by George J Elbaum
Amador Valley High School (AVHS) has set a challenging question for its 2640 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 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 10 times in recent years, including 2006-2009, 2011, 2013 and 2014.
In developing the students’ civic responsibility, the study of the Holocaust and reading of Elie Wiesel’s Night is included as part of teacher Stacey Sklar’s Honors Sophomore English course. To augment their Holocaust study, Ms. Sklar and Jack Weinstein of Facing History and Ourselves organized my visit to AVHS. The students were well prepared, and while the schedule was for the usual 90 minutes of presentation and Q&A, student interest and enthusiasm were such that we continued an impromptu discussion and Q&A while standing in a small group for almost another hour. The visit to AVHS was for me very gratifying!