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…]

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…]

Award Honors High School Seniors Doing Good for Others

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CUPERTINO — The old truism that “you get what you measure” holds in this high-pressure academic community, where high school students are often measured most often by their grades. Yet one local group of people is seeking to measure something different: kindness.

Since 2009 the family and friends of Albert Perkins have recognized high school seniors from Cupertino making a difference in the world with the Justin Perkins Sandlot Award. It’s named for Albert Perkins’ son Justin, a Monta Vista student and football player who died of cancer in 2008.

“The award is in honor of Justin Perkins and what he stood for in terms of helping others,” said Cathy Gatley, chairperson of the 2012 awards committee. The honor comes with a scholarship and a unique trophy created by a sculptor.

Justin Perkins was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2003 during his junior year at Monta Vista, just after the last football game of the season. [Read more…]