Tony Thurmond
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.

La Costa Heights Elementary School earned State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond’s highest honor in his 2020 Civic Learning Awards, it was announced Thursday.

The elementary school, in the Encinitas Union School District, earned the award after fifth-graders picked a state bill to research and advocate for with their state legislators. Students focused on pay equity with Assembly Bill 271 and presented their findings and recommendations to lawmakers. They also helped design and install 40 environmentally friendly drop boxes in the community for voters to cast absentee ballots.

The school has received the Award of Distinction and the Award of Merit in previous years. This is the first year it received the Award of Excellence.

Thurmond awarded 75 California public schools.

Now in its eighth year, the awards program is co-sponsored by Thurmond and Chief Justice of California Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye.

The awards are designed to celebrate successful efforts to engage students in civic learning and identify successful models that can be replicated in other schools.

“As a passionate supporter of civics, I’m so proud of these schools for engaging students in civics early, which helps engage them for life,” Thurmond said. “During my time both as a civics teacher and in the state legislature, I’ve always encouraged students to get involved. My office continues to be open for students to share their ideas on new bills on whatever issues affect them, anything from keeping college affordable to student housing.”

The two other schools to earn the excellence award were South Junior High School and Savanna High School, both in Orange County.

Park Dale Lane Elementary in Encinitas was the only San Diego County school to win the award of distinction — the second-highest honor. Liberty Charter High School in Lemon Grove earned an award of merit.

— City News Service