New Garden alongside Gunn Around Town, posted by Art Liberman, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Nov 18, 2006 at 8:15 am
Has anyone else seen the new garden area alongside Gunn near the Arastradero - Foothill expwy intersection? While jogging by last week I saw a group of students digging new plants into the hillside that slopes down from the road, a place that had for years just been covered by straggly and unsightly weeds. I spoke with Chandara, the Gunn groundskeeper, about the project. He is an unseen treasure at Gunn, someone who spends extra time and effort keeping the school grounds looking attractive. He was the driving force behind this garden project, getting support from the school and the students, tilling the soil, and selecting the plants. But the best part for him was seeing the students dig the plants into the soil. They were willing to muddy their hands and feet to show the community and fellow students the pride they have in their school.
Posted by Penny, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Nov 21, 2006 at 9:14 am
Thank you for posting this.
My children are still in elementary school, and I hope the Gunn HS tradition of community service continues to grow and flourish. I see many high school kids in my neighborhood doing community service, and they really make a difference. They become role models to the younger children around them and they elicit the admiration and appreciation of our whole community for the good that they do.
By working together, they also build great friendhips and a sense of community that is irreplaceable.
Kudos to these kids!..and thank you to Art for taking notice.
Posted by High School Parent, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Nov 21, 2006 at 10:16 am
Not to take away from what the Gunn students are doing in the garden, I would like to point out that community service is part of the requirement for passing Living Schools, a required class for graduation. 15 hours community service minimum have to be accredited during the course and these programs have to be something the student chooses and arranges on his own. Many students do hours related to their interests, e.g. those interested in soccer do ayso coaching/assistant coaching for younger children. My daughter was on the Palo Alto Youth Council and spent some time working with the city. Senior centers, libraries, food banks, etc. are all places which encourage the students to help, as well as conservation programs at the Bay, etc.
All these programs do give the students opportunities to learn how it feels to help out, doing something for nothing, and learning the benefits of helping others. For many it is the beginning of a lifetime of volunteering. For others, it is just acquiring hours to pass a class. But for us as a community we can help by encouraging and praising all that they do. The validation angle is very important to them because having to do something for school and being told by one's family that it is a good thing to do is one thing, but to find praise from the community and strangers is so much better because it does give them a sense of belonging and validating who they are.
Posted by Student, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Nov 22, 2006 at 6:08 pm
I would also like to add that AP Physics teacher Bill Dunbar also helped to initiate the plan to plant flowers along the hillside. He also invited all his physics classes to help plant the flowers and shrubs. Dunbar bought some bulbs for the flowers and another student generously donated some as well.
P.S. to High School Parent:
I believe you mean living skills not living schools. Although I haven't attended the class b/c it just started this year and I'm graduating, I think it is also a great addition to Gunn.
Posted by High School Parent, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Nov 22, 2006 at 10:05 pm
Student - Thank you for correcting my error.
The real reason for my post is because I was not aware that Living Skills was new to Gunn. Paly has been doing it as a requirement for some time, my daughter has already graduated and now my son is doing the class. I would rather it for Juniors and Seniors though as I think some of the material is too mature for some of the 14 and 15 year olds. This is the class that has to take the baby home and look after its screaming in the middle of the night. One thing I would like to see is the community service part extended to two different sessions over perhaps a two year period with two different types of service being done. I would be interested to hear your comments on this.
Posted by Student, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Nov 26, 2006 at 3:33 pm
I like how community service is now becoming mandatory for all students at Gunn, but 15 hours seems like a very small amount. The school registrar will actually only document every 100 hours of community service on a transcript. Most students who do commit themselves to volunteer work usually do 100 hrs or more by graduation. Raising the minimum amount to 100 hrs would be practical because many other high schools require the same amount for graduation.
Posted by High School Parent, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Nov 27, 2006 at 11:28 am
The 15 hours requirement I mentioned is a requirement for the Living Skills class and does not appear on the transcript. I do like the idea of requiring more hours, but I am hesitant to make it a graduation requirement at the 100 hours level. I know this only works out at 25 hours a year over the 4 years of high school, but I do know that although freshman and sophomores can easily fit this into their schedule, I am not so sure about juniors and seniors. This time last year my daughter was a senior at Paly. She was on the Youth council which took up 1 hour per week, but occasionally more. She was in choir at school, which took up more hours outside class than other classes. She had two AP classes which again was more homework. She had a job which took up a minimum of 6 hours per week. She was also learning to drive which took up hours again. On top of this she was also involved in Church activities which took up another 4 hours or so per week.
We have some very stressed out students here and when it comes to those taking sports, drama, music, etc. and having after school jobs, I don't want to see more stress put on students to do community hours service. The idea is great in principle and certainly I like the idea of promoting it, particularly in the two lower grades (and at middle school), but making it a graduation requirement may just add to the level of stress we do not want to promote.
Posted by Josh Krumbein, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jan 10, 2008 at 1:31 am
Had my run for president of Paly 2 years past been successful then I assure you, I would have increased the required hours of volunteering ten-fold along with a few other revisions to the program. One problem I found with the current program is that many children lie about their volunteering and never actually do it. In order to correct this, I would have forced the children to work under my direct supervision. Also, instead of having them choose some unworthy cause like mere games such as soccer to volunteer for, I would have used the children to make the school campus a better place and create a safer and far more secure school. The largest and strongest men (and possibly women I suppose) would have been drafted into my Schutzstaffel (meaning protective squadron in the land of my Germanic ancestors) and I would have used them to crush any who dare to disobey. Since the freshmen are the future I would have recruited them into the Krumbein Youth program, where I would instill my upstanding ideals into them and drive any incorrect ideas out of their heads. Most of all I would teach them to persecute the theater kids whose trouble making ways would corrupt the entire school. In order to identify the threat of the theater kids, they would be forced to constantly wear stars to symbolize how they all think they are the star, both in and out of the stage. The key to making the slave I mean volunteer program work would of course be to instill fear among the children. Once I eliminated the theater kids from the picture I would plant spies among the volunteers and use these eyes and ears to take care of anyone who tried to oppose my rule with an iron fist.
Don't despair though, there is still the possibility that I could become president of the school. With enough support and loyalty I could still win this. To watch my campaign video visit Web Link Don't make the same mistakes I did, vote for me and support the volunteer program before it's too late!