February 2, 2018

Hello to the PAUSD Community,

Groundhog's Day Poem

Welcome to February! We understand that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, and that we can anticipate six more weeks of winter.  

In Palo Alto, however, we’re enjoying both the warm sunshine and the bright energy of  teaching, learning, and excelling in PAUSD. Please see some of the highlights below:

Great Things Happening in PAUSD

Department of Academic Supports

The Ronald McDonald House School has seen much growth for the 2017-18 school year. The site serves approximately 10-12 students daily. The students range from Kindergarten through 12th grade. This year the school has served 67 students. The site is open to patients and siblings of patients who are currently receiving medical care through Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. The program curriculum is growing as well under the Department of Academic Supports and Catherine Enos who is the full-time teacher. The site has added English Language Specialist support, Spectra Art, and Theatre Works to name a few. An interning Stanford student runs mindfulness activities once a week (and a retired librarian who comes once a week to read stories to the students. Volunteers come weekly to support students who soak up all the small group and individual attention.

Advanced Authentic Research & Innovation

Advanced Authentic Research (AAR) students are more than halfway through the AAR program this year. AAR is teaching them to become comfortable with ambiguity, making their own decisions, narrowing down topics, planning ahead, and more. Students are beginning to execute their research projects and collect data which will be presented at the Celebratory Showcase in May.

As part of this, AAR is facilitating laboratory work at Gunn High School in which mentors are working on campus with students, under their teachers’ supervision to conduct experiments. AAR has also assisted with some lab facilities upgrades to make this work possible.

Palo Alto High School's inaugural class of Advanced Placement (AP) Seminar students are busy working on their Team Multimedia Projects and Individual Research Reports. Their research topics cover everything from sustainable fish farming, to the rights of pregnant drug addicts, to interdisciplinary education models in Finland. Kudos to our AP Seminar teacher, Lucy Filppu for getting her AP Seminar Team Multimedia Presentation and Individual Multimedia Presentation (TMP & IMP) certification and can now officially score her students.

AAR is continuing to work closely with site Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. Gunn High School and Palo Alto High School have both developed new CTE pathway maps (aligned with state CTE guidelines) for next year’s course catalog to help students better understand their CTE options and the benefits of each. AAR has also continued to help fund new opportunities and upgrades for CTE programs, including new industrial workbenches for the Gunn High School robotics team which were delivered in January.

AAR is now recruiting mentors for the 2018-19 school year. If you know anyone who might be interested in mentoring, please point them to the Mentor Application Form. If you would like to mentor a student next year, feel free to sign up!

For all the latest AAR news and updates, like/follow us on Facebook.

Palo Verde Elementary

A Palo Verde student will participate in our State History Bee! Congratulations to Abhivir Iyer, a Palo Verde 5th grader, who will compete in 2018 California Regional Finals of the National History Bee, a prestigious national history competition. Finalists compete for National History Bee Grand Champion title.

Jordan Middle School

French students from Diana Modica’s class presented on great French monuments and historical figures on Tuesday night at Jordan. The presentations were all in French, and some students wore costumes to go with their presentations! All students were proud of their artwork, models, or demonstrations of French culture.

On January 30, 28 students from Jordan Middle School attended the Middle School Youth Conference hosted by the Santa Clara County Office of Education in San Jose. Keynote speaker Joseph Mathews engaged the students with his story of overcoming childhood adversities, discrimination, and juvenile detention by shifting his mindset and making smarter choices, ultimately becoming a college graduate and teacher. During the breakout sessions, our students participated in a variety of workshops ranging from healthy relationships, online safety/social media and body image to handling stress, youth advocacy, and drug awareness. For most of the students, this was their first experience attending a conference, and they came away with new connections and broader perspectives. We will definitely go again next year!

Gunn High School

This is an impressive list of what our ROCK students have done and plan to do to increase the health and joy of our community.

“R.O.C.K (Reach Out. Care. Know) is a group of students dedicated to reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness and boosting the emotional well-being of students through school-wide events and initiatives. As co-vice presidents, we would like to share a summary of what we did as a club first semester and a preview of the upcoming semester.  

To start off the year, co-presidents Gaya Gupta and Meghna Singh taught the Rockstars about common signs of mental health conditions. They also gave students steps to follow in regards to approaching a friend who may be showing those particular symptoms and how to connect them to help. This training was adapted from “R U OK Day” in Australia. ROCK leader Madeline Lurie created a presentation on what language to use when speaking about mental illness. Dr. Kessler, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, also presented on the importance of self-care. We are very fortunate to have Dr. Kessler plan to come once a month this semester to present on mental-health topics that club members have expressed interest in learning about. ROCK also took initiative to advertise and promote Ms. Flaskerud’s Gift Card Drive that provides resources for families affected by the recent wildfires.

During finals week, we completed the “Compliment Project”: posters with short positive messages around campus that students could tear off and take for themselves or a friend. Many of our peers expressed appreciation for this small but meaningful effort to cheer up their day. To further brighten the Gunn community, our club has painted colorful rocks that will be put around campus. We hope to attract prospective members by putting “special stars” on three of the rocks that allow people to claim prizes if they attend a meeting. For the next finals week, this semester, we plan to create a small, temporary petting zoo as a way for students to relieve stress.

We are also expanding our social media presence with the creation of our new Instagram (@rockatgunn) and plan to launch a new Facebook page. You can visit our main website here.

Strengthening the student-body support system in innovative ways has been at the forefront of ROCK initiatives this year. Members of our club are currently working with Gautam Mittal on launching his anonymous messaging service “Copilot” that would allow students to directly support one another. Rachel Barkin and Francheska Ko are building a peer-to-peer counseling program in which students can meet in a confidential setting to express hardships they may be facing. This program has received permission from the administration and is intended to launch this year! Another leader, Hanlong Fan, is creating a campaign similar to “A Titan Is” with signs people can hold up that read “I’ll be there for you when ___” in hopes of bolstering the Titan community.

ROCK is actively involved with Titan Pride Week, facilitating the making of friendship bracelets and inspirational bottle-cap keychains. This upcoming month, get excited for the reveal of our secret school-wide event that we are planning!

We would like to give a huge thank you to Ms. Dixon, Mr. Heffner, the Wellness Committee, and our club advisor Mr. Dunlap for their support and dedication to improving student wellness.”

Palo Alto High School

Paly Speech and Debate Team had an absolutely phenomenal weekend at the Milpitas Invitational. Paly students took seven (!) of the eight quarterfinal spots in Lincoln Douglas debate and closed out the tournament. We also had a finalist in Duo Interpretation, two in Dramatic Interpretation, and placed 2nd and 5th in Congress!

Paly alum Nadine Burke Harris (class of 1992) recently published a fascinating and groundbreaking book called The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity. Nadine is founder and CEO of the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point. According to Amazon:

"Through storytelling that delivers both scientific insight and moving stories of personal impact, Burke Harris illuminates her journey of discovery, from research labs nationwide to her own pediatric practice in San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point. For anyone who has faced a difficult childhood, or who cares about the millions of children who do, the innovative and acclaimed health interventions outlined in The Deepest Well will represent vitally important hope for change."

Her book is available on Amazon, and is currently the best seller in her category. It looks like an excellent book for educators and parents! Check out her book or her TED talk "“I Was Thinking Too Small."

Congratulations Paly ARTS Students! So far 88 Paly artists and writers were selected for 121 California Key Awards from Scholastic Arts & Writing. Of those awards, 27 were Gold Key Awards that further our student artists as National Arts Medalist finalists candidates. Congratulations to Seniors Johanna Ehrensvard and Jonathan Stoschek who are Senior Portfolio finalists competing for $6 million in Arts School scholarship money. The California awards will be celebrated at the Pacific Grove Arts Center on March 31 from 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. in the Gill Gallery.

Paly Student Mihir Singhal has been named one of the top 300 young scientists in the nation by the 77th annual Regeneron Science Talent Search. Ashwini Avadhani was recognized as the Teacher of Merit.  Each Regeneron STS Scholar receives a monetary award that is matched for the school. Their letter states “This is a proud reflection on your school and its educators who support dedicated young researchers.”

Wishing you a great weekend ahead,

Karen Hendricks