GROUNDED IN EDUCATION ... Like many adult schools in the U.S. born in the early 20th century, the Palo Alto Adult School's core focus was on prepping would-be American citizens for their naturalization test — a federally mandated process that has a hazy history since the early tests were orally conducted. But the school's class schedule gradually morphed to better reflect the educational needs and wants of its local community, such as English as a second language and parent education. "The school isn't just a second chance for many adults who didn't finish high school, or who need to develop a new career," said Kara Rosenberg, the school's former principal, teacher and student. "It expands their minds and gives them the ability to learn lots of different new things." This year, the school celebrates its 100th anniversary amid a pandemic that has pushed learning environments to the virtual world. To celebrate its centennial, the school offered a few free introductory classes last month, according to Principal Dave Hoshiwara. He hopes to have an in-person celebration in the fall when the school anticipates to fully re-welcome students back to campus, barring the county doesn't backtrack its progress in mitigating the threat of COVID-19. "Everything is so different now that we're coming back out of shutdown," Hoshiwara said. "It would just be good to have students back in class."
A FINAL BOW ... Palo Alto has a new vacancy at the executive level of City Hall, with Assistant City Manager Monique le Conge Ziesenhenne departing last month after a decade of public service. Hired as a library director in 2011, Ziesenhenne briefly served as the Community Services Department's interim director in 2018 before getting tapped by City Manager Ed Shikada to serve as his top lieutenant in 2019. A popular presence whose unofficial duties included serving as a timekeeper for City Council members during the Zoom era, Ziesenhenne was honored March 8 with a special proclamation from the very council members whom she'd often had to interrupt during meetings when they exceeded their five-minute limit for comments. The proclamation credits Ziesenhenne with, among other milestones, completing the city's Library Bond Program, which involved renovating local libraries. The council also lauded her for using her "broad operational experience to improve strategic planning and create collaboration and communication within the City, particularly during the management of Citywide programs during the COVID-19 pandemic." In her final words prior to her departure, Ziesenhenne said she is grateful for her time in Palo Alto. "This is the longest I've worked for any jurisdiction and I think it speaks to the community, it speaks to the quality of the staff and the environment that we are able to be a part of," she said.