News


Community, district organize forums to discuss student wellness

 

The Palo Alto school district and community groups have organized several events over the next few weeks to provide further platforms for conversations about student wellness.

On Thursday, Feb. 19, the district will host a panel presentation on sleep and health called, "Wake Up Call: The Role of Sleep and Teen Health." The panel will feature Stanford University School of Medicine child/adolescent and adult psychiatrist Steven Adelsheim; Holly Pederson, director of community education and coordinator of family violence prevention services for Bay Area family resource center Parents Place; Rafael Pelayo, psychiatry and behavioral science professor at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine; Palo Alto High School guidance counselor Susan Shultz and school district Associate Superintendent Charles Young.

The panelists will discuss the science behind sleep and health, what parents can look for, strategies to ensure children are getting enough sleep, and efforts the school district is considering to better facilitate student sleep. The presentation will be followed by a discussion.

The sleep event will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. at Mitchell Park Community Center's El Palo Alto Room at 3700 Middlefield Road. It is co-sponsored by the City of Palo Alto, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, youth well-being coalition Project Safety Net, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and the Palo Alto Council of PTAs.

The district is also co-sponsoring "Let's Talk: A Community Conversation about Healthy Kids and Healthy Schools" on Wednesday, Feb. 25, with the City of Palo Alto and Project Safety Net. The event will be moderated by Dr. Shashank Joshi, a Stanford University adolescent psychiatrist who has led much of the suicide-prevention work in Palo Alto since the student suicides in 2009 and 2010. Panelists will include Palo Alto Medical Foundation pediatric doctor Amy Heneghan, Stanford University School of Medicine child/adolescent and adult psychiatrist Steven Adelsheim, district parent Kathleen Blanchard, Community Services Department Assistant Director Rob de Geus (one of two primary city employees who run Project Safety Net), a current Gunn High School student, Palo Alto High School alumna and McGee. Each panelist will briefly speak before the evening is opened up to questions and comments from the audience, which can be submitted via notecard or email.

"Too often we act as a collection of separate communities, but now it is time to come together as a collective community to address the mental health needs of our young people," Superintendent Max McGee wrote in a newsletter including details about the Feb. 25 event. "In other words, whether we are parents, coaches, educators, employers, siblings or friends, we each have an important role in supporting and strengthening the mental health of our young people. This is not a school problem; it is a community problem. So let's work together."

The event will start at 7 p.m. at the Cubberley Community Theatre, 4000 Middlefield Road, T2. McGee said overflow seating will be provided in the Cubberley gym with a live video feed. The district will also provide a link to an online survey to solicit further feedback after the meeting.

On Sunday, March 1, there will be a forum dedicated to hearing from Palo Alto students. "Listening to Youth Voices" will feature a youth panel, time for students to speak on open mic and remarks by school board member Ken Dauber and City Councilman Pat Burt.

Only 22 percent of Palo Alto teens said in a recent survey that they felt heard or valued in the community, the event description notes.

"We're asking youth to share their thoughts on the subject of youth well-being: how they perceive their lives, what they would like, what would make them feel better, more included, and more valued across the domains of school, home, and community," the event description reads. "We are asking adults to actively listen to what our children have to say."

The event will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Palo Alto at 1985 Louis Road, with doors opening at 4:30 p.m. From 5:10 to 6 p.m. the youth panelists will speak, facilitated by Palo Alto Medical Foundation Health Education Manager Becky Beacom, and from 6 to 6:50 p.m. there will be free open-mic time during which other youth can speak. Burt and Dauber will give opening and closing remarks, respectively. There will be Mandarin and Spanish translation available.

The youth forum is sponsored by a range of local and regional organizations: Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI), Community Advisory Committee for Special Education, First Congregational Church of Palo Alto, Padres Hispanos de Paly, Palo Alto Chinese Parents Club, Parent Advocates for Student Access (PASS), the Student Equity Action Network (SEAN), Silicon Valley Women Alliance, St. Mark's Episcopal Church of Palo Alto, United for a Better Community (UBC) and We Can Do Better Palo Alto. For more information, email payouthforum2015@gmail.com.

The City of Palo Alto is also hosting a teen forum on Friday, March 27, at 6 p.m. at the Mitchell Park Community Center.

On Saturday, Feb. 28, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church will host a conference on adolescent mental health and related topics (including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, harmful behaviors, sexuality, learning differences, family and caregiver support and more). "Parenting Teens Through the Challenges of Life" will feature keynote speakers and afternoon workshops, led by experts in their fields, to discuss adolescent behavioral and mental health issues and how to identify and treat these issues. The keynote speakers are Philippe Rey, executive director of Adolescent Counseling Services; Amy Simpson, author of "Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church's Mission" and "Anxious: Choosing Faith in a World of Worry"; and John Ortberg, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church's senior pastor. The event costs $25 per person; scholarships are available. For more information or to register, go to mppc.org/events/ParentingTeens.

IF YOU'RE GOING...

WHAT: 'Wake Up Call: The Role of Sleep and Teen Health'

WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 19, 7 to 9 p.m.

WHERE: Mitchell Park Community Center, El Palo Alto Room, 3800 Middlefield Road

------

WHAT: 'Let's Talk: A Community Conversation about Healthy Kids and Healthy Schools'

WHEN: Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m.

WHERE: Cubberley Community Theatre, 4000 Middlefield Road, T2

------

WHAT: 'Parenting Teens Through the Challenges of Life'

WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 28, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

WHERE: Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, 950 Santa Cruz Ave.

------

WHAT: 'Listening to Youth Voices'

WHEN: Sunday, March 1, 5 to 7 p.m. (doors open at 4:30 p.m.)

WHERE: First Congregational Church of Palo Alto, 1985 Louis Road

------

WHAT: City of Palo Alto Teen Forum

WHEN: Friday, March 27, 6 p.m.

WHERE: Mitchell Park Community Center, 3800 Middlefield Road

Elena Kadvany

Comments

8 people like this
Posted by grateful voter
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 14, 2015 at 9:20 am

Fantastic. Thanks to Ken Dauber and Pat Burt and all the community organizations for holding the March 1 Youth Forum. I am so glad to have Dauber on the board -- what a breath of fresh air. I sure hope we can get some more board members like Dauber (and Burt) who put students first in the next election.


14 people like this
Posted by Still hopeful
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Feb 14, 2015 at 9:32 am

I applaud these efforts, and I hope they are for more than just show. However, part of me is wondering why the district needs to wait for an event to hear us, when they could do a lot by just listening to us when we try to communicate in the course of school.

We complain about too much homework, and it changes nothing except to make teachers proactively blame everything else but the homework. That's a recurring theme with this district, they seem so averse to accepting any responsibility for anything being less than perfect, they don't know how to solve even the most germane problems, since obviously you can't solve a problem you will do anything in your power never to admit to anything being wrong in the first place. Look at the language above, "This is not a school problem; it is a community problem."

My kid only gets asthma from attending school, from pretty obvious conditions. We have personally made herculean efforts to get things fixed and the majority of the energy in their response has been retaliatory, cover up, pettiness, bad faith. It's stressful to continue to deal with the health impacts, the costs, and even more stressful to deal with the district employees behaving badly. How is that not a school problem?

The most major source of stress in our household is not being able to set boundaries on the school day. How is that not a school problem? They get an F- for communication and trustworthiness, and while the grade for responsiveness on the environmental health issue ranges all the way from an A in some instances, if I had to average it the way they do the kids grades, I think they get about a D- or an F- overall.... (Can I give a G or an H?)

When is the last time anyone heard anyone in the district admit to or apologize for doing anything wrong? (Again, please no speciousness about liability, which is not incurred by taking responsibility and apologizing, it's actually massively incurred by coverups and failure to take responsibility or apologizing.) Someone should explain to the district that modeling good behavior helps kids, that telling them to do as they say and not as they do is modeling what's called "hypocrisy". As is staging a public "conversation" with the public while failing to listen in the course of school. (Hint to district: watching people move their lips while having no intention of letting the content of what they are saying change you or impact what you do is not really "listening" in this context.)

[Portion removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by What if
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 14, 2015 at 11:12 am

I wonder if some of our termed out council members such as Burt would consider running for school board. [Portion removed.] But what if someone with some gravitas and some independence such as Burt Holman was to run for school board and make it run more like a governing body and less like a PTAC meeting? That would be great.


Like this comment
Posted by What if
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 14, 2015 at 11:29 am

Sorry that's Burt OR Holman.


7 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 15, 2015 at 9:35 am

So very pleased to see the local churches coming together as part of this.

I would love to see a list of all the church, and similar, youth groups and youth activities on a regular basis with times and days. It would be great if there were a webpage somewhere that various churches could use to promote their special activities and teens could go to look to see what they can do in their free time.

I think it is very important for youth to be able to hang out somewhere in a safe environment where they are accepted for being themselves without having to shine above everyone else. Somewhere that they can make good friends with role models who are not parents or teachers. Even for kids who do not normally attend church services, there needs to be a place where they can feel free to be whoever they are without the challenge of havaing to perform.


8 people like this
Posted by MPPC Staff Member
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 15, 2015 at 3:31 pm

Dear Paly Parent,

Thank you for your comment. All of us at MPPC are excited to host this conference and address the important topics related to adolescent mental health. MPPC offers a variety of programs for youth. All welcome:

- High School programs in Menlo Park (and others in Mountain View, San Mateo and San Jose) on Sunday mornings, Sunday afternoons, weekly small groups and special trips and events. Visit
Web Link for more information.

- Middle School programs on Sunday mornings and Wednesday afternoons in Menlo Park (and others in Mountain View, San Mateo, and San Jose.). Visit: www.mppc.org/campuses/menlo-park/connect/middle-school and summer camps and special events and trips

- Active children's programs at all locations including special needs and new Children and Family pastor, Gary Lindsay starting soon. Visit
Web Link


7 people like this
Posted by GraceBrown
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 15, 2015 at 4:00 pm

GraceBrown is a registered user.

@Still hopeful

Please refrain from the using phrase "drinking the koolaid." That casual reference to such a tragedy does not belong in this discussion.

Thank you,

Grace


6 people like this
Posted by Still Hopeful
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Feb 15, 2015 at 10:18 pm

Dear GraceBrown,

The phrase is now for better or worse a common figure of speech in the English language, that I used in a serious way in regards to circumstances that have significant implications to our children's education, futures, and safety, not in any way a remotely casual way.

I nevertheless apologize for any offense it may have caused you. I will refrain from using it again if you can please furnish me an equivalent phrase for what is happening in the district office, where our new Superintendent is working so closely with and so heavily influenced by a few slick people whose incompetence, scheming, and untrustworthy behavior have caused real harm to children and families, with no accountability whatsoever.


Like this comment
Posted by Still hopeful
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Feb 16, 2015 at 6:42 am

... and he seems to be more and more under their influence.


5 people like this
Posted by Still Hopeful
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Feb 16, 2015 at 6:53 am

"We're asking youth to share their thoughts on the subject of youth well-being: how they perceive their lives, what they would like, what would make them feel better, more included, and more valued across the domains of school, home, and community," the event description reads. "We are asking adults to actively listen to what our children have to say."

And for kids who have lived with hurts or been bullied or treated in an untrustworthy way by adults in schools, how likely is it they will go speak in the public like this, when they've been humored at best and haven't been listened to any time they've tried to speak out before?

While I appreciate the sentiment, I frankly think it would be far more helpful to create a trusted way for all kids to reach out and know their voices will be heard and their concerns acted on as part of operating the schools. Otherwise, this just comes across as the schools using a few of the kids who aren't having problems or don't have good relationships with their own parents as a way of deflecting blame again.


2 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 16, 2015 at 8:53 am

Thank you MPPC staff member

Thank you for reaching out to our youth. I think you and others are part of the solution. Do you have any information about other churches or youth organizations such as Young Life? Is there any way we can get a youth activities section in the Weekly or City web page that will have all the different options in one place?


11 people like this
Posted by PA Youth Forum 2015
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2015 at 2:14 pm

@hopeful.

This forum is not organized by the district, so your comment about this being a few well-adjusted kids being used by the district is inaccurate. The forum is being organized and sponsored by a broad range of community groups. The students participating in the panel are all chosen for diversity of experience and background. This includes all kinds of kids, across all demographic groups. It includes kids from Paly, and Gunn, male and female, white, Asian, Latino, and Black, from East Palo Alto as well as Palo Alto, and across gender and sexual identity, athletes and mathletes. An effort was made also to include all grade levels. This is intended to be very inclusive. Please do not talk about what you don't know about.

Then there is also a youth open-mike speaker portion of the event for ANY youth to speak on any topic.

We hope all parents, leaders, students, and community members will come and participate.


6 people like this
Posted by Still hopeful
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2015 at 4:23 pm

PA Youth Forum,
Speaking from personal experience, belong to groups that were invited to participate -- you ever heard the phrase, burned once, twice shy? (Or try many, many times, and traumatized...)

I wanted to believe these would be helpful and expressed fear and pain from past experience (especially with certain people) that your effort would ostensibly exist to try to help with. Your attitude in your post speaks exactly to the problem here. We and others have had a bad experience, and speaking honestly from that, your response to me is to tell me I don't know what I'm talking about and otherwise make me feel unwelcome.

I hope you have your kumbaya moment and it makes you feel like you did something. Doing the hard work with people who would be afraid to speak in a public forum and then doing more than letting it go out the other ear, being willing to sit with people who are angry because they've been hurt, being willing to help kids whose trust is in tatters because of adults in our district who have behaved as badly as any teen bullies -- at least for the kids I know, that would help. Going to a public forum when they've been repeatedly ignored or even retaliated against in the district would be the last thing.

But, thanks for confirming my fear of responding/joining or speaking up when the call went out to groups to which we belong. I am yet a little less hopeful than before you did.


7 people like this
Posted by Marc Vincenti
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 16, 2015 at 4:26 pm

Dear Palo Alto Onliners,

It's heartening to see so many people wanting to help the kids I worked with for so many years; I'm glad these forums will take place; and many thanks to the Weekly for getting the word out.

In the hope of helping our beloved high school in a time of crisis, Gunn sophomore Martha Cabot and myself—feeling that to do nothing is not an option—have launched a community initiative, called "Save the 2,008," to bring a happier, healthier life to the 2,008 students and teachers at Gunn.

Were at: www.savethe2008.com and at: www.facebook.com/savethe2008

Our efforts aren't to tear down, but to build. Anything that humans make (including our campaign!) can always be made better, and so our initiative—far from wanting to bring a wrecking ball or high explosives to a hallowed school—is coming only with saws and hammers and ideas for some simple renovations: six practical changes to the school’s daily life.

Our six proposals are to: shrink classes to a friendlier size, moderate the amounts of homework, foster wise decisions about course loads, quiet the all-day distraction of cellphones, slow the bombardment of grade-reports so our kids have room to ride out the ups and downs of teenage life, and end the demoralizing impact of cheating—so that the students and teachers of Gunn can grow and breathe and learn and thrive.

Please join us! And we'll all see better days!

Sincerely,
Marc Vincenti
Gunn English Dept. (1995-2010)
Co-founder, "Save the 2,008"


6 people like this
Posted by We did this in 2010
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2015 at 6:57 pm

We did this with Kevin Skelly five years ago. His leadership and response to the suicides then were ineffective then, and having Charles Young, associate superintendent, attend or participate in this go around is confusing, at best. I am trying to figure out if Max McGee is having Young attend to have him perform on his own, or another reason. Young has two more years on his contract, thanks to the previous board.


Like this comment
Posted by GraceBrown
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 16, 2015 at 7:04 pm

GraceBrown is a registered user.

@PA Youth Forum 2015 @Still hopefull

Listening to our kids is a good thing, day in....day out - are you certain that neither of you has appropriated our collective tragedy for your own purposes?

I want to trust your intentions. Our most human response to tragedy is often.... to do something, hence the impulse to bring a meal to a grieving friend.

Let us proceed slowly and with mindful consideration.

Grace


4 people like this
Posted by Still hopeful
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Feb 16, 2015 at 7:56 pm

GraceBrown,
My own purposes are safety and education for the kids, including my own. We've had a horrible, nightmarish, stressful experience with this district the last several years, and it's seriously impacted our whole family's health and wellbeing. So I guess you have both answered my question -- these forums really aren't for people like us, they're only for some idealized copacetic children and families who just somehow don't realize everything will be alright if they just say a few things at a public forum. Or worse, they're for people who are willing to go along with the district saying they are perfect and it's the kids and their families who are screwed up and just need to hear a few kids (who don't otherwise have such problems) tell them so.

You disagree with me? Why not prove it? Our district's supposed emotional support system is filled with people who are no more supportive or able to overlook their egos or petty irritations or slights than you have here. There's no help to be had for years of nightmarish treatment, no help to be had after tragedies, only people like you who have to hold up the score card and tell us how we don't merit help because our expression of anger or disappointment or stress or emotion don't rate.

Are you sure you aren't hijacking this conversation for YOUR own purposes?


2 people like this
Posted by Still hopeful
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Feb 16, 2015 at 8:00 pm

PA and Brown,
Trust cannot be manufactured or conjured up in a day. Are you offering anything, much less hope, that is trustworthy? I want to believe so. Your posts have only made it harder to trust these efforts.


4 people like this
Posted by Susy
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 16, 2015 at 9:17 pm

THIS IS THE VIDEO
made by the student who killed himself. This MUST NOT BE CENSORED. He wanted us to see this:

Web Link

It shows the frantic pace, the empty values, the expectation of making a billion. The pressure.


6 people like this
Posted by We did this in 2010
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2015 at 6:57 am

That video and the memorial video are far more important than the years of school board cheerleading, the Kevin Skelly handwringing, or Charles Young's attendance at this event. That video reminds us that our purpose is our children, and when we as a community, or school district, lose one, we have failed. I am pretty close to concluding that Max McGee is Skelly with 10 more years experience, based on his reaction to this emergency.


2 people like this
Posted by Jon
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 17, 2015 at 1:37 pm

listen to NPR Web Link Teenagers need about nine hours of sleep, according to sleep experts. But a recent study finds that up to one third of adolescents don't regularly get even seven hours of sleep at night, which can impact their physical and mental health. We'll discuss the study and the sleep needs of our teens.


5 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 17, 2015 at 3:54 pm

Marc Vincenti:
I join you, Thank you for getting your hands down to really work on changing the current situation for the better. Lets join you, all of us, to build a better school district and education culture, based on different values! Cooperation Vr Competition!! There are still many children, our children,who either are already in high school or who will grow up to go to Gunn or Paly, and we want to prepare better for them. Lets build a better society, the one we want for our future generations, the one that we could not build for ourselves. There is still hope, and let the tragedies teach us new directions. Thank you for taking charge! I join you.Lets go to the community meetings prepared to propose and to hear others proposals, for the society we want to be.


7 people like this
Posted by David P
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 17, 2015 at 3:57 pm

All i can say is that every life is precious and it is a tragedy when a student or child feels that he or she has no options but to take their own life. Life is not easy for adults, so the students need all the help they can get, whether be from a parent, teacher, friend, classmate, teammate, counselor or youth pastor. I truly wish that all students could find success and achieve all their dreams, but most of all i pray that they could discover their personal gift or talent and then ask God to help them use it to help others as well as gaining wealth or fame.
Life is short. School and work need to be challenging, but students need to have fun too and be able to relax once in a while. This is not a perfect world, so there is no perfect solution. But i pray also that not one more student will come to the point of despair without knowing that others care about them and are ready to help. I know God cares about each child and He is always ready to help, both children and adults.


4 people like this
Posted by Deep throat
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2015 at 5:37 pm

It's still not too late for district people who know to come clean.


13 people like this
Posted by The Flaw InThePlan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 18, 2015 at 11:30 am

While I think these forums are helpful to share experience, there is one teeny-tiny flaw in the thinking:



There is retaliation in the school.




It is a fundamental problem upon which all other problems cannot overcome.

It is the first among problems.

You see, when there is retaliation in the school, students acquire a learned-response NOT to speak out. They learn that compliance is better than problem solving. They learn to internalize issues rather than seek help. They learn NOT to advocate for themselves. They learn there is no way out of their problems. Of course this is dangerous.

You have a problem with math - "go talk to your teacher". Oh. Your teacher recommends you move down a lane. Don't want to do that again.

You have a problem with science - "go talk to your teacher". Oh. She made your life miserable and dinged your grades for the rest of the semester. Don't want to do that again.

You have a problem with your 504 - "go talk to your teacher". Oh. They decided not only to disregard your plan, but to actually make your life more hellish.

[Portion removed.]

You see, we have a system that uses retaliation against students who speak out about their problems. This system resists change through oppression, retaliation and humiliation.


When you view the district in this light, you see everything makes sense.

Why don't kids seek help? Oh. They learned this.
Why don't kids speak out about their problems? Oh. They learned this.
Why don't kids tell the teacher when there is too much homework? Oh...
Why don't kids ...

Well, because the school has taught them otherwise.


If you want change, the FIRST thing that must change is to create an environment where it is safe for kids to speak out. Without fear of retaliation. Where kids know that any retaliation is going to be met with such fierce punishment that no employee would every even CONSIDER retaliation. Where there is such a fear of mistreating kids that no ADULT in the district would even breath such thoughts, or even risk any action that even appeared to even vaguely look like retaliation.

[Portion removed.]

Then you might slowly see the students step forward to share their stories. To see the problems.

Then you see the problems, you can solve the problems.

Until that day, not much else is going to happen.

That is why we need leadership. To give the kids courage. To end retaliation, and end the toxic environment that exists here.


9 people like this
Posted by still hopeful
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2015 at 11:50 am

The Flaw InthePlan,

You speak for me, too. Why not go to the student newspaper at Paly and talk to some of the students there, under condition of anonymity? They might be interested in the issue. The trouble is that people who are worst affected often leave or are afraid to speak up to anyone for fear of further retaliation.

I think retaliation is just one aspect of a culture at the district office that is not trustworthy. Trust is the big issue, in my opinion. When the district acts consistently in an open and trustworthy way, when it cultivates employees who place a high value on trustworthiness and gets rid of employees who engage in retaliatory and untrustworthy behavior, then it will be possible to give students the confidence that their concerns will be heard when they need help.

Trust can't be built by public events in which one of the least trustworthy and most-prone-to-retaliation among our district employees is advertised as present. It's more likely to create more mistrust among those who most need help and a false sense among those who should be helping.

We need trustworthy avenues of dialog
We need trustworthy employees who do the right thing in the course of making tough decisions

The flaw in the plan comes from an unfortunate ongoing flaw in the personnel surrounding our new administrator.


Like this comment
Posted by @Deep throat and The Flaw InthePlan, from village fool
a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2015 at 9:09 pm

@Deep throat -- Could you kindly elaborate?

@The Flaw InThePlan -- I am sorry I missed your initial post. Your censored comment is very intriguing. Thank you.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of another community

on Feb 18, 2015 at 11:12 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of another community

on Feb 18, 2015 at 11:16 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


2 people like this
Posted by We did this in 2010
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2015 at 12:26 am

Notice in other threads that Max McGee and the board is giving considerable time to the parcel tax and so little time to the multiple suicides of our children. The school board and McGee held an immediate special board meeting to ensure that more money flows. It almost feels like greed, and not student wellness, is what they value.


4 people like this
Posted by D Andrews
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 19, 2015 at 9:32 am

Here’s hoping the wisdom of our youth prevails over the misguided adults in our community who are tripping over themselves in an effort to protect our children. Isn’t it a violation of the First Amendment to dictate to our seniors that they cannot decorate their graduation caps? What’s next in the effort to duck and cover from academic peer pressure? Will we send students home from school if they dare to wear an article of clothing that conveys where they have decided to attend school in the future? Will we censor their social media postings? What is precious about our community is that it embraces all avenues pursued by our youth. We do not frown on students who explore the world over a gap year, or those who attend culinary school or vocational institutions. We take pride in our students who see the value in attending junior college. We have handed them a palette and a brush. Our task is simply to celebrate them for utilizing those tools to find and pursue their passion. Stripping them of First Amendment rights surely sends the wrong message and only ignites angst of a different flavor.


4 people like this
Posted by Response to FlawinthePlan
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2015 at 9:41 am

To add to what “The Flaw in the Plan” has written, I would emphasize that retaliation happens years before high school. It can begin in elementary. But “bad” teachers (there are also “good” teachers) want to keep their jobs, so the retaliation might come in subtle, passive-aggressive tactics meant to humiliate and ultimately silence students and their parents. I don’t believe this happens only to kids who are struggling academically at school. I believe this also happens to kids who are performing extremely well; for this group, some teachers might retaliate in order to keep students “in their place.”

It’s interesting how another recent article, about the achievement gap in PAUSD, suggests taking a closer look at the elementary years as an originating point for a student’s lagging performance. It seems as though the elementary years should also be scrutinized in terms of when a student’s learned helplessness (a kind of mental-health issue) begins to form. By high school, it might be too late to rehabilitate a student’s lack of faith in the sincerity and trustworthiness of the adults at school.


3 people like this
Posted by Questions
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2015 at 12:34 pm

The frantically paced video begins in the morning and shows Harry rushing through routines before school. Then he jumps in the air--disappears for a moment--before he reappears again to land on the grounds of the school.

The first time we hear Harry’s voice, he is asking the question: “What do you like about Gunn High School?” He asks five students this question, and everyone seems to have a jokey response. Then Harry changes the question a bit to “What is cool about Gunn?” One student answers, “I like that we’re such an inclusive community.” This response seems sincere, but there is laughter off to the side.

Harry’s central question is a core question for students (and parents) in this community: “What do you like about […] High School?”

Another question (for us) is embedded in the song Harry chose: “People moving all the time, inside a perfectly straight line, don’t you wanna curve away, when it’s such a perfect day?”

How can we move away from what seems to be the “perfectly straight line” between high school and college and allow for more curves, more flexibility, more satisfaction all along the way?


Like this comment
Posted by still hopeful
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 24, 2015 at 9:44 am

"How can we move away from what seems to be the "perfectly straight line" between high school and college and allow for more curves, more flexibility, more satisfaction all along the way?"

A thousand "likes" to that. It is hard not to notice what an incredibly talented young man he was, even just from that video. Did he feel the program supported his gifts and gave him a way to excel, or did it put him in a position where he was made to constantly feel like he couldn't measure up, because of that narrow "straight line"?


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Posted by still hopeful
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2015 at 9:45 am

Sorry, the system put me in "Atherton", I have no idea why!


3 people like this
Posted by school supporter
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 24, 2015 at 10:15 pm

Wow. I am surprised at the intense negative feelings about our schools and their employees. I thought people paid extra high house prices willingly so that their kids could go to our schools. If our schools are so bad, why stay? My parents moved to Palo Alto precisely for the schools, and they and myself and my siblings were very happy with the schools and teachers. I was bullied in middle school, and I told no one, only because it was my personality to keep things to myself and deal with them myself. I chose not to share those experiences, but if I had reached out to an adult it would have been to a teacher and not my parents. Teachers were very helpful to me. Some teachers stayed after school on their own time to help me learn things that I was having difficulty with. I had one inexperienced teacher that I wasn't impressed with, but everyone else was fine or great. I guarantee that other schools in other districts are not better. I attended schools outside of Palo Alto before we moved to PA, and PA schools were heaven compared to the ones I came from.
Max McGee and all the staff at Gunn are extremely concerned about the suicides and about student's well-being. You can't see all that goes on from the outside. There is a lot going on to support students. So many people have opinions on how the schools should be run, and many of those opinions run counter to each other. The schools are full of people experienced with kids and education. If they have the opportunity to collaborate together to solve problems, great things can happen. But there is no such thing as completely fair. What works for one person doesn't for another. So we all do the best we can, and compared to schools outside of PA, PA schools do pretty darn well.


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Posted by Huh?
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Feb 24, 2015 at 10:38 pm

@What if,

What makes you think Pat Burt would make a good BoE member? Do you know anything about his family life or are you assuming since he's a dad and former Council member, he might as well be on the BoE?


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Posted by Marc Vincenti
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 25, 2015 at 1:21 am

Dear Palo Alto Onliners,

This is an update, for people who may attend, on the meeting "Let's talk: a community conversation."

Last night, it was announced that audience members with questions will not be allowed to voice them.

They must submit them on cards, or text or email them to the stage.

It seems that the moderator, then, will decide which questions will be read aloud.

This was announced at last night's School Board meeting, with the explanation that "we want to hear from as many people as possible, and that's sometimes challenging with an open mike."

Everyone who comes to the meeting will be offered a survey to take, and will be asked to complete a "personal commitment card."

Sincerely,
Marc Vincenti
Co-Founder, "Save the 2,008" (a campaign to bring a happier life to Gunn)
www.savethe2008.com


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 25, 2015 at 7:50 am

"Trust can't be built by public events in which one of the least trustworthy and most-prone-to-retaliation among our district employees is advertised as present. It's more likely to create more mistrust among those who most need help and a false sense among those who should be helping."

Are you talking about Ken Dauber? Because I'm not sure I agree.


2 people like this
Posted by Nick
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 25, 2015 at 3:00 pm

"Wow. I am surprised at the intense negative feelings about our schools and their employees. I thought people paid extra high house prices willingly so that their kids could go to our schools. If our schools are so bad, why stay?"

We are not suprised. Talk to your kids. At Gunn they are all under considerable stress from parents and now from the horrible atmosphere created by these suicides. This is a very very extreme situation. Lets not pretend it isnt. OUr kids are going to school in the middle of a suicide cluster. And we are talking about real estate prices and prestige. This is a psychological extreme. Its not the teachers, who are excellent, but the toxic attitude created by pushy selfish parents.

We are thinking about a transfer to Paly or a move to Redwood City and paying for two years of Menlo. You may think everything is fine but for your kids at Gunn it is not.


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

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