Holiday Spirit

Eighth-grade students at St. Elizabeth Seton School, from left, Anayeli Lopez, Briana Diaz, Aaron Andrade, Jocelyn Galvan (center), Jimmy Paine and Angel Garcia, read about the physical sciences while doing classwork with their new textbooks in class on Dec. 7, 2017. Photo by Veronica Weber.

Posted December 8, 2017

Students given the gift of knowledge
Holiday Fund grant provides students with much-needed new science textbooks

By Alexandria Cavallaro

The classroom sat in captivated silence in late November as science teacher Scott Bell explained the day's lesson, lecturing from a pristine textbook. Each of the 27 eighth-grade students at St. Elizabeth Seton School, dressed in navy and red uniforms, had his or her own copy open and followed along. Extra science textbooks were stacked neatly in rows on countertops in the back corner of the room.

Eighth-grader Ashley Magallon, who has attended the nonprofit Palo Alto school since kindergarten, received her brand-new textbook this fall. Previously, students like Ashley and Aaron Andrade, who has also been enrolled for nine years, struggled to learn from books published in 2008 that were not only worn from years of use but were also on the brink of inaccuracy. Because the textbooks no longer met Next Generation Science Standards, a set of national educational guidelines written and finalized by 26 states in 2013 and revised periodically, science teachers had to seek out or create supplemental materials to adhere to the requirements.

"We had very outdated texts before, so it was imperative that we update the series," Principal Evelyn Rosa said.

With the support of a $10,000 grant from The Palo Alto Weekly's Holiday Fund and $5,000 from The Thomas Merton Center, St. Elizabeth Seton School was able to provide new Glencoe Series science textbooks and additional LearnSmart software for all 90 of its sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.

St. Elizabeth Seton School eighth-graders from left, Yamarie Martinez, Anayeli Lopez, Briana Diaz and Victoria Mora, talk with science teacher Scott Bell while they study about the states of matter while working from their textbooks on Dec. 7, 2017. The school purchased the new textbooks with grants from the Holiday Fund.
The textbooks fulfill the requirements for sixth-grade Earth and Space, seventh-grade Life Science and eighth-grade Physical Science curricula. Bell noted, however, that the Life Science books are also a great supplemental resource for his fifth-grade students.

The new books' detailed diagrams and the accompanying interactive software are especially helpful for English-as-a-second-language learners like Ashley, Aaron and their classmates, school staff said. The interactive software provides videos, review questions calibrated to the learning needs of students and the opportunity for teachers to include their own notes for their students.

Though students arrive at the school speaking English, the majority come from low-income homes in East Palo Alto and east Menlo Park, where English is not the first spoken language. The adaptive and visual elements of the new science textbooks and software are particularly key to helping this population of students learn effectively.

"Right now we're reading about atoms, and it showed a picture of what atoms are made of," Aaron said. The diagrams, and the way the book simplifies concepts, make the material feel more accessible to him, he added.

"The old ones, they would just have an excessive amount of information and wouldn't simplify it with how it is relevant to your life," Aaron said.

Ashley agreed that the shorter sections of the new textbooks make it easier for her to study.

"Some textbooks are way too busy, but these kind of hit the sweet spot," Bell said. He's glad that the new books are largely concept-based, presenting the core concept and then breaking the matter down into smaller, more digestible components.

After familiarizing students with the structure of the new textbooks, Bell said, "The next step (will) be to integrate the software without diluting the reading process we've established."

Bell said that the vocabulary of the books is slightly above students' reading level, but he isn't concerned. He prefers to "teach up," he said.

"It's above," he said, "but it's accessible."

To help students grasp the concepts and language, teachers take the time to work with students in small groups so that each can have individualized attention when working through more difficult grammatical concepts.

The population of students at Seton School is 80 percent Hispanic, with just under 10 percent of students from the Pacific Islands, and, according to Carmel Caligaris, the school's advancement director, the majority of students will be first generation high school and college students.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that, in 2015, about 50 percent of Hispanic East Palo Alto teens graduated high school and a mere 10 percent continued to higher education. In contrast, 95 percent of students from the Seton School graduate high school and 75 percent continue on to some form of higher education. The graduation rates among school alumni are a source of pride, not just for the accomplished students, but for their parents and the whole Seton community.

"We want to prepare our students to share in the prosperity that Silicon Valley offers," Caligaris wrote in the school's application to the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund earlier this year.

Apply for a Holiday Fund Grant

Nonprofits serving children and families may apply for funds by downloading our Grant Application Guidelines and Grant Application Form. Application deadline: 11:59 p.m. on Friday, January 13, 2023.

Make a donation
2022 Recipient Agency

49ers Academy$10,000

AbilityPath$10,000

Able Works$10,000

Ada's Cafe$25,000

Adolescent Counseling Services$7,500

Art in Action$10,000

Bay Area Friendship Circle$5,000

Beyond Barriers Athletic Foundation$5,000

Big Brothers Big Sisters
of the Bay Area
$10,000

Blossom Birth & Family$5,000

Canopy$5,000

CASA of San Mateo County$5,000

Children's Health Council$10,000

Christmas Bureau of Palo Alto$5,000

Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto$10,000

Counseling and Support Services for Youth - CASSY$15,000

DreamCatchers$15,000

East Palo Alto Academy Foundation$10,000

East Palo Alto Charter School$5,000

East Palo Alto Kids Foundation$15,000

East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring$15,000

East Palo Alto YMCA$10,000

Eastside College
Preparatory School
$7,500

EPACENTER$10,000

Family Connections$7,500

Fit Kids Foundation$5,000

Foundation for a
College Education
$10,000

Fresh Approach$10,000

Friends for Youth$5,000

Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo$10,000

Heart and Home Collaborative$10,000

Hope Horizon East Palo Alto$7,500

Jasper Ridge Farm$5,000

Kara$15,000

Learning Home Volunteers$10,000

Live In Peace$10,000

Magical Bridge Foundation$10,000

Mannakin Theater & Dance$5,000

Marine Science Institute$5,000

Midpen Media Center$7,500

Music in the Schools Foundation$8,000

My New Red Shoes$5,000

New Voices for Youth$5,000

Pacific Art League of Palo Alto$12,000

Palo Alto Art Center Foundation$10,000

Palo Alto Community Child Care $30,000

Palo Alto Players$10,000

Peer Point$20,000

Peninsula Bridge$10,000

Peninsula College Fund$10,000

Peninsula Healthcare Connection$10,000

Peninsula Volunteers$15,000

Peninsula Youth Theatre$5,000

Pursuit of Excellence Scholarship Foundation$20,000

Ravenswood Classroom Partners$20,000

Ravenswood Education Foundation$10,000

Reading Partners
Silicon Valley
$10,000

ReadySetExcel$5,000

Rebuilding Together Peninsula$7,500

Resource Area for
Teaching (RAFT)
$5,000

Rich May Foundation$5,000

Rise Together Education$10,000

Ronald McDonald House$5,000

Rosalie Rendu Center$5,000

Sager Family Farm$5,000

Silicon Valley
Urban Debate League
$7,500

St. Elizabeth Seton School$10,000

TheatreWorks$5,000

UNAFF (United Nations Association Film Festival)$10,000

WeHOPE$15,000

WomenSV$7,500

Youth Community Service$25,000

Child Care Grants

All Five$10,000

Covenant Children's Center$10,000

Creative Montessori
Learning Center
$10,000

Grace Lutheran Preschool$10,000

Palo Alto Friends Nursery School$10,000

Parents Nursery School$10,000


As of December 7th, 165 donors have contributed $145,397 to the Holiday Fund.
* indicates amount withheld at donor's request

24 Anonymous7,075
Eileen & Rick Brooks1,000
Maureen O'Connor150
Martha Shirk1,200
Jennifer DiBrienza & Jesse Dorogusker1,000
Diane and Brandy Sikic*
Alicia Newman100
Dorsey & Katherine Bass300
Edie Kirkwood1,000
Micri & Bob Cardelli*
George & Betsy Young*
Diana Diamond1,000
Brigid Barton 2,000
Korol Family250
Lawrence R. Yang & Jennifer W. Kuan10,000
Anthony & Susan Wood25,000
Lynn and Andrew Newman*
Katherine Bryant100
Barbara Riper*
Sally & Craig Nordlund500
Carolyn Caddes*
Kroymann Family250
Marian Adams100
Roy & Carol Blitzer*
Elaine Hah1,500
Retired*
Julie & Dan Lythcott-Haims250
Tess & Eric Byler150
Denise and Jeff Simons*
Keith and Linda Clarke*
Harriet Benson10,000
Arthur Keller250
Cynthia Costell100
George & Betsy Bechtel200
Ellen M. Lillington200
Tom & Nancy Fiene200
Tom & Patricia Sanders*
Amado & Deborah Padilla250
Margo Sensenbrenner*
Merele McClure250
Joanne Koltnow400
Christina Kenrick1,000
Richard Johnsson5,000
Xiaofan Lin100
Bonnie and Bryan Street*
Thomas Rindfleisch*
Jody Maxmin*
Diane and Joe Rolfe*
Diane Finkelstein250
Linda & Steve Boxer*
David & Betsy Fryberger400
Jan Aarts*
Judith Appleby300
Donald Barr150
Charles & Barbara Stevens*
Edward Kanazawa300
Karen A. Latchford*
Kingsley Jack250
Richard Zuanich150
Patti Yanklowitz and Mark Krasnow100
Denise Savoie and Darrell Duffie*
Elizabeth Salzer & Richard Baumbartner*
Marcia & Michael Katz200
Scott and Jan Kilner500
Dorothy Saxe100
Kieschnick family1,000
Barbara Klein*
Dorothy Deringer200
Art and Peggy Stauffer500
Ed & Linda DeMeo500
Penny & Greg Gallo500
Scottie Zimmerman100
Fran Codispoti250
Ted & Ginny Chu*
The Dong Family200
Bill Reller*
Harry E & Susan B Hartzell100
Ann Burrell & Charles Smith*
Janis Ulevich*
Theradep Technologies500
Jack and Susan Thomas*
Julie and Jon Jerome*
Andrea B. Smith100
Leif and Sharon Erickson500
The Havern Family5,000
Gwen Luce and Family*
Bruce Campbell*
Freddy & Jan Gabus250
Richard & Pat Douglas50
Susan & Doug Woodman150
Donald Price*
Judy Ousterhout*
Judy Kramer*
Kingston Duffie & Elizabeth Schwerer500
Roger & Joan Warnke300
Jerry & Bobbie Wagger*
John Keller100
Mahlon & Carol Hubenthal*
Margaret Forsyth and Glenn Rennels*
Charlotte Johansen200
Leo & Marlys Keoshian250
Donna Silverberg100
Paul & Jane Millman250
In Memory Of

Walter Dean*
Er-Ying and Y.C. Yen250
Jack Sutorius750
Michele Wilson*
Bob Donald350
Leonard Ware*
Robert Spinrad100
August King*
Bob Simoni500
David W. Mitchell*
Paul Seaver*
Gerald Berner300
Ian Halliday250
Ray Bacchetti300
Marie and Don Snow200
Andre Jones *
Jim and Dottie Mellberg*
Ruth & Chet Johnson*
David Sager100
Ted Linden200
Lily & Philip Gottheiner150
Chet Brown*
Phil Zschokke200
Nellie Perna Bartello100
Bob Donald*
Steven T. Ross100
In Honor Of

Marilyn Sutorius750
Darla Tupper3,922
Leo & Sylvia Breidenbach and Thomas & Louise Phinney1,000
Polly Caddes*
Joe Simitian*
Gabby Perez & Logan Marsh250
Dr Ron Radzilowski*
Businesses & Organizations

Angelo Family Foundation 5,000
Palo Alto Business Park*
Hearts & Minds Activity Center75
Alta Mesa Cemetery & Funeral Home2,500
Peery Foundation10,000
Arrillaga Foundation10,000

Past Holiday Fund Grant Recipients

2018-2019 | 2017-2018 | 2016-2017 | 2015-2016 | 2014-2015 | 2013-2014 | 2012-2013 | 2011-2012 | 2010-2011 | 2009-2010 | 2008-2009 | 2007-2008 | 2006-2007 | 2005-2006 | 2004-2005 | 2003-2004 | 2002-2003 | 2001-2002 | 2000-2001 | 1999-2000