17 public schools from OC celebrated for engaging students in civic education

Seventeen Orange County schools have been recognized with awards from the California Courts system for implementing top-notch civic education programs — and eight of them are in the Anaheim Union High School District.

Statewide, fewer than 100 campuses received Civic Learning Awards through a program co-sponsored by California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye and the state superintendent of public instruction. The accolade was established in 2013 to celebrate schools that deeply engage students in civic learning, and to highlight successful strategies that can be replicated elsewhere.

Four students painting

Lexington Junior High School in the Anaheim Union High School District was one of three schools in California to earn the Civic Learning Award of Excellence. Anaheim Union’s Cypress High also took top honors, as did an elementary school in San Diego County.

Just three schools in California qualified for the highest honor — the Civic Learning Award of Excellence. That tier included the Anaheim Union High School District’s Lexington Junior High School and Cypress High School, along with Flora Vista Elementary School in San Diego County.

“We believe it is the duty of our public schools to ensure that all young people have opportunities to learn about issues impacting them, to have civil discourse about those issues, and to know who is accountable for what,” AUHSD Superintendent Mike Matsuda told the OCDE Newsroom. “I am proud of our teachers for ensuring that this happens in a non-biased, non-partisan manner. Our society, our democracy, and our future depends on it.”

Savanna High School and South Junior High School, also in Anaheim Union, earned two of the six Awards of Distinction. They were joined by Santiago Charter Middle School in the Orange Unified School District.

Finally, a dozen Orange County schools won the program’s Civic Learning Award of Merit, which was presented to 83 campuses statewide. They local winners are:

  • Brookhurst Junior High School, Anaheim Union High School District
  • Oxford Academy, Anaheim Union High School District
  • George B. Miller Elementary School, Centralia School District
  • John R. Peterson Elementary School, Huntington Beach City Elementary School District
  • Walker Junior High School, Anaheim Union High School District
  • Trabuco Mesa Elementary School, Saddleback Valley Unified School District
  • Dale Junior High School, Anaheim Union High School District
  • Doig Intermediate School, Garden Grove Unified School District
  • Fairhaven Elementary School, Orange Unified School District
  • Bolsa Grande High School, Garden Grove Unified School District
  • Santa Ana High School, Santa Ana Unified School District
  • Laguna Beach High School, Laguna Beach Unified School District

Cypress High banner

Civic Learning Awardees are annually selected by a panel of experts based on the depth and breadth of their civic learning classes, clubs and programs, and this year’s top honorees will be formally recognized in April. For more information about the program, or to see a complete list of the winners, visit https://www.courts.ca.gov/civiclearningaward.htm.

Meanwhile, you can expect to hear more about efforts to promote civic education in Orange County. In April, OCDE plans to launch its Civic Learning Partnership, featuring justice officials, educators, business partners and community leaders who will explore ways to boost Constitutional knowledge and civic awareness in local schools and communities.

“OCDE’s Civic Learning Partnership is a collaboration between K-12 educators, judges, attorneys, college professors and local business and community leaders to give our students the best education in the Constitution, our system of government, and in civic engagement,” said Dennis Cole, OCDE’s director of STEM and Humanities. “Through this strong partnership, Orange County students are continually equipped to know how they can be a part of solving any challenges our society may face to make our nation a better place for them and their families.”