California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye will recognize Cypress High School and Lexington Junior High School on April 2 with Civic Learning Awards of Excellence.

The schools are receiving the highest distinction under the Civic Learning Award program, which is co-sponsored by the Chief Justice and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. The winners were selected by a panel of experts based on the depth and breadth of their civics learning courses/clubs/programs, in line with recommendations from the California Task Force on K-12 Civic Learning for elevating the status of civic learning in public schools. (

“I commend our schools and teachers for their creativity and commitment to civic education,” Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye said. “They are giving students the skills they will need as active participants and leaders in our democracy.”

At Lexington Junior High School, every 7th and 8th grade student participates throughout the year in activities they design themselves that develop and foster student voice. The culminating activity is an annual Tolerance Summit, where the purpose is to create solution oriented citizens, to raise awareness about cultural identity, and to build empathy for diverse community members. Meanwhile, Cypress is being recognized for its Government classes’ civic-action projects, TED talks on public health issues in Anatomy classes, and its Legal Law pathway.

Amber Houston, principal of Lexington Junior High School, gave credit to her teachers for embracing the emphasis on civics education.

“Only through civic learning and engagement can we truly teach our youths to think, speak, and act for themselves,” she said. “Through our activities at Lexington, we have started a lifelong lesson on how to create change and better our world around us. Our students are better for it.”

Dr. Jodie Wales, principal of Cypress High School, said the campus is excited and proud to receive the distinction.

“Cypress High School is committed to being a model of robust civic learning that happens in our public schools, which we believe is the cornerstone of democracy,” she said.

The Anaheim Union High School District is the first district in Orange County to have two schools earn the California Civic Award of Excellence. Additionally, South Junior High School and Savanna High School have earned California Civic Awards of Distinction, while four AUHSD campuses have earned California Civic Awards of Merit: Dale, Brookhurst, and Walker Junior High Schools, along with Oxford Academy. That marks a total of eight statewide civic learning awards for AUHSD, the most of any district in Orange County.

AUHSD is also home to seven California Democracy Schools–two of which were announced just last week–Lexington Junior High School and Katella High School. They join five other campuses with that distinction, including Loara and Savanna High Schools and Dale, South and Brookhurst Junior High Schools. AUHSD has the highest number of Democracy Schools in the state.

“The AUHSD has served as a national model for implementing high-quality civic learning to prepare all their students to be actively engaged in the civic life of our democracy,” said Dr. Michelle Herczog, director of the California Democracy School Initiative and the history/social science coordinator at the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

Anaheim Union Superintendent Michael Matsuda said that “now, more than ever, in these times of uncertainty and declining levels of trust in public institutions, it is important that we put democracy front and center in public schools. “Where else are young people going to learn about democratic practices, which include civic inquiry and action?”

At the April 2 events, the Chief Justice and community leaders will get a first-hand look at the schools’ award-winning civics programs. Participants will also have the opportunity to interact with the students and teachers involved with the programs.

The article above was released by the Anaheim Union High School District.