Granite LJE earns State Civic Learning Award

The Granite Hills High School Law, Justice and Ethics Pathway is now distinguished in more ways than one.

The LJE Pathway is one of 10 Porterville Unified School District Pathways that has been recognized as Distinguished by NAF, formerly known as the National Academy Foundation, which works to advance career and technical education to make students college career and future ready.

Now The LJE Pathway has earned a 2024 State Civic Learning Award. The award recipients were announced last week.

The LJE Pathway was among 21 schools in the state to be honored with Civic Learning Awards, an honor that recognizes measurable schoolwide achievements in civics. The award program, now in its 11th year, is co-sponsored by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and California Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero.

“We know that when young people activate their voices, they can be among the strongest change agents in our communities,” said Thurmond. “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,” said Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero. “They tell the important stories of dedicated educators who are, despite the challenges, are creating room for students to fully understand and practice civics.”

The LJE Pathway was among 11 who were recognized with the Civic Learning Honorable Mention Award.

Three schools were honored with the Civic Learning Award of Excellence: Madera Elementary School, Ventura County; Natomas Pacific Pathways Preparatory Middle School and High School, Sacramento County; John F. Kennedy High School, Orange County

Three schools earned a Civic Learning Award of Distinction: Ida Jew Academy and Valle Vista Elementary School, San Jose, Santa Clara County; Newton Middle School, Hacienda Heights, Los Angeles County; Yerba Buena High School, San Jose, Santa Clara County.

Schools that earned the Civic Learning Award of Merit were: Los Angeles County - Workman Elementary School (Hacienda la Puente Unified); Orange County - Anaheim High School (Anaheim Union High School District); South Junior High School (Anaheim Union High School District); Santa Clara County: Daves Avenue Elementary School (Los Gatos Unified).

Other schools that earned Civic Learning Honorable Mention were: Fresno County - Garfield Elementary School (Clovis Unified); Tarpey Elementary School (Clovis Unified); Maple Creek Elementary School (Fresno Unified); Los Angeles County - Sierra Vista Middle School (Hacienda la Puente Unified); Sparks Middle School (Hacienda la Puente Unified); Orange County - Santiago Charter Middle School (Orange Unified); Riverside County - Norte Vista High School (Riverside Unified) ; Sacramento County - Cordova High School (Folsom-Cordova Unified); Santa Clara County - Santa Clara High School (Santa Clara Unified); Mount Madonna High School (Gilroy Unified).

In announcing the awards the state referred to Granite's LJE Pathway as the first “court school” to apply for the award.

Applications are reviewed and scored by a panel of judges that comprises representatives from the California courts and the California Department of Education who are not tied to any of the applicants.

Among the other criteria is participation in the State Seal of Civic Engagement program and Granite's LJE Pathway participates extensively in that program.

The Civic Learning Awards began in 2013 and are part of the Chief Justice's Civic Learning Initiative, which is led by the Power of Democracy Steering Committee.

The application process for the award was an extensive one. With the help of Deanna Jasso, Granite Hills LJE Pathway lead teacher Jane Kisling completed the application. Jasso is the South County Justice Center director of court administration. “Deanna Jasso was amazing,” Kisling said.

“It takes a village,” added Kisling about all those responsible for the award. She credited the leadership of the District's Pathways Department and those such as retired Assistant District Attorney Robert Dempsie for Granite's LJE Pathway earning the award.

“Most importantly the students,' said Kisling about the students deserving the most credit. “We couldn't do it without them.”

“We just give then the tools and they do the work,” Kisling said that leads to the “accolades were able to put down on paper.”

There were a number of questions that had to be answered on the application. The application covers the State Seal of Civics Engagement. To receive the seal students must demonstrate a skilled understanding of the U.S. and California Constitutions.

“The change in civic engagement is evidenced by the increase in the number of students participating in the State Seal of Civics Engagement,” Granite's LJE application states.

“Our school is interested in working with schools of lower or upper grades to build pathways for our students to earn the Seal of Civic Engagement,” the application also states.

One of the LJE's civic engagement projects is providing a chance for all of Granite's seniors in social studies classes a chance to register to vote. Another State Seal of Civic Engagement project is beginning a club and awareness of chances for voting in the state. The student working on this project hopes to give at least one or two chances for students 16 years old and older to preregister.

Granite's LJE Pathway also helped organize a Youth Civic Engagement Showcase in April in which students in the district were able to give presentations on how they were involved civically in the community.

In addition the application stated “Discussing local, national and international issues is common in our LJE courses.

The application covered the number of community civic programs and projects students volunteer for as well. “Community engagement is a vital part of our LJE program,” the application stated. Source: Porterville Recorder