National Merit Award Winner – Zoo Magnet

Two consecutive years

The Zoo Magnet is a smaller learning community from North Hollywood High, located across from the LA Zoo. Our Zoo Magnet recently earned the National Magnet School Merit Award. 

The Nation Magnet School Merit Award is an award of excellence to the Magnet Academy in question, which in this case would be our own Zoo Magnet. This award demonstrates the “…commitment to high academic standards, curriculum innovation, successful desegregation and  diversity efforts, and a strong parent community involvement,” as written on the LAUSD website. 

The Merit Award is not an award you are nominated for, but have to apply for in order to be reviewed and considered. The schools are then reviewed by a panel of educators and scored accordingly. 

Zoo Magnet has a separate campus, but freshmen and sophomores fluctuate between the main campus and the zoo campus. The students who attend Zoo Magnet follow a block schedule.

Genesis Bandenebro, Zoo Crew’s next treasurer, says “Notably, Zoo Magnet has the privilege to work alongside the Los Angeles Zoo to implement innovative methods of teaching and learning. Our incredible teachers have found innovative ways to pair teaching with fun adventurous activities that encourage students to think critically and form profound confidence in themselves.” The Zoo Magnet has been given opportunities most magnets don’t get. 

The next Zoo Crew president, Allison Xichol speaks on this topic, saying “I know Zoo Magnet should get this award because we are the only school that offers the program to have one on one time with zookeepers and animals at the LA Zoo.” 

Zoo Magnet is unique to different schools. Not only do they have the chance to work with zookeepers and animals, they have an amazing community. Bandenebro says, “Because of our small campus, we are able to build close bonds with our fellow students, staff, zookeepers, etc. building our sense of community,” she says, “The Zoo community is a collective effort made daily by our staff and students to foster personal growth and success. We are fortunate to have such dedicated staff and students that allow us to form strong partnerships.”

Xichol speaks about the community efforts, saying “For example, every Wednesday, it’s Wellness Wednesday, where people can go outside or in other classes and just hang out. For Women’s History Month we did a presentation, and for Halloween we decorated pumpkins. We take advantage of our small community to provide an experience most large schools cannot provide, strengthening our community.” 

Bandenebro describes how she contributes to her community: “Weekly, alongside Allison Xicol we create activities centered around the betterment of our student’s mental health.” Xichol adds, saying “I am on the chair for Wellness Wednesday and I do my best to attempt to make sure many people get involved with our activities.” 

Bandenebro has worked alongside other staff and students to better the Zoo community and work towards a bigger goal, to “create an atmosphere that is inclusive, supportive and more than anything welcoming.” 

The Zoo Crew works hard to make the Zoo Magnet a welcoming community. All their work has been rewarded with this award.