Cesar Chavez Commemorative Celebration
Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors honored César E. Chávez at the 28th Annual Cesar E. Chavez Commemorative Celebration. This year’s theme is Advancing our Generations with Unity – Avanzando Nuestras Generaciones con Unidad.
The event included live musical performances from Mariachi Monumental and Ballet Folklórico Netzahualcoyotl, and celebratory remarks from members of the Board of Supervisors.
See news release (PDF).
Each year during the ceremony, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors honors a group of students as part of the Youth Hall of Fame Awards. The winners for 2022 are:
Campolindo High School
Carolyn is the Youth Advisor on the Arts and Culture Commission of Contra Costa County. Once shelter-in-place began, she created a virtual art gallery where high school students could continue to showcase their work and share their creative process. Online viewers were able to interact, comment and ask questions to panelists.
Carolyn also organized the first county-wide high school art exhibit. After contacting every high school art teacher in Contra Costa, the exhibition had over 100 pieces representing 27 high schools. Carolyn went on to develop an art exhibit housed at the County Office of Education titled, “The Art of Resilience” which featured works from over twenty Contra Costa high school students.
Carolyn created a program called Justice Murals which originally focused on raising awareness for social justice within the County’s high schools. The first mural is installed in Contra Costa Juvenile Hall. Justice Murals has grown and worked with Afghan refugees and is currently addressing the art that has been destroyed in Ukraine. Justice Murals has had displays around the bay area and New Mexico.
Carolyn is the co-founder of a non-profit called Meaningful Teens which connects teens with volunteer opportunities. Since last May, they’ve connected 250 volunteers to corresponding opportunities. Carolyn has a clear passion for her community.
Campolindo High School
In the summer of 2020, Jake Hammerman started a program called Impactful Tennis, where he taught young people tennis skills. This was so meaningful for kids that had been isolated at home during Covid. Instead of accepting payment for lessons, he encouraged parents to donate to his GoFundMe page. He reached out to Meals on Wheels Diablo Valley to let them know that his goal was to raise $10,000 that he would then donate to Meals on Wheels. He was concerned that seniors in his community were facing even more severe food insecurity than usual due to the pandemic. He felt passionately about helping them.
Jake encouraged his teammates from Campolindo High School’s tennis team to join him in teaching lessons and by the end of the summer Jake surpassed his goal and raised $14,375, which helped Meals on Wheels Diablo Region keep up with the 40% increase in demand for delivered meals due to many seniors sheltering-in-place. The funds were raised from 264 hours of giving 200 lessons, making this a successful multi-generational initiative during a very difficult time.
Jake sees the challenges vulnerable seniors face even still today, and he has continued to provide tennis lessons and donate funds raised to help fight senior hunger in Contra Costa. We commend Jake on his volunteer service to Meals on Wheels and thank him for his contributions to making our community a better and healthier place to be!
Mark Rainier Catapusan
Ygnacio Valley High School
Mark’s family immigrated from the Philippines when he was seven years old and he struggled with the transition, facing intense bullying as he began school here in the United States. In 7th grade, Mark came out as gay and the bullying continued from his peers. At home, it was difficult for his devoted Catholic parents to accept his coming out. His three older sisters offered him their love and support and encouraged his parents to do the same.
At 14 years old, Mark began working at McDonald’s and when his family could not help with transportation, he would pay for an Uber to get to work. Mark used his money to participate in volleyball workshops at Bay Area Volleyball Club (BAVC). In middle school he joined the Education Talent Search (ETS) in hopes to better his chances of getting into college. He is also a member of prestigious and selective programs such as the USC Bovard Scholars, Penn In Focus fly-in program, and more.
Mark currently sits on the Student Advisory Committee for Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) and is a member of the MDUSD Tech Plan Committee. Mark earned League Honorable Mention as a freshman for volleyball and was the captain his freshman and sophomore years. Now a senior at Ygnacio Valley High School, he has been instrumental on the Change the Mascot Committee. Outside of school he is enrolled in a volleyball course at Diablo Valley College and is a member of the undefeated Allstar competitive cheerleading team. Mark was offered admission to Stanford University and University of Southern California as a merit finalist. He has accepted early admission to Stanford University and looks forward to starting in the fall.
Campolindo High School
Namratha Kasalanati is the Lafayette Youth Commission appointee to the City General Plan Advisory Council, helping to guide the General Plan Update and most immediately, the Housing Element, RHNA allocation plan, and the mission statement update for the City of Lafayette. Namratha has also been a leader in the Acalanes Union High School District and the City of Lafayette’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging efforts. In all of her leadership roles, she exhibits a level of calm, strategic thinking, empathy, and analysis that positions her to continue to be an effective leader and agent of change.
Alongside two other committee members, Namratha joined a sub-committee dedicated to updating the City’s mission statement to better reflect the current shared vision for Lafayette’s future. She worked diligently to build awareness and seek feedback from the public to identify key values to be included in the new mission statement and developed thoughtful drafts that included the range of perspectives shared with the sub-committee.
As the Chair of the Youth Commission, she encourages members to be passionate about serving the youth of the community as well as motivating them to propose new service opportunities. She leads the charge in prompting her fellow commissioners to rally around the amazing causes they choose to support. The Lamorinda Community benefits from having such an incredible role model for their youth.
Northgate High School
Leadership & Civic Engagement
In 2020, Seena created the Learning Enrichment Assistance Program (LEAP), which connects high school students with at-risk middle school students for academic tutoring. The program was adopted by the Mt. Diablo Unified School District and its first year coincided with the first virtual school year during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The program was successful, and tutors reported developing good rapport with their students whose grades improved.
Over the summer, Seena hosted two camps for middle schoolers experiencing homelessness. The first discussed mental health and bullying, and the second discussed high school and college preparedness. LEAP resumed in the 2021-2022 school year with 31 high school students tutoring 6th-8th grade students identified as unhoused and/or foster youth students having one or more D’s/F’s.
Seena has worked with Foundations to purchase and donate gift cards, backpacks filled with school supplies and hygiene kits for families experiencing homelessness. He also worked with Build-a-Bear to distribute toys to homeless and foster youth students during the holiday season. In addition to LEAP, Seena is the current Chair of the Walnut Creek Youth Leadership Commission, which he joined as a sophomore. MDUSD is proud to continue LEAP as Seena prepares to graduate this year.
Diablo Vista Middle School
Rising Star Good Samaritan
Sohan recently worked with the San Ramon Valley Rotary Club on their annual Valentine’s Day Teddy Bear Delivery. This program delivers teddy bears to the residents living in two senior assisted living homes and takes months to coordinate, collect and prepare for. Sohan was early to volunteer and worked hard to help make this Valentine’s Day a special one.
Each teddy bear needed to be packaged in plastic to maintain the health and safety of the seniors who are receiving them. Sohan took the time to carefully wrap each of the 130 teddy bears. Sohan has been recognized for his attention to detail, quality of work and dedication through this process. Sohan wanted to be on-site for the delivery of the Valentine’s Day teddy bears to the seniors. This project brings so much joy and many thanks of appreciation from the residents and staff.
Sohan Emani is a gentle natured, good-hearted individual and definitely a rising star.
Montessori Family School (El Sobrante)
In February of 2022, the El Sobrante Library hired Alice as a teen volunteer for a 20-hr per week internship. In this short time Alice proved herself to be dedicated, highly creative and a dependable asset to the library team. She decorated book displays, assembled coloring projects, assisted with shelf reading, prepared “take and make” activities, and helped create activity instructions for library patrons. From the time she arrived, Alice was focused and willing to help staff with any task in service to our community.
Alice’s passion for volunteerism extends beyond the Library to Jelly’s Place Animal Rescue and Adoption. She has also acted as the primary food drive organizer for the Bay Area Rescue Mission, organizing four collections. She has worked with the food bank sorting food and volunteered to run businesses to raise money for a middle school adventure trip. She has also planned an upcoming trash pickup project at local beaches and parks. Lastly, she is an active Girl Scout, completing projects like School Service Projects, Berkeley Senior Center Volunteering, as well as drives for Toys for Tots, and One Warm Coat.
Sequoia Middle School
Rising Star Leadership & Civic Engagement
Krish is currently a 6th grader at Sequoia Middle School in Pleasant Hill. His interest in civic engagement began when he was 8-years-old and wrote a letter to the Mayor of Concord. He was concerned that the lack of adequate lighting at the Diablo Creek Golf Course parking lot was contributing to car break-ins. The mayor acted on his request and this instilled the belief and confidence in Krish that anyone, despite their age, can make a difference in their community.
Krish runs a math education program that incorporates basketball statistics called MathHoops. MathHoops is usually delivered through schools, but Krish’s elementary school was not able to participate. Krish took the initiative to assemble his friends and other kids from the community to participate in this program by getting together once a week at the Pleasant Hill Library. Currently, Krish is working as an educator with Learn Fresh, a non-profit dedicated to enhancing students’ STEM and social-emotional achievement through sports and entertainment.
Krish also played an active role in convincing the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) to bring their PGA Jr League program to a public golf course in Contra Costa. Previously, this program was only available at private golf courses. Krish writes letters to State legislators to advocate for municipal golf courses and the importance of golf being accessible to a diverse constituency. He also volunteers as a junior coach with First Tee of Contra Costa.