Kennedy High wins Civic Learning Award, Chief Justice to visit

John F. Kennedy High School in La Palma. Courtesy photo

Three schools in the Anaheim Union High School District have been recognized with the 2024 Civic Learning Awards including John F. Kennedy High School in La Palma, the state education department has announced in a press release.

Now in its 11th year, the awards program is sponsored by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and California Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero, with the goal of celebrating schools that provide first-rate civic education and engagement opportunities.
Among the 21 campuses recognized on Wednesday, John F. Kennedy High School in La Palma was one of only three in the state to earn the Civic Learning Award of Excellence, which comes with a personal visit from Chief Justice Guerrero in the fall.

Anaheim High School and South Junior High, which are also part of the Anaheim Union High School District, were presented with Civic Learning Awards of Merit. Santiago Charter Middle School in the Orange Unified School District received an honorable mention for its civics efforts.

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

“I find these award applications inspiring; they all deserve our recognition,” added Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero. “They tell the important stories of dedicated educators who are, despite the challenges, creatively making room for students to fully understand and practice civics.”

For 2024, the Civic Learning Awards program recognized three schools in California with the Award of Excellence, three with the Award of Distinction, four with the Award of Merit, and 11 with Honorable Mention status. Since launching in 2013, the program has presented a total of 519 awards to traditional, charter, and magnet schools.

Applications for the awards are annually reviewed by a panel comprising representatives from the California courts and the California Department of Education. Schools get additional points if their Local Control and Accountability Plans emphasize civic learning if they participate in the Judges in the Classroom program, or if they establish criteria related to the State Seal of Civic Engagement.