Multiple local businesses and individuals were recognized for their contributions to Pleasanton's public schools during the first-ever State of the School District luncheon at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Pleasanton last month.
Several hundred attendees attended the Jan. 22 inaugural event hosted by the Pleasanton Partnerships in Education Foundation, which included a catered lunch, awards presentation and keynote speech from Pleasanton Unified School District Superintendent David Haglund.
"We are here to celebrate our A-plus schools," said PPIE executive director Steve McCoy-Thompson, who also called the luncheon "an opportunity to celebrate things going on in the district" and to recognize "some real stalwarts of the community that we are very grateful to (have)."
The inaugural district report was also formally introduced by Haglund, which mainly comprised of Measure I1 updates, results from the School Quality Stakeholder Survey, and the district's recently improved credit ratings and chart-topping Niche.com rankings.
Various state and national awards from the past year for student accomplishments, including two Golden Bell Awards from the California School Boards Association, were also highlighted in the report.
"We have great students, students that when they are given an opportunity to challenge us, they push us and ask us to do more. But not just us -- they challenge each other and push each other to be better," Haglund said.
At one point, Haglund asked every table to pause and discuss among themselves "how do we demonstrate the traits listed in our vision," which the district outlines on its website as a "resourceful, resilient, responsible and engaged world citizen."
In addition to Haglund, guests included the entire Board of Trustees and cabinet members Julio Hernandez, Janelle Woodward and Ahmad Sheikholeslami. Many PUSD leaders were also present such as principals Mike O'Brien (Vintage Hills Elementary), Josh Butterfield (Amador Valley High), Joe Nguyen (Pleasanton Middle) and Julie Berglin (Mohr Elementary).
Notable also attendees included Pleasanton City Council members Kathy Narum, Jerry Pentin and Karla Brown; Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) was originally slated to appear as well but was called to a last-minute meeting in Sacramento. Instead, Bauer-Kahan shared a video recorded message with the audience, in which she praised PUSD for their "incredible education value" and for working year-round "finding extra funding to fill the gaps."
"I am happy to recognize our business leaders going above and beyond," Bauer-Kahan said.
A four-minute video with various PUSD staff during the event's program illustrated the support that PPIE has given during its 33-year history to close funding gaps in Pleasanton schools for -- among other programs and resources -- support counselors, intervention specialists, librarians, and STEAM grants.
McCoy-Thompson said that "by all accounts, the lunch was a success," and that he fully intends to bring the event back next year.
Nearly a dozen Pillars of Pleasanton awards were given that day to local businesses that have contributed to PUSD schools; the categories are divided by industries such as retail, medical and real estate.
This year's winners, and their categories, included:
* PJMB Commercial and Metcon (Marc Barkdull), Building & Construction
* Huntington Learning Center (Mona Sethi), Education & Childcare
* Fremont Bank (Brian Gentry), Financial & Professional
* BayClub Pleasanton (Thomas Avellone), Health & Leisure
* Clorox (Nichelle Rachel), Home & Personal
* SideTrack (Todd Utikal), Hospitality, Restaurant & Food
* Schlicher Orthodontics (Will Schlicher), Medical
* Delores Gragg, Real Estate & Property Management
* Made to Order (Rex Shoemake), Retail
* Workday (Diana Fisher), Software & Technology
* Black Tie Transportation (Bill Wheeler), Transportation & Energy.