Wendy Stratton recalled seeing that the old sign was already broken when she took over as the principal at Gunn in the fall of 2020. Getting a replacement turned out to be a lengthy endeavor, with funding questions, bureaucratic delays and pandemic supply chain issues impacting the process.
Stratton joined teachers, staff, administrators, Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) members and a student on Tuesday, Jan. 10, to formally cut the ribbon on the new marquee.
With Gunn less visible from the road than schools like Palo Alto High, Stratton said she views the marquee as particularly impactful in allowing the community to learn more about events occurring on the campus.
"The marquee for me represents a doorway to the rest of the world to see what's happening at this amazing school," Stratton told the Weekly.
Funding the marquee's installation was a collaborative effort. The graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 donated about $14,000, with the PTSA contributing an additional $7,000. The school picked up the rest of the roughly $29,000 tab. The school district then paid the nearly $10,000 cost to remove the old sign and install the new one.
The fact that the two graduating classes most impacted by the pandemic came together to fund the sign was meaningful to Kimberly Eng Lee, who led Gunn's PTSA in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years.
"It was particularly poignant because they actually didn't have a graduation that year at all," Lee said of the class of 2020. "They didn't walk. They didn't have any ceremony whatsoever."
There is interest in adding signage indicating the contributions of the two graduating classes, Lee said.
Junior Smriti Kallahalla, whose mom is on the PTSA, volunteered to cut the ribbon with Stratton and told the Weekly that she thinks the marquee will increase school pride and help people be more aware of what's going on at the campus.
"I think it's really cool," Kallahalla said. "I think it adds to the Titan spirit."