Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo
California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #21-31
April 21, 2021
Contact: Communications
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Announces 2021 Civic Learning Award Recipients

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that 32 schools won this year’s Civic Learning Awards, which celebrate public schools’ efforts to engage students in civic learning. This year, the awards emphasize school-based efforts that went uninterrupted despite the pandemic. Now in its ninth year, the awards program is co-sponsored by State Superintendent Thurmond and Chief Justice of California Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye and is part of the Chief Justice's Civic Learning Initiative External link opens in new window or tab..

“I’m so proud of these schools for keeping students engaged in civic learning during a pandemic, especially as our country grapples with serious social and civic conversations and actions that can reimagine governance at all levels,” said State Superintendent Thurmond. “I’m a passionate supporter of civics education, which not only engages students, but often inspires them to make a difference for their communities. During my time both as a civics teacher and in the State Legislature, I've always encouraged students to get involved. My office continues to be open for students to share their ideas; I’ve heard from so many students during this pandemic, and their voices are crucial now more than ever.”

“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,” said Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye.

In addition, three teachers, a community organizer, and District Superintendent Michael Matsuda, Anaheim Union High School District, are among the Champions of Civics being honored with a 2021Civic Learning Award.

Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and State Superintendent Thurmond will host a virtual meeting with the top schools and champions today.

Last fall, the State Board of Education adopted criteria and guidance to award a State Seal of Civic Engagement to California students who demonstrate excellence in civics education and participation, and an understanding of the United States Constitution, the California Constitution, and the democratic system of government. By adopting these criteria, California joined a small but growing number of states that formally recognize and promote student civic engagement with seals to affix to student transcripts, diplomas, or certificates of completion.

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

Katella High School(Anaheim)—Katella High is being 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 also received a Civic Learning Award of Merit in 2020.

Walker Junior High(La Palma)—Every seventh 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 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(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

# # # #

Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Recently Posted in News Releases