Hillbrook School alumni Alex Nickel ('16) and Liam Strand ('16) are both named recipients of the Los Gatos Youth Citizen of the Year Award for 2016 and were honored at a ceremony on Saturday September 24, 2016 in Los Gatos. Young people who receive this award are members of Los Gatos or Monte Sereno and acknowledged for their exemplary leadership and outstanding service to others within their communities in the past year.
During their time at Hillbrook, both young men devoted themselves to living out Hillbrook’s vision of reaching beyond themselves to make a difference in the world.
Proficient in computer languages and passionate about robotics and programming, Liam Strand used his talent at Hillbrook to head Hour of Code classes for his peers in 6th grade peers. He was also an active member of the Tech Squad, a student-run organization led by our Director of Technology that served the school providing teachers and students with tech troubleshooting. He also participated in First Lego League robotics teams and competitions, devoting countless hours to programming the robots and working on solutions to challenges.
Last year, Strand collected laptops and iPads to bring to the San Jose Family shelter and designed an Hour of Code lesson to teach basic programming to a dozen children. A huge success, he has been invited back to the shelter for an encore presentation. Liam has devoted his summers to participating in various efforts with his Unitarian Church. Strand was also on hand to deliver iPads to Loma Prieta School after their fire, served the school as a tour guide for prospective families at our Fall Open House, and represented Hillbrook on the Common Sense Media Panel at Harker School last fall.
Last year at Hillbrook, Alex Nickel served as one of two 8th grade co-heads, facilitating our all-school weekly assembly, Flag, where we share news and jokes. He also devised the “Hillbrook Wheel Of Awesome,” which was a beloved addition to our Flag traditions where he cycled through themes of the year and encouraged our students to experience new foods, make new friends, take positive risks, practice kindness to their peers and community, and share those moments with others. He also spearheaded an effort to save a local teen holiday gift-giving organization, Treasures 4 Teens, creating a Kickstarter campaign and video that successfully raised $18,000 and provided age-appropriate Christmas presents to nearly 1,000 underserved South Bay youths between 11 and 18 years old.
Upon their 8th grade graduation, Strand and Nickel both received gold-level Presidential Service Awards, each volunteering over 100 hours to service.
Los Gatos Youth Citizen of the Year Awardees must be local residents and have committed themselves to special projects, community service pursuits, or received special awards. This year’s Youth Citizens of the Year will be acknowledged at a Town Council meeting, light the tree at the Los Gatos Tree Lighting Ceremony on Friday, December 2, blow the inaugural whistle, and ride in the lead car of the Los Gatos Holiday Parade on Saturday, December 3.
Liam Strand is a current Freshman at Sacred Heart Preparatory in Atherton and Alex Nickel attends Nueva School in Hillsborough as a freshman.
Hillbrook students have been nominated, selected, and acknowledged as Los Gatos Youth Citizens of the Year every year since our school was first invited to participate.
Hillbrook School’s recipients of the Los Gatos Youth Citizen Award include:
2016: Alexander Nickel and Liam Strand
2015: Isabel Perez
2014: Olivia Borenstein-Lawee and Courtney Mathisen
2013: JT Belshé and Cole Hammers
2012: Molly Ball
2011: Jordanne Sanford