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News Release

32 California Schools Named Recipients of 2021 Civic Learning Award

Apr 13, 2021

A total of 32 California schools are named this year's recipients of the Civic Learning Awards, an honor which recognizes achievements in civic engagement in the classroom. This year, the awards program put emphasis on school-based efforts that went uninterrupted despite the pandemic.

In the last year, each of these schools moved their classrooms from campuses to computer screens and despite that challenge, they've kept true to their commitment of engaging students in civic learning.

--Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye

Awarded programs will serve as models, giving educators K-12 replicable programs to implement locally as their students pursue the recently approved State Seal of Civic Engagement.

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond co-sponsor the award, now in its ninth year. They will host a virtual meeting with the top schools later this month.

Three top scoring schools earned a Civic Learning Award of Excellence:

  • Katella High School, Orange County
  • Walker Junior High, Orange County
  • Cloud Campus (Elementary), San Diego County

Katella High School (Anaheim) The school is recognized for "Katella Talks," a required program where students learn the “5 Cs” of learning: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and compassion. As part of the program, students present a problem they’d like to fix in their community or certain career field, conduct research and present the topic to their classmates in a “TED Talk” format. For more than five years the program has helped students improve their listening, speaking and writing skills. This year, teachers adapted the program to a remote format. Katella High School received a Civic Learning Award of Merit in 2020. 

Walker Junior High (La Palma) – Every 7th grader at Walker Junior High is required to take a world history class with an emphasis on civics. Students participate in “call to action” campaigns, lead service projects, create public service announcements and participate in student government. Students adapted to distance learning by producing videos and online newspapers to complete their projects. In addition, school administrators incorporated civic learning, planning and implementation in the first goal of their local education plan. Walker Junior High received a Civic Learning Award of Distinction in 2020 and an Award of Merit in 2019.

Cloud Campus (Encinitas)  In 2020, the Encinitas Union School District offered 430 students the opportunity to participate in the the year-long "Cloud Campus" distance learning option, where civics is integrated into elementary classrooms.  In 2020, students participated remotely in activities, including a mock student election, which focused on California ballot measures on affirmative action, voting age limits and consumer privacy. The school also incorporates iCivics resources into its curriculum to further bolster student engagement.

Three schools earned a Civic Learning Award of Distinction:

  • Royal High School, Ventura County
  • Kairos Public Schools Vacaville Academy, Solano County
  • Villa Park Elementary, Orange County

Royal High School (Simi Valley) –The school's Brown Bag Lunch Speakers Series presents a weekly event with guest speakers from local government, businesses and media outlets. During the pandemic, speakers visited with students remotely. The program is open to all students and required for students in certain classes. Royal High School received a Civic Learning Award of Merit in 2019 and 2012 and an Award of Distinction in 2015.

Kairos Public Schools Vacaville Academy (Vacaville) – Middle school students are required to take a community leadership course, where they participate in community service projects that support the school or local businesses. The program helps students learn how to be responsible, active citizens. Kairos Public Schools Vacaville Academy received a Civic Learning Award of Merit in 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2017.

Villa Park Elementary (Villa Park) – Students are required to participate in the Restorative Practices program, considered a hallmark of the school. Whether online or in-person, students in the program discuss issues like race, gender, disability and inequity, often tying them into current events. Villa Park Elementary received a Civic Learning Award of Merit in 2020.

The following schools earned a Civic Learning Award of Merit:

Fresno County–Clovis East High School, Freedom Elementary, Maple Creek Elementary

Los Angeles County–Orange Grove Middle School, Sierra Vista Middle School, Sparks Middle School, Sunset Elementary, William Workman High School, Workman Elementary

Orange County–Anaheim Union High School, Ball Junior High School, Cambridge Virtual Academy, Chapman Hills Elementary, Linda Vista Elementary, Los Coyotes Elementary, Orangethorpe Elementary, Orangeview Junior High School, Oxford Academy, Raymond Temple, Western High School

Riverside County–Perris Elementary

San Diego County–Crawford High, Hoover High School, Mira Mesa High School, The Preuss School (High School)

Stanislaus County–John Pitman High School


Now in its ninth year, the Civic Learning Awards are part of the Chief Justice's Civic Learning Initiative, which includes other programs like Judges in the Classroom. 

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