Community Notebook: Palo Alto alums to speak on success and wellness

Panel event to be held Saturday, Aug. 8

Two Palo Alto Unified School District graduates are hoping to stimulate further community conversation about definitions of success and student wellness with a panel event targeted at local parents.

Several alumni who attended Palo Alto schools will be at the event, 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 8. They will share their experiences and "how their definitions of success have changed after leaving Palo Alto" as part of "Success and Wellness: Life after PAUSD," said Palo Alto High graduate Christina Chen, who is putting together the event with Gunn High School graduate Lydia Huang.

The panel will be followed by discussion in small groups "in which we will dig deeper into our individual and collective visions of success and wellness for our children," Chen wrote in an email. The organizers hope that parents will explore questions like "How do I raise a child that is both successful and healthy in Palo Alto?" and "How do we foster a healthy family and community environment that nurture the growth of our youth?"

Representatives from various groups currently engaged in addressing youth success, wellness and mental health will attend and be available to meet with participants in an optional networking session following the group discussions.

Youth well-being coalition Project Safety Net and Palo Alto University are co-sponsoring the event.

The event is a follow-up to one that Chen and another Paly graduate, Jessica Brooks, organized in June that aimed to connect alumni with others in the community working on these issues. Anyone is welcome to attend, even if they are not affiliated with the Palo Alto school district.

The event will be held at the Mitchell Park Community Center, 3700 Middlefield Road. To RSVP and for more information, go to the event's Facebook page.

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12 people like this
Posted by Perspective
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 29, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Wow, I appreciate the alumni in our community trying to make a difference!

One issue I think doesn't get enough (or any) attention, is that all students aren't equal in their individual hurdles or access to help. Our district administration still seems to value appearances over substance, so those who fall through the cracks are (depending on who they are or if they ever crossed anyone in the district office) more likely to experience pressure to be swept out of sight (or to leave) rather than get help. We still have an administration that doesn't seem to understand that this is a PUBLIC school district and that problems need to be dealt with and solved rather than covered up or pushed out. Experiencing difficulties emotionally doesn't usually happen in isolation, yet district response to this seems just like in other areas of vulnerable students: some "deserve" help and others (usually those with more problems or less likeable) get the shaft or worse.

The response of staff in our experience can actually amplify or even create enormous stress and disconnection, especially if they've put a student (or their family) in the "other" category. All this talk is good, but it's not going to help the most vulnerable unless people who wish to help are willing to really roll up their sleeves and advocate on the ground when s%^*( happens and kids/families are vulnerable and need someone on their side.

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Posted by fcservices
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 29, 2015 at 1:31 pm

We are delighted to see the conversations about student wellness continuing, and we will be sure to share information with local parents we serve.

We echo "Perspective" in the shout-out of appreciation to compassionate alums.

2 people like this
Posted by Sarah1000
a resident of Los Altos
on Jul 29, 2015 at 1:40 pm

So awesome that the conversation about mental health is continuing! Thanks to Christina and Lydia for creating this event.

1 person likes this
Posted by Marc Vincenti
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 29, 2015 at 6:51 pm

Wow, BRAVA to Ms. Chen and Ms. Huang who, even after having graduated to their college lives, are reaching back into the community to make a difference. The perspective of students are maturely reflecting on their days at Gunn or Paly can be invaluable.

Offering help with the same troubling issues is Save the 2,008, a community campaign, open to everyone, to protect our kids from stress and depression by offering them high schools that are free of the toxicities of overwork, sleep-deprivation, cheating, overcrowding, distraction, and alienation.

Let's bring to our schools the fresh air of hope.



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

1 person likes this
Posted by Christina
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 29, 2015 at 8:52 pm

Hello, this is Christina, co-organizer of this event. Thanks for the support everyone!

Perspective, I am interested in what the issues that you brought up, namely the ones of of unequal access to help and insufficient school district response to crises. I would like to understand this more so we may address it in our upcoming event or future dialogue. If you'd like, please email me at

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Posted by Perspective
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 31, 2015 at 6:10 pm

Hi Christina,

Thanks for reaching out -- I can't have a conversation about this for a few weeks, but will contact you then and try to provide as much info as I can. In the meantime, Bill Johnson at the Weekly has heard from many in the community and might be a good resource if you want to understand inequities.

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

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