by George J Elbaum
Amador Valley High School (AVHS) has set a challenging question for its 2700 students to explore: “How will you A.I.D. your world?” wherein A stands for Academic Achievement, I for Innovative Thinking, and D for Demonstration of Civic Responsibility. The school success in academic achievement is shown by being deemed a three-time California Distinguished School, a National School of Character, and a two-time National Blue Ribbon School. The Daily Beast/Newsweek ranked Amador Valley High School 238th in its 2012 list of the 1,000 Best High Schools in America. This success in academics is paralleled in AVHS’s extracurricular activities such as music, theater, and athletics, as well as the development of civic awareness and responsibility in its students. In national competitions such as We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution, the Amador Valley team has ranked in the top four places many times.
In developing the students’ civic responsibility, a strong multi-week exploration of the Holocaust, its historical context and its literature, including Elie Wiesel’s Night, are an integral part of teacher Stacey Sklar’s Honors Sophomore English. (Ms. Sklar is among the teachers in Pleasanton’s schools who have accessed training and resources from Facing History and Ourselves over several years.) To augment the Holocaust study, Ms. Sklar and Jack Weinstein of Facing History organized my visit to AVHS. The students were very well prepared and the schedule was for the usual 90 minutes of presentation and Q&A, but their interest and enthusiasm were such that we continued an impromptu discussion and Q&A while standing in a group for almost another hour – it was very gratifying!
(Help with replacing the ?? below with students’ names, pls?)