Around TownINAUGURAL KIDS ... A passion for video became a ticket to next Monday's presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., for five local high school students. Dakota Baker and Nitya Kasturi of Gunn, and Alec Furrier and Kenny Jones of Paly, along with Caroline Clark of Woodside, will interview elected officials and create videos during the festivities. The five will be accompanied by former Palo Alto Mayor Yiaway Yeh, Midpeninsula Media Center program manager Becky Sanders and intern Wes Rapaport. Expenses will be paid by Democratic Municipal Officials, a national organization of elected Democratic municipal officials of which Yeh is a board member. The team began creating videos about Palo Alto's infrastructure last year as part of the Mayor's Youth Video Corps program. Inauguration tickets were arranged through the office of U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo. The kids will be blogging their experiences on Palo Alto Online this weekend. To read their blog, visit www.PaloAltoOnline.com.
CATCHING UP? ... After nearly 100 years as the Stanford University School of Education, Stanford's "ed school" this week announced it is changing its name to the Stanford Graduate School of Education. At a time when many schools of education are under fire or suffering identity crises, Stanford said inserting "graduate" into the school name will remind people of the important work done there. "Our graduate school has long been a place for educational innovation, the training of expert teachers and the advanced study of pedagogy," Stanford President John Hennessy said in a statement. "Now its name is catching up with its pioneering work." The school has about 400 graduate students. Roughly half of last year's alums headed off to become schoolteachers while others pursued careers in academia, research, business and education management. Eleven of the 82 faculty members turned up on a list of the 100 most influential educational scholars published recently in Education Week.
SPEECH, SPEECH ... After an evening of speechmaking, Gunn High School students Divya Saini and Anthony Su and Palo Alto High School student Addie McNamara were declared winners of the 2012-13 Speech Contest sponsored by the Palo Alto and Palo Alto University Rotary clubs. Topics ranged from volunteer work to what it takes to get into medical school to "conscious consumerism." Contestants, including Gunn's Grace Park, Paly's Maryssa Sklaroff and Castilleja's Izzy Pelosi, Sophie Pelosi and Alexandra Zafran, presented their speeches Jan. 10 in the Palo Alto City Council chamber. "I was awed by their poise, sophistication and content of their presentation," Rotarian Annette Glanckopf said. First-place winner Saini will carry the baton forward to compete in the next level of the Rotary contest, to be held Feb. 7 in Los Altos.
WHAC-A-MOLE, ANYONE? ... That was the way Palo Alto police Chief Dennis Burns said he felt about shifting personnel since staffing in his department is down. Burns spoke before the city Human Relations Commission on Jan. 10 about the adjustments the department has had to make this last year. Seven positions have been frozen due to budget constraints, which hopefully can be loosened when the new fiscal year begins in July, he said. Five personnel are on disability. The department has moved staff to different shifts based on crime trends, he said. "It's made us a little bit more reactive than we want to be. ... It seems like we're playing Whac-A-Mole," he said of the arcade game in which moles pop up from holes in a cabinet to be whacked down with a mallet.