2017 Photo Contest Winners!

High school students across California recently submitted entries to the LegiSchool Project’s “California Through My Eyes” photography contest. This contest tasks students with capturing images that are pertinent to California and accompanying them with a brief artist’s statement. Shared themes were California’s unique diversity, our stunning landscape, and post-drought shots of the snow!

This year was also a record breaking year! We ended up receiving 520 photos. A selection of judges were then required to narrow down the photos to the top 12% (featured below). Our top photos were judged by interim Director Elisia Hoffman, Sacramento State’s Media Production Specialist Jessica Vernone and Sacramento State’s Photographer and Design Coordinator Bruce Clark.

Many thanks to the 57 schools that participated in our contest! We also want to thank the district and legislative offices that did outreach to their constituents!

These photos will also be on display at the California State Capitol from July 10th-August 10th (originally June 15th-July 15th), located on the third floor of the annex.

And without further delay, the results:

Grand Prize Winner ($150)

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Elysse Caballero, Community Health Advocates School at Augustus F. Hawkins High School

Elysse’s winning photo, “Source of Activism” shows a mother and child marching for immigration rights in Los Angeles. Elysse, in her statement, notes how hard immigrants work and fight for what they believe in. “The mother represents the source of activism; the child is receiving a flag from his older sister and you can see the happiness it brings to be in that environment….people of different cultures came together fighting for many different issues in the community, which are all important to California.”

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Our Cartoon Contest Winners!

Each year, California high school students from around the state submit their cartoons to our newest contest, our editorial cartoon contest. We encourage students to submit cartoons inspired by issues unique to California. This contest is a great way to encourage students to express themselves through creating political cartoons. Our winners receive cash prizes and have their artwork published by one of our partners, KQED’s The Lowdown.

The variety of cartoons we received this year was impressive and choosing just five winners was extremely tough! Many thanks to the 22 schools that participated: El Monte High School, Culver City High School, Herbert Hoover High School, Warren High School, Sacramento High School, Granada Hills Charter High School, Terra Linda High School, John F. Kennedy High School, NP3 Charter High School, Gerber Jr/Sr High School, Poway High School, Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary High School, Berkeley High School, American Canyon High School, Dinuba High School, North & South Torrance High School, Irvine High School, Richard Gahr High School, North Salinas High School, Gretchen Whitney High School, and Aspire Ollin University Prep High School. 

Want to receive an update for next year’s cartoon contest? Sign up to be on our mailing list! 

And without further delay, the results: Continue reading

Essay Winners Visit Sacramento!

On Wednesday, March 8th LegiSchool had the pleasure of hosting 10 high school students at our annual Legislative Summit, held at the State Capitol. Our essay contest winners had the opportunity to speak with members of the state legislature; as well as education policy experts on the topic of deciding to delay school start times.

To start the day, students were given an introduction to state government by the Executive Director of the Center for California Studies, Steve Boilard. We then welcomed our panelists, Assemblymember O’Donnell, Jeanice Warden, and Senator Portantino to discuss with our students a new bill (SB 328) on delaying school start times. While students had the opportunity to ask the panelists questions, they witnessed lawmakers tackle education policy firsthand.

In the afternoon, students were led on a VIP tour of the State Capitol. They visited the Assembly and Senate galleries. Students were then introduced to the legislative side of the building. Their guide discussed with them the next generation’s role in state government and encouraged them to participate early.

all students, tour 2.jpgPhoto taken by Fountain Valley High School teacher Sean Ziebarth

Following the tour, students attended their final panel. This panel focused on the policy concerns of delaying school start times. Education representatives from the state, district and county answered students’ questions on school funding, local vs. state government and how the proposed legislation (SB 328) would affect their communities.


The day ended with the students visiting their representative’s offices. Each student left their member’s offices excited after being individually recognized and congratulated by their representatives.  For some students, this is a once in a lifetime chance and we are so pleased students enjoyed themselves in Sacramento!

Many thanks to the panelists, chaperones, presenters, lawmakers and their staff that contributed to making our summit a success!


Students Critical of Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles have been getting some attention from local, state, and national levels. Companies such as Google, Uber, and General Motors have begun testing this new technology. LegiSchool’s Town Hall on autonomous vehicles gave students the opportunity to voice their concerns and ask challenging questions to a panel of knowledgeable experts.

In order to prepare the students for the topic, they were given a curriculum guide. Included in the guide is a thorough introduction to autonomous vehicles; as well as activities for students to start thinking critically about this emerging technology. These curriculum guides can also serve as a great tool for students who are unable to attend the Town Halls in person.

During the Town Hall panel, most students were hesitant to embrace autonomous vehicles, and this was voiced through their critical questions of the panelists. The dialogue gave the policy experts some ideas on what students worried about most (liability, ethical dilemmas, safety and the future of licensing). By the end of the panel, some students left with a different view, while others continued to voice concerns.

After lunch, students were welcomed by Capitol staffers and led on tours throughout the Capitol. Students had the privilege of visiting the Assembly and Senate Galleries, as well as locating their member’s offices.

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Many thanks to our panelists that participated (left to right):

  • Captain Sean Duryee, Commander of Commercial Vehicle Section for the California CHP
  • Lieutenant Reggie Williams, Government Relations for the California CHP
  • Juanita Martinez, Western Regional Manager for General Motors
  • Brian Soublet, Chief Counsel and Deputy Director for the California DMV

And a special shout out to our schools that traveled from across Northern and Central California to attend: Kingsburg High School, San Lorenzo High School and Madera South High School. We hope to be working with even more schools in the future!

Interested in participating in our Town Halls or utilizing our free curriculum guides? Email legischool@csus.edu to sign up for updates.

Engaging Students in Tobacco Policy

December’s Town Hall meeting was a success! Approximately 120 students from across Northern California gathered at the Tsakopoulous Library Galleria a few blocks from the Capitol. Our Interim Director Elisia Hoffman served as the moderator, while the students and panelists critically asked questions of one another relating to tobacco policy.

Our distinguished panelists answered a variety of students’ questions, ranging from new policies on e-cigarettes, to perspectives on the effect of cigarette taxation. Panelists also brought their own questions and asked students to think about the changing culture of youth’s views on tobacco. The purpose of LegiSchool’s Town Halls is to engage students in matters of public policy that are important to Californians. And I felt this Town Hall was a perfect example of LegiSchool’s mission, vision and intent.

Students were given a curriculum guide to deepen their understanding of the topic. Our guides are a great way to bring current and state issues into the classroom. They can also be of good use to students who are unable to attend the Town Hall in person.

In addition to the Town Hall meeting, students had the opportunity to be given a tour by alumni Capitol Fellows and visit the Senate Floor. A lucky group of students were also able to visit their members’ offices and speak with a Legislative Director!


Many thanks to the engaging group of panelists:

• Dr. Angelo Williams, Director of the California Black Health Network
• Kim Chen, Government Affairs Manager at the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network
• Madeleine Cooper, Legislative Director for Assemblymember Harper
• David Wolfe, Legislative Director at the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

And shout out to the participating high schools: Cordova High, Mt. Eden, JFK (Fremont) and Elk Creek Jr/Sr High School. We are looking forward to our February Town Hall meeting on driverless cars!