Courtesy of Alex Lopez

First-place winners Sanil Baweja and Neeraj Sathe, from left, are from Gale Ranch Middle School. Their video was called "A Distracted Dad's Driving."

accomplishments

San Ramon Valley Exchange Club's essay contest winner: Is Jayendra Jog, senior, Dougherty Valley High School, $5000 scholarship. Runners-up were Alexandra Farly, junior, Venture High School, San Ramon and Luke Campopiano, sophomore, California High School, San Ramon. The subject of this year's essay contest was "The War Powers Acts: 1941, 1942, 1973; Are these acts Constitutional or Unconstitutional?" Students argued both sides of this issue.

Donation for music programs: Tom Eager, president of the San Ramon Valley Rotary Club presented checks to five local high schools and middle schools who encouraged their students to audition for the annual Valley Teen Idol competition. Over seventy students from 21 schools auditioned. San Ramon Valley Rotary Club is donating over $7000 to 21 local schools to promote their music programs. The winning schools were Diablo Vista Middle School, San Ramon, $700 donation; Monte Vista High School, Danville donation of $1000, Dougherty Valley High School, San Ramon, $500 donation; Charlotte Wood Middle School, Danville, a $900 donation and Los Cerros Middle School, Danville, $800 donation.

Local gymnast scores: Jonah James, seventh grade student at Pleasanton Middle School just competed at the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympic National Championships in Long Beach and won national Hi-Bar first place honors, as well as placing fourth in the six men's events All-Around among the country's best 12 year-olds. James, who competes for West Coast Olympic Gymnastics Academy, recently won the State All-Around title, and then qualified at the Western Regional in Phoenix from a field of 65 athletes for the two-Day national meet. He will now compete as a Level 9 gymnast, of which his WCOGA team earned the top club Junior Olympic national team score over the entire meet.

Young San Ramon Valley filmmakers honored: Twenty-one aspiring filmmakers from San Ramon Valley middle schools had their films premiere at the Ninth Annual Street Smarts "Be Reel!" Video Contest Premiere and Awards Ceremony. The "Be Reel" Video Contest encourages middle school students to work in teams of up to four students to create 60-second public service announcement videos on a traffic safety theme. The fall theme was "Teach Your Parents to Be Street Smart," and the spring theme was "Sidewalk and Crosswalk Safety." The first-place video, "A Distracted Dad's Driving," was created by Sanil Baweja and Neeraj Sathe, of Gale Ranch Middle School, San Ramon. The second place award went to a video called "Street Smartz: Crossing the Street" by Carter Phan, Ayush Kumar and Keshav Raghu, of Windemere Ranch Middle School, San Ramon. The first place team won a $100 Visa gift card, and each second place team member received a $50 Visa gift card.

Community of Character Awards announced: The Pleasanton Community of Character Collaborative have announced the 2014 winners of the Juanita Haugen Community of Character Awards. The awards recognizes citizens and a nonprofit organization exhibiting outstanding volunteer service within Pleasanton while displaying the community-accepted traits of: Responsibility, Compassion, Self-Discipline, Honesty, Respect and Integrity. Winners are:

Brad Hirst, who moved to Pleasanton in 1967 has been involved in thousands of hours of community service including, the designation of historical sites, part of the General Plan review in 1968 and the economic development committee. President of the Chamber of Commerce and Pleasanton Downtown Rotary Club. In 1995 he was the recipient of the Mayor's Award. For two decades Hirst has been on the board of directors for the George A. Spiliotopoulos Invitational Tournament which provided scholarships for local high school graduates to go to college and the Pleasanton Youth, Inc.

Emily Scholz, a Valley Humane Society volunteer where she helps six to eight hours per week. Emily specialty is writing grants and she has been awarded over $50,000 this past year through a Maddie's Fund Treatable Program Grant.

Bob Williams, is the conductor of the Pleasanton Community Concert Band for 32 of its 39 years. The band performs 20 concerts every year for the public, free of charge. For over as decade, Williams has created historically appropriate programs for "Celebrating Freedom and its Evolution since the Revolution," the community's midday Fourth of July celebration held in Lions Wayside Park. Williams conducts the band's performances for Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations. Lynnewood United Methodist Church: Members helped found Open Heart Kitchen, which provides meals for the needy and the elderly. In partnership with Axis Community Health, church members create "Bundles of Joy," supplies for newborns whose families are needy. A recent project has been "Stop Hunger now," which involved packaging 10,000 nutritious meals for hungry people around the world. Local members have volunteered to sort food for the Alameda County Community Food Bank, worked with Habitat for Humanity and the Greater Richmond Inter-Faith program. Each autumn they have collected backpacks and filled them with supplies to help students in need be better prepared for school.

Local author nominated for Anthony Award: Penny Warner, of Danville, has been nominated for an Anthony Award in the "Best Children's or Young Adult Novel" category for her Code Busters Club novel: "Mystery of the Pirate's Treasure." The Anthony Awards are literary awards for mystery writers presented at the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention and are among the most prestigious awards in the world of mystery writers.

Valley Stars is written by Louise Hartman. Contact her at 925-847-2111, by email at vtletters@bayareanewsgroup.com or send a fax to 925-847-2189.