2005 Mario Savio Student Activist Award Honoree
When Rhonda Balzarini arrived at Casa Grande High School with several years of cheerleading experience under her belt, she did not know that one Women’s History course was soon to transform her into a spirited leader of political and social activism. Now a senior, Rhonda has changed the fundamental atmosphere at Casa Grande. Teachers there describe her as the best student organizer we have seen so far. An intuitive leader admired by students of all ages.
Rhonda is a strong role model for younger women on campus inspiring them through support and personal example to be powerful, respectful and effective activists. In addition to heading Casa’s feminist club, Eyes Open, and co-coordinating the publication of its magazine, Rhonda helps guide and lead Evolution for the Revolution, the campus activist group. Through these organizations, Rhonda has coordinated outreach to Girls to Women – a Latina campus group – and to transgendered youth by organizing a Day of Remembrance. She also helped organize Casa’s first ever Teen Awareness Day which drew hundreds of students to tables providing timely information on diverse student political and health issues.
Rhonda’s dedication to promoting justice extends beyond campus life to the greater Petaluma community. There, she re-energized the Food Not Bombs network ensuring that food service is now regular again by calling on students to participate. Teachers credit Rhonda with what they see as growth of social consciousness among Casa’s mostly upper middle-class white students as a result of their interaction with the city¹s poor and homeless. In recognition of Rhonda’s dedication, the school’s US History and English teachers of the class Rebels, Resistance & Revolution honored her with its Revolutionary Award.