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Student Voices at Philadelphia’s Central High Receives $100,000 Award

The Student Voices program at Philadelphia’s Central High School, led by teachers Stan Levy, William Graham and Michael Horwits, has been recognized with a $100,000 award to further civic engagement among students and communities. Central is one of seven schools nationwide to receive the award. The awards were presented by AARP, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The Central teachers’ “Power of Student Voices” project entry, a culmination of three years of Student Voices programming, included prize-winning Civics Fair entries, last year’s mayoral forum held at the high school (view the forum), and ongoing student civics projects. The award was officially presented to Philadelphia School District Chief of Staff Claudia Averette and Central High Principal Sheldon Pavel at the school on Tuesday, May 6.

“Our Student Voices curriculum serves as an invaluable tool to our students, educating them on the social implications and impact of activism within our society,” said Averette. “Thanks to corporate partners like AARP, the program’s continued implementation and expansion will only lead to more informed, politically savvy voters, and most importantly, future community activists.”

The Student Voices curriculum is in use in all of Philadelphia’s high schools, and used in districts around the U.S. It is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Student Voices is designed to help students develop civic awareness through the direct study of government, voting and the election process (For more information:

“Through the generous $100,000 award being presented to us today by AARP, we will be able to expand upon the vision of our Student Voices curriculum,” said Dr. Pavel at Tuesday’s ceremony. “We will utilize this award to fund our technology needs and media literacy curriculum and support the District’s continued education initiatives.”

Other schools receiving the $100,000 prize are located in Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, Miami and Washington. The Ethel Percy Andrus Legacy Awards are named in honor of the founder of AARP, a pioneer in public education in the state of California.

Another Philadelphia-area school was also singled out by AARP for recognition. Norristown Area High School, in suburban Norristown, Pa., received a $10,000 grant for its Family Advocacy System program.

In celebration of its 50th birthday, AARP will team up with WHYY, the Philadelphia public broadcasting station, to host a taping of “Washington Week in Review with Gwen Ifill & National Journal” on Friday, May 9, at the University of Pennsylvania’s Irvine Auditorium.

Student Voices is a national, nonpartisan civic education initiative in which students study their local government, policy issues and political campaigns. Along with online local government and elections curricula, lesson plans and teacher training materials, the Student Voices website provides classes across the country with research tools, moderated discussions and daily news stories about government and policy issues.