ACEL Charter School Fresno Received Civic Learning Award of Distinction

It is a few years back, but let’s take a look at a special project. In 2015, students and staff from the City of Fresno Academy for Civic and Entrepreneurial Leadership (ACEL) traveled to the Reagan Library to be recognized for exemplary civic learning and service in Fresno.

ACEL Charter School Fresno was selected to receive the Civic Learning Award of Distinction, co-sponsored by Chief Justice of California Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. ACEL is one of 13 high schools in the state to receive this award and the first in Fresno County.

Leaders of the California Task Force on K-12 Civic Learning recognized the innovative project-based learning program at ACEL and students will lead a workshop for educators on how community service projects enhance civic learning. The 35 students and staff also toured the Reagan Library.

Instruction at the Academy for Civic and Entrepreneurial Leadership (ACEL) emphasizes the real-world relevance of academic knowledge and skills, through service projects to improve the community. Service-Learning connects meaningful community service with academic learning, personal growth, and civic responsibility. Students are inspired to renew the vision of the U. S. Founders and adapt it to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century. Students are empowered to become civic and entrepreneurial leaders.

Examples of ACEL Projects:
1. Students volunteer with Fresno Habitat for Humanity to support community events and build a playground in Southwest Fresno.
2. Students volunteer for Green 360 Careers, a partnership with WestEd and PG&E.
Students map and share information on emerging green jobs, using a graphic information system.
3. Physics class students work with PG&E advisors to learn to do energy audits.
4. The Tribal Chair of the North Fork Mono Tribe leads students to work on watershed restoration projects on the San Joaquin River.
5. Students built a vegetable garden in Chukchansi Stadium and give tours to demonstrate how fans can grow their own food at home.
6. The ACEL Save Your Life team produced videos to inform teenagers about the dangers of depression, alcohol, and drugs.

This project-based learning led to ACEL being awarded the Civic Learning Award of Distinction by the CA Department of Education. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said, “We honor the educators who translate civic education into creative and effective learning programs, thereby creating models for other educators, and we honor the students who participate in these active and inspiring learning communities.” You may also want to see this post on the new Fresno Football Club, another great community development initiative.

The Academy for Civic and Entrepreneurial Leadership is a free public charter high school in downtown Fresno operating under the Fresno Unified School District. The Academy of Civic and Entrepreneurial Leadership (ACEL) Charter High School is beginning its 7th year as a charter high school, serving students who seek an alternative to traditional education, preventing many dropouts. Last June they graduated 100% of their senior class.

A few years ago (in 2014), students from the Academy for Civic and Entrepreneurial Leadership (ACEL) took first place in the Pacing Competition at the California Forestry Challenge. Students engaged in rigorous training by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) in the Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest (MHDSF), above 6,000′ elevation in the Sierra Nevada in Tulare County.

The ACEL students were amazed to experience the rugged forest surrounding the Giant Sequoias and to learn forestry practices from CalFire leaders. Martin Herrera, a freshman at ACEL, said, “It’s fun to see the Rangers cut a tree and work in the forest. It’s so quiet and peaceful here. I want to stay.”

After three days of training, collecting data and two field trips in the forest, teams from three schools had to present a prescription for regenerating Giant Sequoias in MHDSF. All teams in the competition were praised by CalFire leaders for their understanding of forestry principles and practices and the quality of their presentations. See also this post about Fresno City College.

The California Forestry Challenge is a challenging and competitive event for interested high school students in today’s forestry issues. (http://www.forestrychallenge.org)

Instruction at the Academy for Civic and Entrepreneurial Leadership (ACEL) emphasizes the real-world relevance of academic knowledge and skills, through service projects to improve the community. This project-based learning led to ACEL being awarded the Civic Learning Award of Distinction by the CA Department of Education.

The Academy for Civic and Entrepreneurial Leadership is a free public charter high school in downtown Fresno (www.acelfresno.org). ACEL Charter High School is beginning its 7th year as a charter high school, serving students who seek an alternative to traditional education, preventing many dropouts.