Westminster 92683 Is Home To La Quinta High School, #7 Ranked Public High School In Orange County


2008 API = 849 (Out of 1000) 
La Quinta High School (Westminster, CA 92683) sits at the border of four cities – Westminster, Garden Grove, Fountain Valley and Santa Ana – and draws from ethnically diverse neighborhoods that include some longstanding Latino families and many recent immigrants from Vietnam and Mexico.

La Quinta High School opened its doors in 1963 and now enters its forty-fifth school year. “La Quinta”, which means fifth in Spanish, acquired its name as the fifth high school built in the Garden Grove Unified School District and as an acknowledgement of the Hispanic heritage of this area.

La Quinta is a comprehensive high school currently enrolling 1,925 students, grades nine through twelve, who reside in Westminster, Garden Grove, Fountain Valley, and Santa Ana.

The student population is about 70 percent Vietnamese, 20 percent Hispanic, with other ethnicities making up the remaining 10 percent. More than half of students are on the federal free and reduced lunch program.

“Once they are here, they are all part of the Aztec Family,” said 27-year athletic director James Perry, referring to the school’s nickname. “Like any family, they push each other to succeed, whether it’s in the classroom, on stage or in the gym.”

Many students said that at home they speak to their parents in their native language, Spanish or Vietnamese. Parents have high expectations for their students’ success, but in many cases are limited in how much they can help with academics.

So students have to rely on one another for help, whether it’s geometry homework or advice on applying for college.

“It really starts with the students and the community,” said math teacher Cork Snider. “There is a culture of success here.”

Snider said students know the school’s API score and recite test scores as a matter of pride. They’ve even been known to chant test scores at athletic events to taunt other schools.

“Students honestly ask if they can get extra study material before state testing,” Snider said. “When I was in high school that would have been sarcasm. Not here.”

Vocational training also is emphasized at La Quinta, with training in the latest computer classes. And the school’s arts program continues to grow, next year increasing from 18 to 19 classes.

While many teachers complain that standardized testing has put too much emphasis on test scores, teachers at La Quinta said it has been great for their school because it’s brought the spotlight to a campus hidden for years.

As athletic director Perry put it, “We’re the best kept secret in Orange County.”

(Excerpts from OC Register)