Palo Alto Weekly

News - June 21, 2006

Around Town

ON THE DEFENSIVE . . .Both commencement speakers at Stanford University last weekend — Vartan Gregorian and Tom Brokaw — began their addresses sounding defensive about being the school's pick. Students had criticized both in the student newspaper, the Stanford Daily. One called Gregorian, the president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and former president of Brown University, "not as big a rock star as Tom Brokaw." So, in response, he put on dark sunglasses on Saturday to show how "rock star" he could be. Brokaw, on Sunday, also cited the Daily article at the start of his speech. "One student of the graduating class said, 'Tom Brokaw? That's like getting a contemporary radio station, adult radio station as a speaker — has a soothing effect but there's not much to get excited about,'" he said, according to a transcript provided by the university. "So here's the deal that I'm prepared to make. That student, Natalie, if you'll just turn around — you get Michael Bolton going on your iPod right now and I'm going to invite the rest of you to listen to me ... while I'm giving my speech here." One speaker who might have gotten a warmer reception from students, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, turned down an offer to give a commencement address at Stanford, the Washington Post reported Monday, "because he tries to spend Sundays at home in Chicago with his wife, Michelle, and their two young daughters." Stanford University had two ceremonies this year — one for the graduate students on Saturday and another for the undergraduates on Sunday — because the usual site of the joint commencement, the football stadium, is under construction, and the festivities had to be relocated to the smaller Elliot Field.

SCHOOL'S DEFINITELY OUT . . .During last week's Palo Alto school board meeting, student board member Susan Wu told those in attendance about Gunn High School's recent "Paper-Throwing Day." Apparently, graduating seniors bring all the old tests, homework, and projects they've saved over the last four years to school and engage in a massive loose-leaf cleansing by throwing the paper all over campus. "It definitely took hours to clean up," Wu said. Since Gunn was certified as a Green Business by the Bay Area Green Business Program for its efforts to reduce waste and promote energy conservation earlier this year, the seniors' papers were surely recycled.

A STAIN ON THE LAND . . . A photograph of the extent of contamination from the June 5 Romic hazardous-chemicals accident materialized on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Web site this week. The black swath spread across tracts of land into the marsh lands, and into endangered species habitat. The photograph can be viewed at http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/9e50770d29adb32685257018004d06fd/8fa2dfbbe7a5e9648525718600637b33!OpenDocument

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