The 2020 Annual Sweetheart Awards held on February 26th was a wonderful success. More than 100 awards were given by PAUSD families as a gesture to honor individuals for the positive impact they’ve had on students.

In addition, the Palo Alto CAC presented awards to three special organizations and individuals:

1. Kids With Dreams
Kids with Dreams is an organization of Stanford students dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with special needs. Through its weekly programs, the organization networks Stanford volunteers with community organizations and to connect them with children and young adults with special needs. With their direct service on the field, our children have been able to participate in all of these fun activities like playing soccer, swimming, rehearsing a play, making arts and crafts, and practicing dance moves throughout the year in this community. Volunteers and kids alike get to have a blast while building skills and MORE Importantly friendships that are meaningful to all.
2. Palo Alto Lions Club
The Palo Alto Lions Club has supported the Special Olympics in PAUSD since it’s inception by staffing the event with volunteers, purchasing lunch for student athletes, and serving the food. After 81 years, the Lions Club, one of the Bay Area’s oldest service organizations, made a difficult decision to disband their Palo Alto chapter. Before closing, they made a final donation to the Palo Alto CAC to help fund Special Olympics with its remaining dollars for at least 4 more years. Furthermore, individual members have offered to continue helping out with the event at Gunn High School. That is true dedication, and we are honored to recognize the Lions Club for it’s generosity to and care for our students.
3. Rita Rodriguez
Dyslexia and other learning differences impact 1 in 5 students, and Rita Rodriguez has been essential in launching PAUSD’s dyslexia initiatives. Along with her work as a PAUSD Psychologist, Rita was critical to developing our district’s understanding and plan for implementing the CA Department of Education’s Dyslexia Guidelines. As our resident technical expert, she personally trained all our lead administrators, principals, psychologists, and elementary teachers. She recommended our Universal Dyslexia Screener, and coordinated the districtwide Working Group that included parents and teacher stakeholders. We would not have made such progress were it not for Rita’s personal dedication and contributions. Generations of students to come will be positively impacted by her work. For this we are deeply grateful.