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…]

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…]

Kindness Award For High School Seniors Catching On

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CUPERTINO — A third high school in the Fremont Union High School District is now looking to recognize seniors for kindness, alongside the usual awards for academic and sports achievements.

Lynbrook High School now has its own Sandlot Award, a spin-off from the Justin Perkins Sandlot Award begun at Monta Vista High School in 2009. It was named for the inspirational student who passed away from cancer in 2008, and is specifically designed to single out students who display kindness to their peers and the world.

Last month Good Neighbor Stories chronicled how that award evolved and is now offered to both Monta Vista and Cupertino High School students. A co-creator of the award and founder of the Sandlot Hero website, Steven Young, enlisted fellow Lynbrook alums Howard Doi and Debbie Luck, and Lynbrook ASB President Kevin Tu, to bring the award to Lynbrook.

“Lynbrook is one of those schools that is academically oriented. A lot of the awards are around academics or sports,” Doi said. The Lynbrook High School Sandlot Award will instead look for students who are helping others “because they want to, not because of the recognition. We want to find those kinds and honor them for what they do.” [Read more…]