little extra help at a school that is considered one of the best in L.A. Unified. He quoted Palms principal Bonnie Murrow, speaking of Mr. Kravets in saying "I can't say enough incredible things about this man."

That attention in turn brought about a resolution of the problem and approval for Mr. Kravets to volunteer. He returned to teaching math at Palms and taught after-school classes as well!

Palms Middle School was one of only four middle schools in the United States chosen to select middle school fiction books for Voice of Youth Advocates.

Instrumental music teacher Julie West won the 2009 Don Schmeer-Byron Hoyt Band Educator Award, given annually to an exemplary instrumental music educator by the California Association for Music Education.

Her comments:

"I am very honored to have music teachers in the state recognize my contribution to teaching music and band in particular. Palms parents and staff are very complimentary about the instrumental music program. I am very fortunate to teach at a school with such great students. It's nice to also be recognized beyond the local school for your hard work and achievement by fellow music educators. I was also told this award is usually given to a high school band teacher."

Two Palms Teachers Who Volunteered to Teach

Palms teachers regularly go beyond the call of duty, volunteering to help students, the school, and the local community.

Two highly qualified teachers reached retirement but continued teaching as volunteers for almost a decade: Mr. Bruce Kravets and Ms. Sylvia Kvitky. Both taught math.

Palms students benefited greatly from their dedication and years of teaching experience at Palms.