Students Win For Super Science Searches

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Winners in the S3-Super Science Searches summer contest (Left to Right) Alexander Ivanov and Rajiv Nelakanti (First Place); Bev Lenihan, S3 project manager and Cupertino Library Foundation board member; Kiyati Sriram (Second Place); and Shiyalika Chayan (Third Place).

Plenty of middle school students spent big chunks of time this summer searching the Internet for entertainment and meeting new friends, but in the Cupertino area more than 200 students focused their searches on science using library online databases for the chance to win cash and prizes.

The Cupertino Library Foundation announced the winners of their second annual S3-Super Science Searches Summer Contest for Cupertino Union School District middle school students on Aug. 16, just before the launch of the new school year. First Place winners Alexander Ivanov and Rajiv Nelakanti, 8th graders at Cupertino Middle School, won iPad minis for their team entry. Niyati Sriram, an out-going 8th grader from Cupertino Middle School won $100 for her second place entry. Shivalika Chavan, an out-going 8th grader from Kennedy Middle School, was awarded $50 in third place. There were 206 registrants, and 63 official entrants. [Read more…]

Faith In Action Celebrates Six Month Anniversary With Youth Dance

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The Faith in Action Silicon Valley Rotating Shelter is marking its first six-month milestone with a special dance and mixer just for Bay Area high school students on Friday, Sept. 28, in Cupertino.

The shelter launched in March as a collaboration of more than 20 South Bay churches, individuals, and companies, to provide meals, shelter, and other supportive services for 15 homeless men at a time, for a period of up to 90 days.  Each month a different church or synagogue houses the shelter, with volunteers providing meals. According to shelter organizers, more than 45 men have been served so far, with 18 moving into permanent housing situations.

To celebrate its success and raise funds at the same time, the Faith in Action nonprofit is throwing the dance for up to 300 high school students from 8 to 10 p.m., at the Quinlan Community Center, 10185 N. Stelling Rd., Cupertino. In addition to music and dancing, the event will include refreshments and opportunities to learn more about how students can make a difference in the community.

Tickets are on sale now for $5 if students RSVP in advance, or $10 at the door. All proceeds benefit the rotating shelter. To RSVP, email program intern Kelsey Haynes at kelseyhanes@me.com.

“We want to see a lot of high school students at our benefit dance,” said Haynes, a senior at the Middle School program at De Anza Community College, and organizer of the dance. “It’s a great chance to invite your friends and meet new people while making a real difference in your local community.”

The convergence of youth and community to support the rotating shelter was an original vision of founder and unpaid executive director Cathey Edwards, she told Good Neighbor Stories in March. [Read more…]

Catching Up With Project WeHOPE; Trip Sponsors Needed

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I got a chance to catch up with Pastor Paul Bains of Project WeHOPE, the East Palo Alto nonprofit I reported on last year. The small organization is making significant inroads toward combating homelessness in a town of 2.2 square miles that has the largest homeless population in San Mateo County.

Recently the city council awarded Project WeHOPE a $30,000 grant for its warming shelter, the only homeless facility in East Palo Alto (EPA). This was down from an original request for $50,000; the council went through some quibbling over details of the request before settling on the final number .

But aside from leading the charge to end homelessness in East Palo Alto, Project WeHOPE is also a service agency for local youth, and currently has a need for sponsors and donations so volunteers can take students on an end-of-summer trip to Disneyland and Universal Studios. [Read more…]

Student Travels to Kenya on a Dream of Schools for All Youth

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A big dream of schools for all children envisioned by UC Berkeley student Justin Li is taking him all the way to Kenya later this month, where an organization he helped found at Cupertino High School is currently helping three schools.

Justin Li holding his 2011 Sandlot Award.

Li is traveling July 29 with two other members of the student-run nonprofit called Kenya Dream, to visit the schools in Meru County, formerly known as the Eastern Province, in the country on the eastern coast of Africa.

“Words can’t really describe how I feel about this upcoming trip,” Li said. “I have spent over five years putting my heart into Kenya Dream, and I know for a fact that my life is going to be changed forever when I finally get to see the work we as a community have done. I know I will probably break down and cry when I see each school.”

Li, fellow co-founder and Berkeley student Lisa Nguyen, and current co-president of Cupertino High’s Kenya Dream Matt Workman, will spend 16 days touring the province with representatives from an organization they are partnered with, Friends of Kenya Schools and Wildlife. Kenya Dream is working with Kenya Schools to fund tuition and supplies for more than 50 students.

The team will not only visit Nthimbiri Secondary School, Nkubu Victory Acadamy, and Kachiuru School, to see how the approximately $100,000 Kenya Dream has raised since 2007 has been put to work, they will also visit other sites the group might help.

“I can’t wait to immerse myself into the culture, meet the students we have been supporting, and make new connections for future projects,” said Li. [Read more…]

Guest Post: Refugee Transitions Providing Summer Fun and Learning

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Editor’s Note: We welcome Refugee Transitions as a contributor to the Good Neighbor Stories site. Check out the GNS article about this wonderful San Francisco Bay Area nonprofit. If you have a group that would like to contribute posts to our site, contact us.

Summer is finally here, and with it sunshine, a break from school, and family trips and vacations. However, for many refugee and immigrant youth, summer can be the most difficult and dreary time of the year. Many of these youth are low-income and unable to join in on the summer activities that their peers may be able to enjoy – even the resources that are available are often difficult to access, as students need a means of transportation to and from various summer camps and enriching activities.

Refugee Transitions, a nonprofit social service and education organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area, provides invaluable support to these newcomer students during their first years in their new communities, providing safe, supportive and engaging learning environments. As part of their programming, the agency organizes annual summer camps for refugee youth, which help to relieve students from frequently home-bound days. [Read more…]

Smiling Student Receives Award for Kindness

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Gerardo Ochoa and Brianna Mercado

CUPERTINO—A nice guy finished first at Homestead High School at the end of the 2011-12 year, as senior Gerardo Ochoa received the school’s first Sandlot Award.

The award was created specifically to shine a light on students who display kindness to their peers and the community at large. Ochoa, described as someone who always has a smile on his face, was nominated by teachers who told the selection committee that he always sought to make himself and those around him better.

Although this is the first year for the award at Homestead, it started four years ago as the Justin Perkins Sandlot Award primarily at Monta Vista High School, named after the inspirational Monta Vista student who died from cancer in 2008. It was created by Justin’s father, Albert Perkins, and two friends, Steven Young and John Loiacano, a Monta Vista alumnus. Young is one of the founders of a nonprofit website, Sandlot Hero, dedicated to sharing inspirational stories of people making a difference. The site includes stories about past award winners. [Read more…]

Sandlot Awards: Monta Vista Senior Lauded for Community Spirit

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CUPERTINO—Monta Vista High School senior Raelle Alfaro was awarded the Justin Perkins Sandlot Award recently for her outstanding community service and team player attitude.

Alfaro volunteered with numerous organizations throughout high school, such as Cake4Kids, which provides decorated birthday cakes for disadvantaged children, the Peninsula Humane Society, and Hope’s Corner, a free breakfast program for the homeless.

This is the fourth year for the Justin Perkins Sandlot Award,  named for the inspirational student who passed away from cancer in 2008 by Justin’s father, Albert Perkins, and two friends, Steven Young and John Loiacano, a Monta Vista alumnus. It was specifically designed to single out students who display kindness to their peers and the world. [Read more…]

Fourth FUHSD School Adds Kindness Award

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CUPERTINO — A fourth school in the Fremont Union High School District (FUHSD) is offering the Sandlot Award, a unique award that recognizes graduating seniors for their kindness and altruism.

“I personally love this award because it recognizes our students who wouldn’t normally be recognized,” said Homestead High School College Advisor Kellee Markos.

She said the Sandlot Award, “embodies a lot of what Homestead prides itself on,” things like the “kindness factor” and an “appreciation for diverse backgrounds.”

Some of the school’s high achieving students in academics, athletics, and extracurricular activities, tend to get recognized over and over again, because so many awards have similar criteria, Markos said. The Sandlot Award, however, is for the students who often go unnoticed for their acts of kindness toward their peers and the community.

Homestead now joins Monta Vista, Cupertino and Lynbrook high schools in offering the Sandlot Award. The deadline for Homestead students to apply is April 25. [Read more…]

High School Kindness Award Deadline Approaching

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CUPERTINO — The deadline for Fremont Union High School District (FUHSD) seniors to apply for a special award recognizing kindness and altruism is this Sunday, April 15.

The Sandlot Award recognizes students at Monta Vista, Cupertino and Lynbrook high schools who display kindness to others. It was originally launched in 2009 at Monta Vista as the Justin Perkins Sandlot Award in memory of former student Justin Perkins, who died of cancer in 2008.  An effort is ongoing to bring the award to all five FUHSD schools.

Award coordinators say that while other school awards measure academic, athletic, and extracurricular successes, the Sandlot Award measures altruism that is not necessarily well known.

The award shines the light on “invisible students” who don’t always get recognized for their efforts, said Lynbrook Associated Student Body President Kevin Tu. It’s about students who are, “doing something good, not just for the title and recognition; it’s people serving for the heart of serving,” he said.

“It’s what’s unique about this award, and something Lynbrook needs a little bit more of,” Tu said. “I really support what this award encourages and fosters. And I believe that if everyone would be more like a sandlot hero our school would be a better place.” [Read more…]