High school stress-busting initiatives working well, principals say | October 22, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - October 22, 2010

High school stress-busting initiatives working well, principals say

Later start time, major schedule changes greet Paly students this fall

by Chris Kenrick

Initiatives to cut student stress at Gunn and Palo Alto high schools this fall are working well, according to principals at both schools.

This story contains 853 words.

If you are a paid subscriber, check to make sure you have logged in. Otherwise our system cannot recognize you as having full free access to our site.

If you are a paid print subscriber and haven't yet set up an online account, click here to get your online account activated.

Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be e-mailed at ckenrick@paweekly.com.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 22, 2010 at 10:02 am

Getting them to school is part of the stress, traffic and particularly today being the first wet day makes the morning commute really difficult. Getting almost 2000 students plus staff to relatively small campuses with impacted routes and very little public transportation (or school buses) makes this difficult. As the schools grow bigger, this problem will only get worse.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 22, 2010 at 10:17 am

I'm a huge advocate of a later start time at Gunn High School. My son wakes up at 6:45 AM to get to Gunn High School by 7:45 AM in order to be in class on time by 7:55 AM. He's exhausted many days of the week because he's only sleeping seven and a half hours a night (if he's lucky) due to a large homework load. Research shows that teenagers need 9.25 hours of sleep a night. I know that starting school fifteen minutes later doesn't allow him to catch up on his sleep as much as needed, but it would boost the overall sleep he gets per week. Please move the time that school starts at Gunn High School to at least 8:15 AM.

Posted by paly parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 22, 2010 at 10:22 am

Mr. Winston has been an integral part of the stress reduction, the atmosphere at Paly is much more positive and welcoming.

The block schedule is great (although some of the classes can get a bit long and boring) but is seems like most of the teachers realize the kids need a break part way through the class to move around, go to the restroom, etc. It has made the homework load much more predictable.

The consistent start is terrific, being consistent is even more important than being later for my kids.

Regarding the survey the kids took, my son had a bunch of friends over the next day and they commented that the survey was so long that they got bored and randomly answered the last part of the questions.

Posted by great, a resident of Professorville
on Oct 22, 2010 at 10:27 am

This is such good news. Thank you for listening.

Posted by another paly parent, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Oct 22, 2010 at 11:26 am

We LOVE the new start time. Twenty five minutes makes an enormous difference!

Posted by Paly alumni, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 22, 2010 at 11:30 am

As an alumni, I just need to say... IT'S ABOUT TIME.

I like the way Principal McEvoy has gone about trying to lower stress, but in some ways I think the issue has been tackled from an awkward approach.

Sure, sleep does a lot of good for students - amen to the push for a later start in the morning. HOWEVER, from my personal experience, I need to point out the fact that a little more sleep can only do so much. Paly and Gunn are naturally very competitive schools, and it often drives our students to go above and beyond what they thought they could do. But there are causes of stress that are unnecessary, and those may lie in the teaching methods of some of the teachers. It may sound ridiculous, but perhaps what needs to be done is a reassessment of teaching abilities and instructional quality. There is too much busy work in some classes, while in other classes, the teacher "does not teach" effectively, leaving the students bewildered as to how to study for exams. Those were two clear and simple causes for a lot of my own stress and my peers' stress when I was student (if it helps to know, I very recently graduated from Paly).

It obviously is a much more difficult problem to try and solve when it's a matter of teaching ability, but I truly do believe that's a good chunk of the heart of the problem.

That said, I (pessimistically) don't foresee that huge changes will be made in this area, but I do hope that school administrators will take this into consideration at least. In the meantime, I look forward to what administrators can come up next with going about the stress problem.

Posted by interesting, a resident of Professorville
on Oct 22, 2010 at 11:45 am

interesting that Gunn already has had these initiatives going for years, some for decades, and that Gunn is the model for Paly

Posted by dontunderstand, a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 22, 2010 at 1:35 pm

If Gunn really wants to help students' emotional health, then why did they let Mr. Lira resign?

Posted by What exactly is PC?, a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 22, 2010 at 1:54 pm

It makes a nice soundbite that Gunn has embraced Project Cornerstone's Developmental Assets but what does that really mean? Besides administering a survey results of which will not arrive until Feb/March and sending folks to do more talking at Stanford, what changes have actually been made? I realize Ms. Villalobos is new but it is misleading to say changes have reduced stress when there has been no real changes. And what evidence is there that the students are feeling less stressed? Tell us when there are actual changes made...

Posted by Former Gunn Parent, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 22, 2010 at 2:24 pm

My child now attends Foothill college. He starts school at 10:00am is done at 3:00 What a difference. No more stress, and time to talk to friends and play music. We feel sorry for Gunn Students.

Posted by Curious, a resident of another community
on Oct 23, 2010 at 8:17 am

Former Gunn Parent, did your child leave Gunn for Foothill before graduating, and if so, in what year? Will he get a high school diploma and then move on to a 4-year college?

I too am wondering about what real effect the Developmental Assets program will have. A later start time and block scheduling are two real changes that seem to have had a positive impact. It would be nice to see both Gunn and Paly on block schedules and starting even later--how about 9, like the research suggests?

Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 23, 2010 at 3:25 pm

My son loves the block schedule and later start.

Posted by Mom, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 23, 2010 at 7:00 pm

@Parent: Doubt any top PAUSD high school student gets 9.25 hours of sleep on weekdays. He is fortunate to get 7.5 hours!

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields


The 2016-17 Info Guide is here!

Info Palo Alto, a resource guide for the Midpeninsula, features local information on schools, outdoors and recreation, government and arts & entertainment