Monday, June 29, 2009

Serra, UC high schools get '09 "Unity in Action Award"

Serra High’s ELEVATED Student Relations Committee and University City High’s Power of One program have received first place awards in the annual Unity in Action contest from the San Diego Regional Hate Crimes Coalition.

The Unity in Action contest was developed as a way to recognize programs in our schools that promote unity, diversity and/or tolerance. The Coalition found that there are many excellent programs in San Diego County.

“Both of these programs -- University City’s The Power of One and Serra’s Elevated Students Relations Committee -- clearly embrace the mission of the Hate Crimes Coalition” said Deputy District Attorney Oscar Garcia, who is Coalition Chairman.

"We promote the appreciation of diversity and the prevention of bias motivated behavior," he said. "It is certainly refreshing to find our youth committing themselves in such a positive manner for the betterment of our community. We are proud to honor them with this award.”

University City High’s Power of One is a program within a class, which has a goal of personal responsibility through diverse teamwork and community role models, according to its contest entry form.

“The Power of One is an ordinary psychology class doing extraordinary things,” its teacher, Lauriann Stanley, said. “The curriculum is modeled on a university course entitled Happiness 101. The basic premise is that students are unhappy today because they feel they can not make a difference in their world. This course gives to them the opportunity to daily do something for others. After in-depth psychological studies, the course requirements include weekly volunteer projects, random acts of kindness, letters of appreciation, cultural plunges, guest speakers and intensive group discussions.”

Serra High’s ELEVATED Student Relations Committee is an all-inclusive group with the main goal of unifying the diverse groups on the school’s campus, according to its entry form.

“ELEVATED is about breaking down barriers and creating unity,” according to the program’s advisor Krissie McClain. “Two of the topics they chose to work on this year were racial segregation and homophobia. The goal is to start out small-scale on Serra High's campus and further reach out to other schools, families, and the community.”

The San Diego Regional Hate Crimes Coalition was formed eleven years ago to unite law enforcement agencies with community-based organizations to tackle issues presented by hate crimes in our community. Members of the Coalition include representatives from all law enforcement agencies in the county and members of many diverse community-based organizations.