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 State Supreme Court Chief Justice and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Visit, Praise Schools' Award-Winning Civics Programs

Oak Grove Middle School in Jamul and El Camino Creek Elementary School in Encinitas received visits from two very special guests yesterday: California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. El Camino Creek is the only elementary school and Oak Grove is the only middle school in the state to receive the Civic Learning Award of Excellence, which recognizes model programs that engage students in civic learning. 

Justice Cantil-Sakauye, Superintendent Torlakson, and other guests visiting the schools today spoke with students and teachers involved with each school's civic learning program, hearing first-hand how they school helps students become better citizens and thinkers as they grow into adults. 

Oak Grove’s “Voting Central,” “We the People” Constitution competition, and associated student body elections reached students in all grades, proving that civic learning is accessible to all students and all schools.

“It is exciting and validating to have received statewide recognition for our program for two years in a row,” said Oak Grove Middle School Principal Liz Bystedt. “It reinforces to the staff, community, and students that we are helping our students understand that to be a citizen of the United States and the world, they must become thinkers and questioners. To be named one of the top schools in the state in any area is thrilling!”

El Camino Creek is a Justice School that engages young students in meaningful integrated curriculum that includes mock trials and collaboration with their local Superior Court. The school also involves students in local environmental projects as part of the science program. El Camino Creek is a district model in providing permanent civic education opportunities for all students.

The Civic Learning Award program is co-sponsored by California Supreme Court Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Torlakson. Winners were selected by a panel of experts based on the depth and breadth of their civic learning programs.

“It’s refreshing to see how creative educators and motivated students learn about the power of democracy,” said Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye. “These courses and programs help motivate our leaders of tomorrow.”

San Diego County is home to a number of award-winning civics programs. In addition to El Camino Creek and Oak Grove, the following schools were recognized this year:

  • Flora Vista Elementary (Encinitas Union School District) - Award of Distinction

  • De Portola Middle School (San Diego Unified) - Award of Merit

  • Dingeman Elementary (San Diego Unified) - Award of Merit

  • La Costa Heights Elementary (Encinitas Union School District) - Award of Merit

  • Perry Elementary School (San Diego Unified) - Award of Merit

  • Spring Valley Academy (La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools) - Award of Merit