GROWTH OR FLUKE? ... Seventy-six new students have enrolled in Palo Alto schools with a start date of Jan. 7 — the first day back after winter break. Last year that number was 42. "This is a 60 percent increase," noted Cathy Mak, the school district's business officer. Officials keep a close watch on enrollment numbers as they try to match new classroom space with the anticipated number of students. Luckily, Mak said, most of the newcomers will be accommodated in their neighborhood schools. However, "due to the number of new third-grade registrations, we have increased some of the classes to 24 to one" teacher. Before, the ratio was 23 students per teacher.
A TREE GROWS IN MADISON ... Stanford University kicked off 2013 in grand fashion when it ground out a 20-14 victory against University of Wisconsin at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. Stanford's big win also presented a smaller and more symbolic victory to Palo Alto officials and tree lovers. Thanks to a pre-game wager between Mayor Yiaway Yeh and Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, the mayor of the city with the losing team has to wear the victor's cap through an entire meeting and must fly the flag of the winning team over his city. In a truly Palo Alto twist, city officials had also agreed that the losing city plant a tree in honor of the winning city. Though ceremony might have to wait until Wisconson's winter sting clears, Palo Altans can rest assured that their greenthusiasm will soon spread to the Midwest.
SPEAK THE SPEECH ... Calling all high school students! The Palo Alto Rotary and University Club Rotary are inviting students attending local high schools — public and private — to participate in their annual speech contest. Participants will be asked to give an original, 4- to 5-minute speech that references at least one principle of Rotary's "4-Way Test" (which concerns truth, fairness, goodwill and mutual benefit). The first competition will take place Thursday, Jan. 10 in the Council Chambers at City Hall. The contest will have multiple rounds, by increasing geographical scope, and top winner will earn prizes totaling $1,550. More information is available at www.rotarypaloalto.org/YouthSpeechContest.cfm.