STRESS IN THE WINDY CITY ... Fresh back from five days in Chicago for the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, members of the Gunn High School Orchestra played a tune for the Palo Alto Board of Education this week. Even as they partied it up in Chicago — with a dinner-dance cruise on Lake Michigan, a guided city tour and a deep-dish pizza party — an orchestra member said the stress of the upcoming performance loomed. "The first thing that comes to mind is all the pressure, knowing we were honored to represent the City of Palo Alto and knowing in the back of our heads, wherever we went in Chicago, that 'Oh my god' we were going to have to perform," cellist Irene Jeong recalled. But the performance went well and, in the end, Jeong said the trip was an "exceptional, team-building experience" for the teen musicians.
RUNNER UP ... Nerdwallet called Palo Alto California's fourth-best city for job seekers. It was eked out by nearby San Ramon, Folsom and Cupertino. If the prevailing three medal winners raise an eyebrow or two, it's worth mentioning that one of the criteria the study uses to determine a city's attractiveness to job seekers is its homeowner's costs, such as mortgages. Ah ha. Other characteristics the site looked at were the growth of its working-age population, the unemployment rate and the median household income. Despite what some residents might consider to be a bit of a disappointing showing on the list, the article's description of Palo Alto gets a little gushy. It says it "exemplifies the greatness of Silicon Valley" and evokes Garrison Keillor with the line: "The weather is perfect, the people are beautiful, and all the kids are above average." It cites the city's 3.6 percent unemployment rate, its high education rate and high median income as factors for its selection. There's no word on whether it measures time spent fuming in traffic.
YOUTH SPEECH CONTEST ... The Palo Alto Rotary Clubs are calling for all Palo Alto high school students attending Castilleja, Gunn, Palo Alto and Kehilla to participate in the Palo Alto Rotary Youth Annual Speech Contest. The tiered contest ranges from a $100 top prize at the local club level to $1,000 for the top district winner. There are four contests in all, with three prizes for each level. Awards are targeted toward student education. This year's theme is "Engage Rotary, Change Lives." Speeches must be original, four to five minutes long and reference at least one principle of "The Rotary 4-Way Test." The first competition is Thursday, Jan. 23, at 7 p.m. in the Palo Alto City Council Chambers, 250 Hamilton Ave. More details are available at www.rotarypaloalto.org/YouthSpeechContest.cfm. The event is sponsored by Palo Alto Rotary and University Club Rotary Clubs.