I read the article about Mary Davey's passing and felt compelled to share one story of how she touched my life.
When I started a new job at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, I provided staff support to an organization Mary had long been a member of called the Housing Action Coalition. This group was one more example of Mary's excellent ability to successfully bridge constituencies that often are not on the same side, in this case environmentalism and housing development. After a few months in my new role, Mary sent me a handwritten note, unprompted, that welcomed me to my new role saying she was extremely impressed with me.
This note had a huge impact on me mainly by bolstering my confidence as a young female professional struggling to find my way in this new position.
Mary didn't have to write that note and most people don't. It touched me deeply that someone would take the time to notice me, notice I may have needed a boost and then actually followed through. (Most of us only follow through when we have something to complain about.)
I still have Mary's note tucked away with my collection of special things. And, because of how her simple act of kindness impacted me, I try to do the same by sending handwritten notes when I see someone who ought to be commended, recognized or otherwise is in need of some positive reinforcement. Although I know her death is not about me, I truly regret that I never had the opportunity to tell her that.
Mary's positive perspective was contagious and inspiring and she has many incredible and lasting accomplishments to show for it. Thank you Mary!
Colony Park Circle
Middle College alternatives
I read with interest the column by Elizabeth Lee concerning the lack of alternative high schools.
There is an alternative for high school students in the Palo Alto/Los Altos/Mountain View schools and that is Foothill Middle College.
This wonderful program serves juniors and seniors who are not getting what they need in traditional high schools.
The state core curriculum is followed for social sciences and English, then students have a choice of the panoply of courses taught at Foothill Community College. A wonderful benefit is that each quarterly course taken at the college is worth a full year of high school credit, and many students are able to graduate with college credits.
But most importantly, the students are valued for their individual gifts by the core high school teachers in this program. It was a place where my son, now a college freshman, thrived and found a sense of belonging that eluded him at Paly.
I don't know if Foothill Middle College would have worked for Ms. Lee or her son, but it's great that there is an alternative for those who want it.
Leave Cal. Ave. alone
A final note to beg the Palo Alto Planning Department and whatever civic entities hold sway to please leave California Avenue as it is.
At present it possesses an all-American small-town splendor: Cars drive up and down, bikes ride up and down, people park, people walk. We can now see the distant hills and the whole street has a marvelous open feeling. The proposed narrowing of the street and diddling with the parking to make the whole street more "pedestrian friendly" is another in a 40-year trail of over-designed, chi-chi, ruined urban streets that stretch from coast to coast.
Just look at the Castro Street debacle in nearby Mountain View for a classic example of well-intentioned urban design gone haywire. Castro Street is clumsy, awkward, clunky, ugly, difficult to maneuver as a driver, bike rider or pedestrian and it is visually chaotic with lots of heavy handed street "furniture,", knobby, snaky curbs, and goofy parking opportunities.
Send the well-meaning urban designers back to Seaside Florida — ground zero for their cutesy "New Urbanism." California Avenue has been designed by 70 years of use. It is, at present, a smooth-running and beautiful urban machine. Please do not destroy it.
Nix nit policy
I am the mom to two in Palo Alto schools, and my 4-year-old will be starting kindergarten next year. Since last year, despite treating our daughter multiple times with Nix, Rid (most head lice are resistant to permethrins now), malathion lotion (with three active ingredients) countless times, and treating our entire house and household over and over again, my children continue to be infected via their playmates at school.
I can honestly say I have been one of the strongest proponents for treating all children in school, given the current outbreak, but all school nurse Linda Lenoir can do is have a sorely outdated and disproven "no nit" policy while not beginning to treat the kids who actually havethe live, transmissible insects.
Because of the no-nit policy and my child's long curly thick hair, she has been sent home from school again and again, overall missing 10 days of school because if one empty egg sac chemically bonded to the hairshaft is not removed, the child cannot remain in school despite being already treated extensively.
I continue this fight against the ignorance and raw emotion of the school district nurses while not being able to convince them to apply their energies where they really are required and to get the live lice eradicated in all the students where it is currently ignored.
My child has lost far too many days because of the dstrict's inability to learn and apply current thinking.