by Winston Chua
San Marino High School last Friday received more notoriety for their highly prestigious California State Civic Learning Award for Excellence, a distinction given to just three schools in the entire state of California.
And from interning at city hall to reenacting courtroom situations to meeting Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the students showed that they are well-prepared for participation in democracy.
Dignitaries who attended the awards ceremony to recognize San Marino’s historic accomplishment included sponsor and California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw, SMUSD Board Member Chris Norgaard, Assemblyman Ed Chau and Congresswoman Judy Chu. The contest was also sponsored by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Tolakson.
“Civics education is critical to our nation as a community and a country,” said Supt. Loren Kleinrock. “It’s about understanding the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.”
Civic education at San Marino High includes, but is not limited to the engagement of students in the participation of history, law, government, economics and democracy. Throughout the school year, Titans took part in current events, simulations and school governance in ways that 93% said were “new and exciting.”
ASB President Nate Harding facilitated the awards ceremony, which included speeches from high school students, teachers and the aforementioned officials.
“The most important lesson I’ve learned in civics education is the ability to think on your feet so you can respond quickly and decisively,” answered Justice Sakauye, who was asked a question on the spot by student Jonathan Sheu on behalf of the Titan’s speech and debate team.
Students and teachers who participated in the ceremony included Casey Holcomb, Lisa Davidson, Jacqueline Schaedel, Kerry Witzeman, Jessica Chang, Jonathan, Caroline Van Heil and Helena Bugacov, to name a few.
Norgaard emphasized every citizen’s duty to advance civic education, even among those who may not feel like they have to.
In referring to one of the most important lines of the pledge of allegiance, recited in the opening of Friday’s ceremony, Sakauye said “liberty and justice for all means nothing if it’s not for all.”
She praised attendees who help made civics learning and the engagement of those who put it into practice a reality.
“You are wonderfully lucky to have the teachers, lawyers, school board members and judges to assist you in civic education learning,” she concluded. “Open the doors for yourself and others to be a voice in the engagement for democracy to ensure liberty and justice for all.”
The other two schools which won the award for excellence were Alliance Judy Ivie Burton Tech Academy in Los Angeles and Golden Valley High School in Bakersfield.
This was the first school year in which schools were eligible to participate.
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