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Three Southern Arizona schools are being recognized for their civic engagement efforts.

The Arizona Department of Education Excellence in Civic Engagement Program highlights the important role of public schools in ensuring students are informed and engaged citizens.

“It’s about students taking skills they have already learned, and applying them into the real world,” said Connie Erickson, principal at Senita Valley in the Vail School District.

Senita Valley Elementary School was the only one in Southern Arizona on the top ten list of schools of distinction for the 2012-13 school year. Tanque Verde High School and Cienega High School were recognized as schools of merit.

“With our fifth-graders, we talk about being a good citizen in and outside of the classroom,” Erickson said. “We do a lot of things with different organizations in our community and encourage students to volunteer.”

Senita will be recognized by the state at an award ceremony on Constitution Day Sept. 17.