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Orange County Classical Academy Recognized as a California Distinguished School 

Orange County Classical Academy Recognized as a California Distinguished School 

The Orange County Classical Academy (OCCA) was recognized this week as a  California Distinguished School, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced. OCCA, a high-performing public charter school, was the only school to receive the prestigious 2023 award in Orange Unified School District. 

“Orange County Classical Academy truly deserves to be recognized as a California Distinguished School,” said Will Swaim, president of the California Policy Center. “In the short time it’s been open, the charter has exceeded all expectations in student performance and families’ satisfaction.”

“OCCA has rekindled the enthusiasm for learning of students and families who were deeply discouraged by the failures of their neighborhood schools that have been run into the ground by the teachers unions,” Swaim added.

California Policy Center and its supporters helped launch OCCA in 2020, free from teacher union interference. The charter is Orange County’s only tuition-free, K-12 charter school focused on providing a traditional “classical education” to a diverse student body. The classical liberal arts curriculum is centered in classics and great mentors, and includes a phonics-based program for literacy. OCCA does not use Common Core.

540 students are currently enrolled at OCCA in TK through eighth grade. The school has had a long waiting list of students eager to attend OCCA since it opened its doors nearly three years ago. Currently, 1,700 students are on OCCA’s waiting list.

“OCCA is a rare school that doesn’t just work for some kids, it works for all kids,” said Rebecca Holz, director of the Parent Union at California Policy Center, whose three daughters all attend OCCA. “My daughters are all unique learners and OCCA has helped each of them develop a true love of learning.” 

According to the press release issued by Thurmond’s office:

“…California Distinguished Schools represent examples of not just excellent teaching, learning, and collaboration, but also highly successful, data-driven school efforts… The California Distinguished Schools program recognizes schools for their excellent work in one of two categories: closing the achievement gap and achieving exceptional student performance.”

California Distinguished School awardees hold their title for two years.


California Policy Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization working for the prosperity of all Californians by eliminating public-sector barriers to freedom. CPC’s Parent Union works to improve California’s K-12 education system and bring transparency and accountability to California’s public schools. 

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