Sunset High School’s approach to teaching its students and their willingness to share what they learned with their younger peers has received recognition from the state.

Del Norte County Unified School District’s alternative school was one of 65 in California to receive a 2018 Civic Learning Award of Merit. The award came from the California Department of Education in conjunction with the Judicial Council of California, said Principal Tony Fabricus.

“It’s more just a recognition of some of the great things we do here that we don’t really promote and show everybody,” Fabricus said. “Our students in many ways are at risk and they are students that are resilient. That’s a huge word for our kids, resilient, and they are.”

In his application for the award, Fabricus cited the school’s practice of having its students research and design activities to share with visiting youngsters in 3rd and 5th grades. Themes have included American Indian Culture and Experience, which includes addressing issues like the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the Gold Rush and genocide, as well as the national park system, agriculture science and natural disasters.

“Students research 3rd and 5th-grade social studies, math and science standards, then develop engaging meaningful activities as well as ‘take-home’ products to share with our visiting elementary students,” Fabricus wrote in his application. “We have developed an interpretive redwood trail that we’ve imagined as a timeline for westward expansion with hands-on activity stations exploring Redwood roots, native uses of plants, examples of logging using a two-person saw and the impact of invasive noxious species (English ivy).”

Fabricus also cited a sister school relationship between Sunset and Margaret Keating Elementary School in Klamath as well as a partnership with Addie Meedom House and Crescent City Skilled Nursing to honor members of the Greatest Generation.

On Friday, Fabricus told the Triplicate that Sunset students will be learning about the Greatest Generation, those who came of age during the 1940s and 1950s, on March 15 and will visit Addie Meedom House and the Crescent City Skilled Nursing on March 16.

Fabricus said this is the second year in a row the state has recognized Sunset’s achievements. Last year, the school received a Green Ribbon Award from the California Department of Education.

The school’s focus on environmental science in its students’ interactions with their younger peers was one of the deciding factors on winning the 2017 Green Ribbon Award, Fabricus said.

The California Department of Education and the Judicial Council’s Civic Learning Awards celebrates public schools’ efforts to engage students in civic learning. The awards program is co-sponsored by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and Chief Justice of California Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye.

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