The Pleasanton Unified School District (PUSD) earned statewide recognition with two Golden Bell Awards presented by the California School Boards Association for programs making a strong impact on students and the community. The Local Leaders of the 21st Century Club and Estrella del Pueblo, PUSD’s Mariachi Program, were two of only 57 programs statewide to be recognized for this honor during the California School Boards Association annual conference in December.
“We are proud to receive this recognition for two programs that have had an immeasurable impact on our students and broader community,” said Superintendent David Haglund. “Both the Local Leaders and our Mariachi programs are a testament to the incredible relationships we have fostered with organizations and families and how our students have been empowered to engage and make a larger impact on the world as a result.”
The Local Leaders of the 21st Century began as a pilot program in 2015 as a student club at Amador Valley High School to provide educational and advocacy opportunities in sustainability through a unique partnership with the international non-profit, the Go Green Initiative, led and created by Jill Buck. Since its inception, the Local Leaders of the 21st Century Club has grown to over 100 members at Amador and has inspired a second club at Foothill High School.
“When I wrote Local Leaders of the 21st century it was to fill a void in sustainability education for teens. I’m part of the Leadership team for the Green Schools National Network so I see all the programming available for students,” said Go Green CEO Jill Buck. “This program has enabled students to work side by side with their local elected and municipal leaders on substantive environmental public policy issues
Most notably, the students in the Local Leaders of the 21st Century Club inspired and led for the adoption and implementation of PUSD’s integrated waste management policy. This policy has developed ‘Green Teams’ comprised of students, staff and parents across the District focused on reducing waste and being environmental stewards for our community and future generations. The Local Leaders also conduct informational presentations for classes and community organizations on environmental issues and sustainability.
“This program has had a huge impact on my high school career. Through this program, I gained confidence in my ability to enact change even if I am just a high school student,” said current Amador Local Leaders of the 21st Century Jessica Luan. “My four years as a member and officer Local Leaders has helped me settle into my role as an environmental steward.”
Estrella del Pueblo, PUSD’s Mariachi program, began in 2015 as an after-school enrichment program and has grown to serve a diverse community of over 200 students and families in providing opportunities for students to learn and perform mariachi instruments and dance, ballet folklorico. For many participating students, this robust program offers an opportunity to learn an instrument, build confidence and to connect to a vibrant culture and community.
"Mariachi means a lot of different things. Mariachi connects me to my culture and it's a way to socialize more with friends who like the same things,” said Pleasanton Middle School 8th grader Emily Ornelas. “When I am at Mariachi I feel like I am with family. Mariachi helps me to forget about all of the stress and I enjoy myself when I am playing. Being in Mariachi gave me a head start so that I could participate in my school orchestra.”
The program also provides a wide variety of support to students and families including tutoring, robotics classes as well as scholarships and many community resources. Estrella del Pueblo provides invaluable connections.
"Mariachi is an amazing program because it helps students to connect to culture and music,” said Estrella Del Pueblo coordinator Viviana Suarez. “Students are not just learning about music but they are learning about the culture and connecting to school in a way that they don't in any other program."
PUSD congratulates the staff, students and parents that contribute to the success of each of these programs.