Skip to main content
Palms Teachers Volunteer

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 have returned to Palms to continue teaching as volunteers: Mr. Bruce Kravets and Ms. Sylvia Kvitky. Both teach math.

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

Honors, Awards & Recognition

2019-2020

Palms Receives Full 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 Spagna's Art Selected for LAUSD Calendar

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.

Noah Smith and Kevin Yamashita Win Awards in Rotary Club Art Contest

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.

Robotics Teams Win at First Lego League

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.
Palms Flag Football Team Wins City Championship

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.

Three Music Scholarships

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).

That's Not All

Please continue reading below for more honors and awards.

Click any heading to read the details.


2018-2019

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.

In February 2019, seventh grade history teacher Carina Garret was awarded the Joseph O'Flaherty Teaching Award by the History Society of Southern California.

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.

2017-2018

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.

2016-2017

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

In April 2017, Palms repeated as Science Fair champion as students from Palms dominated The Bruin Experiment's culminating event at UCLA.

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

2015-2016

In Spring 2016, letters by four Palms students made the state judging in the annual Letters About Literature contest.

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.

2014-2015

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.

2013-2014

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 8th grade clarinet player Merel Timmermans was selected as a member of the All-State Junior High Honor Band.

The Honor Band performed at the California State Music Teachers Convention in Fresno.

In February 2014, Palms 7th grader Caitlin Chen won an Award of Excellence for her visual arts entry in the California PTA Reflections 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.

In Fall 2013, the LAUSD Board of Education recognized Palms Middle School for its Far Above Predicted academic performance in Algebra 1 as measured by Academic Growth Over Time (AGT), based on exceptional California State Testing growth that far exceeded the District’s predicted numbers.

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.

2012-2013

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 Ms. 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.

Instrumental music teacher Julie West won the 2013 Veteran Teacher Award from the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association (January 26, 2013).

2011-2012

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 Ms. 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

2010-2011

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.

2009-2010

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!

2008-2009

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.

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."