8 OC schools considered models for civic learning by California chief justice

Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero announced the winners of the Civic Learning Award of Excellence and Distinction on May 1. The award is co-sponsored by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond with the support of the California Lawyers Association.

California Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero will personally visit two Anaheim Union High School District campuses this fall, as they are among three honorees receiving the 2023 Civic Learning Award of Excellence.  

California Courts' Civic Learning Award logo

Chief Justice Guerrero and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, the award’s co-sponsor, recognized 18 campuses in the state for measurable schoolwide achievements in civics on Law Day, which is recognized on May 1. 

“I chose Law Day to announce the recipients of the Civic Learning Award because this year’s theme is what these awards stand for — honoring schools that recognize how civics, civility and collaboration begin in our classrooms,” said Chief Justice Guerrero. 

She announced this year’s award recipients in a video broadcast on the California Courts’ website and YouTube account. The award honors programs, projects, classes and individuals engaging students in civic education. The process is intended to inspire young people to develop the knowledge, skills and commitments to interact effectively with others, improve their communities and the larger society, and participate in democracy. 

“We know that when young people activate their voices, they can be among the strongest change agents in our communities,” said Superintendent Thurmond. “Education is the cornerstone of realizing our democratic ideals, and these schools have made extraordinary contributions to building the leaders of tomorrow.”

Dale Junior High School and Gilbert High School from the Anaheim Union High School District join Maple Creek Elementary School from the Clovis Unified School District in earning the Civic Learning Award of Excellence. 

The Dale Junior High campus adopted project-based learning, which empowers students to explore, research and engage with diverse projects in both local and global communities. They have shown interest in topics such as water conservation, civic rights and social justice. These activities allow students to identify critical societal issues, develop a deep understanding of their root causes and articulate compelling arguments in favor of change. 

At Gilbert High, students learn about the U.S. Constitution, the First Amendment and the three branches of government through the school’s 17-minute “Power Up” lessons and civic engagement projects. To put their knowledge into practice, the students form teams to create mock political parties, research issues and develop solutions. 

The California Courts system also acknowledged two schools in Los Angeles County and one from Sacramento County with a Civic Learning Award of Distinction. 

Next, two additional schools in the Anaheim Union district joined campuses in four other counties in receiving the Civic Learning Award of Merit. They are: 

  • Anaheim High School (Anaheim Union High School District)
  • South Junior HIgh School (Anaheim Union High School District)

Lastly, four school sites in Orange County — including three more from Anaheim Union — earned an honorable mention alongside campuses in five other counties. They are:

  • Los Coyotes Elementary School (Centralia Elementary School District)
  • Sycamore Junior High School (Anaheim Union High School District)
  • Ball Junior High School (Anaheim Union High School District)
  • Katella High School (Anaheim Union High School District)

In total, 38 California schools submitted applications, with 13 campuses applying for the first time. 

The Civic Learning Awards were launched in 2011 and are part of the Chief Justice’s Civic Learning Initiative, which is supported by statewide partners to improve civic education in California. 

For more information about the program, or to see a complete list of the winners, visit https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/news/california-schools-honored-civic-learning-award.