Palo Alto school finds new home in Mountain View

Palo Alto Prep students have aptitude for college but don't fit into the local high schools' college tracks, staff say

Private high school Palo Alto Prep might need a new name, following a move from Cubberley Community Center in south Palo Alto to a new location in Mountain View.

The school, which starts its new year Aug. 29, occupied roughly 4,000 square feet at Cubberley. Its new facility at 2462 Wyandotte St. boasts 11,000 square feet -- enough room to comfortably accommodate the school's current student body of 60 teens and allow it room to grow.

Palo Alto Prep students are typically those with the educational talent to go to college but who did not fit into the local high schools' college tracks, Dean of Students Lisa O'Hearn-Keck said.

"The kids that go to school here are kids that in mainstream environment, in a large class size, would probably get grades a level below what they would get with small class size," O'Hearn-Keck said.

Small classes are the school's calling card, with five to eight students in each class on average. Palo Alto Prep also offers learning outside the classroom environment, including several trips around the country and one international trip each year.

Tuition at Palo Alto Prep hovers around $25,000 a year which includes the trips, with the exception of overnight stays, according to Palo Alto Prep founder and director Chris Keck.

Keck said he hopes the move will help bring reality closer to his vision for the school. The director said he felt restricted at Cubberley.

"(Cubberley) opened in the '50s, then closed in the '70s. We moved in shortly after that, and it was tired then," Keck said. "Then in the last 25 years it's gotten real sleepy."

School officials found an unusual source to furnish their Mountain View building: Roche Pharmaceutical. The company's acquisition of Genentech, and subsequent departure from Palo Alto, turned out to be a gold mine for the school.

"Everything you see here is from Roche," Keck said recently, waving his hand around the bright new facility. Keck pointed to the doors, explaining that they are fireproof. "We don't need them, but we got them for free."

The gleaming chemistry classroom bristles with the latest technology and speaks to the equipments' origins.

The high school also uses technology to keep parents in the loop on how their students are performing. Parents receive weekly report cards, and teachers post all assignments on the Internet so parents can take a look for themselves.

As students launch the academic year in their new facility, it appears one thing will remain the same: Keck hasn't indicated a name change is coming for the Mountain View school.


Like this comment
Posted by Enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 10, 2012 at 11:19 am

Why would it change it's name? Lot's of Palo Alto named places are in other cities.

Like this comment
Posted by Stretch
a resident of another community
on Aug 10, 2012 at 11:50 am

Palo Alto Military Academy? The name gives it, some cache.

Like this comment
Posted by Rajiv Bhateja
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Why can't the PAUSD schools provide weekly report cards and post all assignments online?

Like this comment
Posted by Enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 10, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Palo Alto Military Academy? With Palo Alto's current political demographic? Thanks for the belly laugh, I needed that.

Like this comment
Posted by svre
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 11, 2012 at 2:04 pm

We moved here in 1940 when a Palo Alto Military Academy was located on Harriet Street, a block or two from the Children's Library. We kids didn't laugh at the boys marching in their uniforms since we knew it was an option for any boy who needed some discipline.

Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 11, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Rajiv - it would be great if teachers were required to post grades weekly and put assignments online. I think teachers are currently only required to post their grades once a quarter. Talk to the teacher's union!

Like this comment
Posted by alan
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 11, 2012 at 6:28 pm

It's so amusing to read Palo Altans when they post statements that come from a completely uninformed viewpoint. Makes them look right provincial. Then of course, let's top it off with shot at the teachers' union. Sheesh. To: Palo Alto Mom and Rajiv Bhateja, assignments and grades are online. Infinite Campus is the program used by all teachers to post grades. You obviously don't have a PAUSD kid, or you would be familiar with it. Maybe you are just happy being ignorant of what can be commonly called a fact... I can only laugh at your anti-union, anti-progressive nonsense. Without unions, we'd be even more at the mercy of people like you....the uninformed.

Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 11, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Alan - grades are posted on Infinite Campus, but not all teacher's update them on a regular basis. My daughter is a sophomore and I have a son who is a Paly graduate. Some of their teachers were great about posting regularly. Some posted once a week, some once a month, some once a quarter. I think in one class my son only received semester grades. There are also teacher who are great about turning back work promptly and some (English teachers) who don't turn back essays at all...

I'm not uniformed - perhaps you are? I would love it if the teachers were required to update grades on individual assignments on a regular basis. The private schools manage to do it at least weekly, perhaps we could manage monthly?

Like this comment
Posted by Clair C.
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 15, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Our family is very pleased to see that Palo Alto Prep has found a new home. Two of our children attended and graduated from PAP and both are now attending 4 year colleges. Thank you and "way to go PAP!"

Like this comment
Posted by George
a resident of University South
on Aug 17, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Didn't Palo Alto Military Academy change it's name to Harker?

Like this comment
Posted by Not Alan
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2013 at 5:44 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

PAUSD has never mandated the posting of grades online in (first) InClass, (then) InfiniteCampus, and (now) Schoology. The #1 reason is it's not in the teachers' union contract. And the school board and administration have never made this a priority.

Like this comment
Posted by paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 7, 2013 at 8:21 am

at least at paly, every teacher posts grades mid quarter and at the end of the quarter and of course, at the end of the semester. most of my daughter's teachers post weekly. i wish all of them posted once a week!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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