Editor's noteThe accompanying essay ("Guest Opinion: Making connections") is an expanded version of the column published Sept. 2, 2011, in the Palo Alto Weekly. Like a previous piece titled "High school life: To whom it may concern," published a year ago in the Weekly, this piece provides insights gleaned by the author, a teacher, from working with students at Gunn High School.
It is presented anonymously in order for the focus to be on the content.
While the teacher writes about his experiences at Gunn, his observations apply to both Palo Alto high schools and to high schools in all high-achievement communities.
Substantial efforts have been made at Gunn and in the Palo Alto Unified School District in the past two and a half years to recognize and improve responses to students' emotional needs and well-being. Individual students and teachers, administrators and parents have responded creatively in many important areas, from extending themselves personally to any teen who might need a listening ear to instituting new programs aimed at increasing connectedness and reducing stress.
We invite anyone who is actively involved with Palo Alto schools and teens to provide additional perspective and context by commenting on the Town Square forum on Palo Alto Online. And we ask young persons to join the discussion on the issues raised in the essay and reactions to it. The voices of young persons are a vitally important component in this continuing dialogue that addresses the very roots.