May 20, 2022
By Kelli Gile, WVUSD Office of Community Resources
WALNUT, CA-- Walnut High School social science teachers are delivering high-quality civic learning lessons through curriculum and projects that encourage students at all grade levels become engaged.
On May 7, as recognition for these outstanding efforts, the school was lauded as a 2022 California Democracy School by the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) during a ceremony at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library.
Only two L.A. County high schools received the award for demonstrating an extraordinary dedication to civics – whether providing forums for healthy debate, campaigning on community issues, or partnering with local groups to effect changes.
“We presented opportunities for our students to choose from a wide variety of topics that they already had an interest in,” shared teacher Aaron Cornell, adding that faculty served as a guide and sounding board on the projects.
The civic-minded teens tackled topics such as forgiving student debt, mandatory COVID vaccines for children, legalizing recreational marijuana, and reforming the electoral college.
“The best part about this project is that it is student driven,” echoed division colleague Drew Johansson.
“Our role is really to keep them on course and allow them to hopefully pursue change in something they are passionate about.”
Class of 2022 seniors completed capstone projects using these skills to research, engage in civil discourse, and reach out to local politicians.
Students discussed pro and con arguments which ultimately helped formulate proposals they sent to legislative officials with the hopes of making a difference in an area that matters to them, Cornell added.
This spring, the seniors met with LACOE representatives to present their findings and learning experiences from the capstone projects.
“Most of the learning we do in school is about things that interest someone else,” offered senior Madison Hsieh.
“It was nice to be able to choose a topic that matters to us and then try to do something about it to make the world a better place, even if it is only in a small way."
In addition to being named a California Democracy School, all Walnut High seniors will receive a State Seal of Civic Engagement on their diplomas when they graduate on May 26.
Congratulations teachers Bill Bosanko, Pat Collins, Aaron Cornell Jane Han, Drew Johannsen, Jerry Knox, Brett Landis, David Park, Nick Madrid, Justin Panlilio, Eric Peralta, Robert Sandoval, Andrea Takahashi, and instructional dean Nelson Chen.
Walnut High received the LACOE California Democracy School award during a May 7 ceremony at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library.