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Civic Learning Award recognizes Irvington High School

By Miriam G. Mazliach

May 14, 2013

The Associate Justice of the California State Supreme Court, the Honorable Ming Chin, visited Irvington High School on April 29 to recognize and thank students for their civic involvement. Over 300 students and staff filled the school’s Valhalla Theater to hear him speak about the students’ community oriented service efforts. Various city and state representatives, as well as Fremont School Board members also had the opportunity to say a few words to those in attendance.

“Civic learning and involvement programs are incredible. Students are learning about government, getting involved and engaged in the issues, which is a very important part of volunteering,” stated his Hon. Ming Chin. “I’m here today to commend the students and faculty and recognize their work.” He further explained that retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has been very active in bringing attention to service learning.

The Civic Learning Award for CA Public High Schools, co-sponsored by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakuaye, was earned by Irvington High for its Benchmark projects which are civic, community involvement/volunteering projects completed by Irvington students during their freshman, sophomore and senior years.

Associate Justice Ming Chin presented the school’s students and staff with their Civic Learning Award of Distinction plaque, to recognize the importance of their active participation in our democracy.

Teachers Cheryl Cook-Kallio (AP U.S. History/Government/We the People) and Susan Piekarski (World History/AP Government) submitted the school’s application for the award and were instrumental in having Irvington’s accomplishments acknowledged.

At the ceremony, several students spoke about the impact that working on their service projects had on their lives. One of them stated, “Community service is necessary. It is the vehicle by which we exercise our passion and role in the world.”

Cook-Kallio is emphatic in her support of Service Learning Education. “As a service learning high school, we are a model of what ‘doing good’ is about and engaged citizenry,” said Cook-Kallio. “At the end of four years, the senior class here, on average, donates 55,000 documented hours volunteering their time. That’s how we know it works. It’s different here as compared to other schools; we start them as freshmen to latch onto something to get interested about-- benchmarks -- to focus on a particular interest,” she added.

Associate Justice Ming Chin ended his remarks by stating, “You are the future citizens not only of Fremont but the world. Focus on education; it’s important for students to be educated on our constitutional democracy. You are living it so go out into that big, bad world and make a lot of changes. Teachers here have taught [you] citizenship and involvement. This is an outstanding effort for high quality Civics Education. Thank you for all the good you are doing in our community,” he said.

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