24 OC schools honored for engaging students in civic education

The California Courts system has recognized two dozen Orange County public schools for creating exemplary civics education programs and bringing service-learning projects to their communities.

Statewide, 75 campuses received Civic Learning Awards through a program co-sponsored by California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye and State Superintendent Tony Thurmond. The accolade was created back in 2013 to celebrate schools that deeply engage students in civic learning and to highlight successful strategies that can be replicated elsewhere.

Savanna High School exterior

Savanna High 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 South Junior High also took top honors, as did an elementary school in San Diego County.

The Anaheim Union High School District and the Centralia Elementary School District were this year’s biggest winners, netting a total of 19 awards between them.

“Our civic-engagement work with our young people reaches across the curriculum, reinforcing their identity, connecting their passions with classroom content, and making learning more relevant and meaningful to them,” Anaheim Superintendent Mike Matsuda said.

“We are dedicated to making this investment in our students to help develop an educated, robust, vital citizenry for our state, our nation and beyond,” Matsuda added. “And we are excited and encouraged by the results and what they mean for the future of our democracy.”

AUHSD campuses won 14 awards overall, and for the second straight year the district took two of three spots in the top awards tier. Savanna High School and South Junior High were both recipients of the Award of Excellence, which is presented to just one elementary school, one middle school and one high school in California.

La Costa Heights Elementary in San Diego County also earned an Award of Excellence. All three of these schools will receive congratulatory visits from Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye.

Here’s what the program had to say about Savanna High and South Junior High schools:

  • “All students participate in the Raising Student Voice and Participation program at Savanna High School. Over the course of a year, each class identifies and seeks solutions to a problem on campus. In Economics classes, students use Google Maps to choose a vacant lot and create a video to pitch a valuable project for the community. Government class students can train as poll workers and many work 15-hour shifts on election day.”
  • “Students at South Junior prepare and deliver two-minute “soapbox” speeches that include a call to action on issues of importance, such as the death penalty, gun laws, and college tuition. They later deliver their speeches before a panel of local judges. The school also created its own “Soapbox Night,” giving students the opportunity to present issues they are passionate about in a public platform.”

Schools from Anaheim Union also took two of the six Awards of Distinction. AUHSD’s Walker Junior High School and Loara High School were joined by Centralia’s San Marino Elementary School in this category.

Finally, 19 Orange County campuses earned the program’s Civic Learning Award of Merit, which was presented to 66 schools statewide. The local winners in this category are:

  • Brookhurst Junior High School, Anaheim Union High School District
  • ​Dale Junior High School, Anaheim Union High School District
  • Santiago Charter Middle School, Orange Unified School District
  • Ball Junior High School, Anaheim Union High School District
  • Sycamore Junior High School, Anaheim Union High School District
  • Orangeview Junior High School, Anaheim Union High School District
  • Anaheim High School, Anaheim Union High School District
  • Western High School, Anaheim Union High School District
  • John F. Kennedy High School, Anaheim Union High School District
  • Garden Grove High School, Garden Grove Unified School District
  • Katella High School, Anaheim Union High School District
  • Oxford Academy, Anaheim Union High School District
  • Chapman Hills Elementary School, Orange Unified School District
  • Buena Terra Elementary School, Centralia Elementary School District
  • George B. Miller Elementary School, Centralia Elementary School District
  • Raymond Temple Elementary School, Centralia Elementary School District
  • Los Coyotes Elementary School, Centralia Elementary School District
  • Linda Vista Elementary School, Orange Unified School District
  • Villa Park Elementary School, Orange Unified School District

Civic Learning Award winners are determined by a panel of experts based on the depth and breadth of their civic learning classes, clubs and programs.

For more information about the program, or to see a complete list of the winners, visit www.courts.ca.gov/civiclearningaward.htm.