Back to school | August 26, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - August 26, 2011

Back to school

Six Palo Alto teens reflect on the excitement, stresses of new academic year

by Chris Kenrick

After summers spent in activities ranging from "just hanging out" to sports camps to sleep-away camps to scooping ice cream to lab internships to world travel to service projects, more than 12,000 Palo Alto public school students returned to school this week. The Weekly caught up with six high school students to capture their feelings about the coming academic year.

This story contains 2370 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 emailed at


Posted by School buses? You must have REALLY looked to find those., a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2011 at 12:58 pm

WHERE did all the pictures of school buses come from? Busing is not available to the majority of PAUSD students. Free bus service for most students was eliminated due to Prop 13-related budget cuts ages ago. VERY limited bus service is available to kids with disabilities who are federally mandated for it, some students coming from outside the district, and a small number of students who commute from Los Altos Hills who PAY for school bus service. (Though they get this service at cost, it is quite expensive.)

Most of our intrepid PAUSD students (even the littlest ones) commute by bike or on foot,and carpool. Some older students ride the VTA bus or City of Palo Alto Shuttle. Some are driven solo in family cars, though the majority of families try not to be wasteful with carbon fuels and they enjoy sharing their school commute with friends using alternatives to solo driving.

Please share the road safely with the THOUSANDS of PAUSD children who walk and bike to school each school day. Busing is not an option for them, and just think how congested our roads would be if all those families were using cars. School has started. Please encourage families to walk and bike to school by watching out for them and driving safely.

PA Weekly--next time, please depict in your photos modes of transportation that are representative of what MOST PAUSD kids actually use-bikes and FOOT POWER. For most of us, buses are not an option. Go, PAUSD kids! Your commitment to foot-powered commutes is an inspiration to the rest of us...and good for our planet.

Posted by Secret Admirer, a resident of Professorville
on Aug 26, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Wow, that Eddie sounds like a real superstar!

Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 26, 2011 at 7:54 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 26, 2011 at 7:58 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by anon, a resident of another community
on Aug 26, 2011 at 9:12 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Get over it , a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 26, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Wow, so often we don't hear about the amazing students in our community until something tragic happens. These students are amazing and the focus is on the photos? Um the girl's dress is longer than the other girl's shorts but who cares? And there are plenty of PAUSD buses, often used for transporting sports teams but I am sure they must use them for other things. Geesh. Congrats to these awesome students!

Posted by actually..., a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 26, 2011 at 11:15 pm

That's more clothing than what I've seen on a lot of Gunn and Paly students over the past year on campus. Why isn't the dress code enforced? Is there a dress code?

Posted by Well..., a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 26, 2011 at 11:22 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Come on, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 27, 2011 at 8:29 am

Its worth pointing out that the kids who are pictured and their families read this forum and probably were pretty tickled to be featured in the paper. So before you caustically comment on some teenagers clothes, maybe think about how your teen or you as a teen would feel to have your picture in the paper called like that.

Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 27, 2011 at 8:56 am

Just wondering where the Weekly got the names of these students, who suggested them for the article? Are they truly representative of our student body because they sound wonderful, perhaps a little too wonderful?

Where are the students who spent the summer working at local businesses, babysat, went to the beach, learned to drive, stayed in bed til noon, and behaved like normal teenagers? Don't we have any teens like that anymore? I definitely know some.

PS. These kids were not dressed for school, they were dressed for a photo shoot. The school bus picture was obviously posed as buses do not run with only one child riding. School buses are a common symbol of school even if the average PAUSD student rarely if ever rides one.

Posted by right?, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 27, 2011 at 9:01 am

If someone is bragging too much,then any good wishes will quickly disappear if there is any in the beginning.

Posted by It's ok, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 27, 2011 at 9:17 am

Who was bragging too much? It seems that the point of this whole article is to get kids to brag about themselves.

Posted by LN, a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 27, 2011 at 9:53 am

What a bunch of mean-spirited comments! Buses are used by many students in PAUSD, and they are found in the corp yard by Paly. The students weren't bragging - they were interviewed by the Weekly and told their own stories. They were dressed appropriately for what they were doing, and the pictures were great.

Please remember, PAUSD is a unified school district and these students are representative of the diversity of achievement, clothing, and means of getting to school. If you have issues with those things, take them up in another thread. These students don't need to be attacked.

To these young people, thank you for sharing, and have a great year!

Posted by really, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 27, 2011 at 10:57 am

personally attacking some of the students above is just disrespectful and heartless. You have to remember that these kids are probably reading this thread and seeing all the hurtful comments. You adults are attacking these 17 year olds and its just immature. grow up a little

Posted by look for the good in life, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 27, 2011 at 11:11 am

Boy we ask a lot from our kids these day. They have to go to school, get their homework done, get astronomical grades, score extremely high on their standardized tests and that's not enough. Then they have to have extra-curricular activities such as sports, music or drama that wants 3 hours a day of their time and then that's not enough. They also have to do community service but not just any community service but to help build a house in Mexico. We ask lots from our kids and they deliver.

So an good article comes out about how hard and how busy these kids are and we denounce them and the background vehicles in the photo and their dress. In my day, dresses were much shorter with no bras and we didn't add a very nice sweater to the outfit but had flaming red hair to boot. The girl probably saves her best dress for very special occasions like having her picture in the Palo Alto Weekly.

@Bus go too deep. Don't lose site of the forest for the trees. Not everything is about commuting the proper ways. The author/photographer was simply using the bus icon as a clever means of setting the environment about 'back to school' this week which is what the article was about. Who cares really how the kids get to school. The important thing is that they are going to school and they are working extremely hard (probably just to please us). And the bus is an awesome way to get to school even if our buses are not school bus yellow. Lighten up some ok!

Any kid who just laid down and watched the clouds drift by this summer is ok with me. Oh yeah we're in Palo Alto that might not have happened.

Posted by SomebodysMom, a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 27, 2011 at 3:18 pm

I think the teen in the photo looks great! Are you all so old that you cannot remember dressing up for the first day of school? (Perhaps in your minds she should be wearing a poodle skirt and bobby socks? - sorry just a dig back at 'ya)

Times and fashions change. It is exciting for teens to be able to choose their own styles and wear the latest trends. I could not wear that cute dress but I have fond memories of the days when I could. Even the very staid world of classical music has taken a bow to the changing winds of fashion. Check out this article: Web Link

Besides, I am entirely impressed with what I READ about this intelligent, creative, and compassionate young lady. I think she will have great success in pursuing a career in aerospace and government and will do it all with style!

Good luck to all these impressive young people and I wish them much success this school year and beyond.

Posted by It's ok, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 27, 2011 at 4:25 pm

We are all impressed with what these teens sound like on paper, but dare to venture a guess how most of them actually are in real life?

Posted by Old Palo Alto, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 27, 2011 at 5:18 pm

"We are all impressed with what these teens sound like on paper, but dare to venture a guess how most of them actually are in real life?"

Most of them will be average people, just like you. And that is just fine.

Posted by It's ok, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 27, 2011 at 6:36 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by A Mom young at heart, a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2011 at 10:34 pm

p.s. these lovely youths are our future we should shower them with unconditional love! <3

Posted by gunn parent, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 27, 2011 at 10:35 pm

To the person who complains about this group of teens not representative? You mean the paper has to include someone you know, or your kid, to make it more representative? I see it has pretty good coverage, some of them focused more on community service, others excelled in academic, and then you have the kid who loves carpentering? Do there have to include someone who lay on the grass, stair at the sky for half a day?

Posted by Well..., a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 27, 2011 at 11:59 pm

I wish the Weekly and PaloAltoOnline stopped writing and publishing such articles about a few chosen Palo Alto high school kids who are all exceptional in one way or another... This is just the kind of thing who makes just about everybody else (and their parents) feel bad and inadequate. Please, stop running these kinds of articles and focus on what schools do to teach our kids and also to let them know it's OK to have a life other than running around trying to please one's parents and going to Ivy League Universities at all costs.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 28, 2011 at 10:22 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Marielena, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 28, 2011 at 12:55 pm

I am so glad to hear about these young adults, but specially Miss Blanchard. She is really someone to admire. My message to all students is to take time to relax and enjoy life. Feel free to ask for help if you are having academic or emotional issues. We, the community and your parents will always love you no matter what. Stay safe. Blessings and Have a wonderful school year.