Monday, June 29, 2009

University City High and Serra High schools honored by Hate Crimes Coalition

Reporters and editors: Here's an annoucement from Unity in Action
honoring two of our high schools. If you need more information, contact
Chris Saunders from Unity in Action (see below).

Jack Brandais
Communications Department
San Diego Unified School District
(619) 607-0477 (cell)
(619) 725-5570 (desk)


San Diego Regional Hate Crimes Coalition
News Release
Contact: Chris Saunders
June 29, 2009

Hate Crimes Coalition Gives 2009 Unity in Action Award
To University City High and Serra High Schools

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Regional Hate Crimes Coalition's (SDRHCC) has
given two first place awards in its annual Unity in Action contest. The
winners are University City High's Power of One program and Serra High's
ELEVATED Student Relations Committee.

The SDRHCC's 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

"On behalf of the San Diego Regional Hate Crimes Coalition, we are
extremely impressed with the two local high school programs from
University City High and Serra High, which are co-winners of our Unity
in Action Contest for 2009," said Deputy District Attorney Oscar Garcia,
who is the Chairman of the SDRHCC.

"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, which is to promote the appreciation of diversity
and the prevention of bias motivated behavior. 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," Garcia added.

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."

"It is such a special honor for the students who rarely get recognized
in a celebratory and positive way for the efforts they invest in making
the world a better place," added Ms. Stanley, the teacher who teaches
the Power of One. "These students have worked for months with each other
on volunteer projects and making the garden such a special place. Today
they celebrate! "

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."

"Receiving the Unity in Action Award this year was more than ELEVATED
could've asked for. ELEVATED students, advisors, and even the school
staff were very proud to hear about this award," McClain added. "Not
only being recognized for their hard work, but also giving the students
more opportunity to grow within their own lives, as well as the growing
potential to reach out to others, is what keeps them going. We have seen
graduates from Serra High move onto college and use their leadership
skills to play a role in similar groups. Our hope is to gain
sustainability and expand out with this group."

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.

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