Pacifica High School Receives State Honor for Excellence in Civic Education

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The Garden Grove Unified School (GGUSD) is proud to announce that Pacifica High School has been selected to receive the Civic Learning Award of Excellence.

The statewide recognition is co-sponsored by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye. Pacifica High School was one of only three schools selected from across California, and the only high school, to receive the Award of Excellence. As part of the recognition, school administrators will receive a plaque, an invitation to the California Gold Ribbon Award Banquet, and a visit from Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye set for April 6th.

“We are proud that Pacifica High School is recognized among the best of the best in California for equipping students with the knowledge and skills to actively engage in important civic issues that impact our communities,” said Teri Rocco, GGUSD Board of Education trustee.

Pacifica High School’s Service Learning Project is in its twelfth year and is the school’s signature civic education practice. The project requires seniors to earn a minimum of 15 hours engaging in civic participation, including volunteering for political campaigns, the county poll worker program, non-profit organizations, or school community action initiatives. The project comes after students learn about civic issues, political participation, and national, state, and local politics in Civics class. By their senior year, nearly all Pacifica students will have completed the Service Learning Project.

For three years, students have participated in a Community Action Project, completing service hours, by studying and developing an action plan for a school issue. Currently, students are creating a campus-wide recycling program which will be in place by the end of the year.
Pacifica has dozens of service-oriented extracurricular clubs and the senior class hosts a longstanding Adopt-a-Child program, which brings hundreds of economically disadvantaged elementary students to Pacifica for a massive holiday event.

Additionally, in November, the ASB hosted a mock presidential election, where all students were invited to vote. All seniors also learned how to register to vote, and many who were 18, completed their registration. Pacifica’s history and social science teachers frequently simulate democratic processes as part of their instruction, including mock trials of historical figures, bill-to-law simulations, political prognostication projects, and mock Supreme Court oral arguments.

The Social Science Department’s “Close Reading” approach to historical texts trains students to investigate claims made in various sources of information. This is something that caught the attention of the Award Committee given the fake news/alternative facts concerns this year.

Pacifica teachers Adam Wemmer, Leslie Ross, and Drew Devoy were instrumental in getting Pacifica recognized for their excellent civic education program.