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Gunn community gathers to honor classmate

Original post made on May 9, 2009

Chairs had to be stacked against the walls to make room for a tight, standing-room-only crowd at a celebration of the life of 17-year-old Jean-Paul "JP" Blanchard, who died Tuesday at the CalTrain tracks. The gathering was Saturday at Mitchell Park Community Center.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, May 9, 2009, 5:04 PM

Comments (42)

Posted by Depressed Person
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 9, 2009 at 5:32 pm

If I suicided, nobody would care. I know that for a fact.

Posted by Caring Family
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 9, 2009 at 5:34 pm

Hopefully through this beautiful human expression of love, friendship, remembrance and compassion, students will remember to keep expressing themselves through life. Please don't bottle things up inside. Find someone to talk to about things, family, relatives, friends, teachers, staff, anyone who you can trust to have your wellbeing at heart. It's so important for your health and happiness to open up, and express yourselves. Emotions are there for a reason, and the best thing you can do, is to express them, in a way that allows you to share who you are, but also does not bring harm to yourself or others. There are people who will listen to you, and who care about you.

Posted by Caring Family
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 9, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Dear Depressed Person,
There are many people who care about you, more than you believe. Please reach out to people, and share more of yourself, with them. Maybe through volunteering at the local YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, YCS at Gunn, or similar organization, you can connect with other caring people, who then can have the chance to get to know you. JP may have also temporarily thought the same way as you, that no one cared for him. In the everyday busy life of people, sometimes we don't take enough time to hug and show concern and love, for those around us, but it does not mean that we don't care about people. The best way to receive love, is to give love (friendship,volunteering to help others,time with family and friends,being part of your community even in a small way) Please share more of yourself with your school and city community. Everyone has special gifts to share. I don't yet know you, but somehow I think that I would like and care about you. :-) Take good care out there, we do care about you.

Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 9, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Depressed Person,

As Caring Family says

"There are people who will listen to you, and who care about you."

you're part of a community that wants to reach out to you,

I hope you are letting your school know,

Posted by A caring mom
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 9, 2009 at 5:52 pm

Depressed person,

You may not be able to see it now, but so many people do care about you. Believe me, I've been there. You will soon realize that there are so many things to live for!!! Please take advantage of the resources that are here for YOU:

Adolescent Counseling Services 650/424-0852
Teen Line/Crisis Intervention/Counseling 800/852-8336
24/7 Line for Youth 888/247-7717
Center for Living with Dying 408/243-0222
Kara-Grief Support for Children and Adults 650/321-5272
Teen Clinic (Lucile Packard Children's Hospital) 650/694-0600

Posted by Depressed Person
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 9, 2009 at 6:01 pm

No, I mean it. 80% of everybody at my school has never heard of my name. My family takes no part in the school community. Its like I dont even exist.

My parents screwed me over by making me go to Gunn. All my friends went to Paly and I tried meeting new people at Gunn, and people hated me.

This is a terrible experience no one should go through.

College will be better.

Posted by A caring mom
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 9, 2009 at 6:12 pm

Depressed person,

You may feel alone, but please know that many students experience great loneliness and a terrible experience in high school.

For every one of these kids, and I've known a lot of them, college was so much better! So you have something to look forward to. Meantime, try to reach out to people at Gunn, keep in touch with your friends at Paly and use all the resources that are there for you. People really do care.

Posted by Caring Family
a resident of Barron Park
on May 9, 2009 at 6:12 pm

Dear Depressed Person,
It is good to hear that you are looking forward to college! In the meantime, though, I have two kid's at Gunn (boys). One of them is my nephew who came to live with us in December, '08. Luckily he had gone to Terman when he was younger, for awhile, (now he's a senior) so he knew some students from that time, and was able to reconnect. We have alot of students visit our home, and you are more than welcome to join in anytime, well at least before 10pm. ;-) I have several email addresses, and this is one of them: Take good care. It sounds like it's been a rough time for you, but you are hanging in there, and that is great! :-)

Posted by A mom's plea
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 9, 2009 at 6:45 pm

Dear Depressed person,

Friends and joy is is upto us to see it and realize their special place in life. I would urge you to talk to someone, so that you can not only share your perspective, but also listen to theirs. I would recommend that you pick someone you feel close to, and share your will find out that there are so many people that you can help, just by listening to them and then also pour your heart out to them. This way we will be a supportive community and help each other with our frustrations. I hope that we all will learn the lesson of compassion and caring from this terrible tragedy and seek help.

Posted by Kay
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 9, 2009 at 7:30 pm

If you need to talk to someone even if just to talk my grandmother is a counselor who works with teens and upon telling her about your post on here, she said she would happily talk to you if you need someone. Please let me know if you need anything and just know people do love and care about you. We all go through tough times and being a teenager isn't easy, but I can tell you that college does get better and there will always be happy times too.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 9, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Depressed Person,

I'd care.

Posted by Kim Cowell, Assistant Principal, Guidance Dept.
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 9, 2009 at 8:21 pm

Dear Depressed Person,
Please come see me in the Guidance Office on Monday. Let's see what we can do to make high school a better experience for you. Tell Mrs. Francesconi or Mr. Lang to come get me if I'm not in my office. I'll let them know you're coming.

Ms. Cowell

Posted by I care
a resident of Mountain View
on May 9, 2009 at 8:26 pm

High school will fly by, and before you know it, you will be in college with thousands of people waiting to know you. You won't even remember high school anymore. Just hold on, it gets much better.

Posted by Probably most of us have been close to this point ...
a resident of Midtown
on May 9, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Ms. Cowell means it..Go see her. I wish I had 1/10th the support she will give you.

Everyone always said "these are the best years of your life" when I was a teen, and I always thought "Oh my God, if this is the best there is, forget it!!"

No, these really aren't the best years of your life, no matter how good your friends or family are. They get better sometime in college, and by the time I was done with college and finally on with my profession, building the life I wanted instead of the one I had been got tons better.

So, hang in there, it has been 35 years or so since I felt like you ( I was 16 at the time and thought my life was over and nobody cared), and every single year has been better than that year, even in my worst years! The difference is time, age, maturity, growing control over your life, and a growing commitment to whatever it is that you will develop a passion to do..whatever it is that is your "gift" to develop.

Go see her.

Posted by Wanting the best for You
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2009 at 10:58 pm

Dear DP,

Please know that even though your parents might not take part in the school community, there are other parents who would love to support you in whatever you set out to do. When my son was in high school, he had a friend who was on the football team, and his parents never showed up for anything. No football games, no back to school night; they wouldn't even pick him up or take him to practice...but you know what...I was happy to do it. Glad to do it!

I was at every game, cheering him, my son, and the rest of the team on. There were tons of parents in the stands cheering all the kids on. Today he plays for the Oakland Raiders.

He never let on that it bothered him that no one in his family was around in high school to see him make that great catch, or score the winning touch down. But you know thing he did know was that there were other parents who loved him just like their own son.

Please listen to what the parents on here are saying to you. They really do care, just like I cared for my sons friend, being there for him, rooting him on, encouraging him. And now, he is a Star.

This is the perfect time for you to reach out. Do it today! You'll be glad you did.

Posted by Oh
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 9, 2009 at 11:07 pm

I miss JP so much.
I still think I'll be able to talk to him tomorrow.
Always tomorrow.
We'll talk tomorrow.

Posted by Parent of a Gunn student
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 10, 2009 at 12:58 am

Dear Depressed Person

I was once a depressed person at a high school much like Gunn (in another state). I too felt no one would care if I disappeared or died. Thankfully, I managed to survive and find out that it's not true, and life really holds so much good in store, though I simply could not see that at all when I was depressed. Depression is an "evil demon" illness that tells us lies about ourselves and how others see us, and it's so hard not to believe those lies, but they are NOT TRUE.

I didn't know JP, but I cried when he died, and I'd cry for any one of you precious young people - you are the future, and you are all to be cherished. It breaks my heart to read what you have to say, and to lose you would be a terrible loss. Please DO go see Ms. Cowell, we really DO care about you. :(


Posted by Alex
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 10, 2009 at 10:28 pm

JP I miss you so much. I don't know what I'm going to do without you, I still can't stand the fact that you're gone. No more listening to metallica together or playing video games for hours, you have left a hole in my heart and I don't know if I can go on.

I will always remember your smile and sound of your laughter. I hope that one day I will see you again. You are forever with me, in my heart, mind and soul.

Posted by Aussie
a resident of another community
on May 10, 2009 at 10:46 pm

Hang in there mate. This is a rough time you're going through, but it will get better. Try to get as much time walking in the sunshine as you can; it helps a lot when you have lost someone you care about.

Posted by doug
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 10, 2009 at 10:53 pm

Alex, please do go on. JP's memorials Saturday were hugely moving, but obviously we would all greatly prefer they didn't have to happen. I don't want to have to go to any more. The lesson I take from JP's death and memorials is that life is precious.

The loss of JP will never go away but the hole in your heart will heal.

Posted by Depressed Person
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 10, 2009 at 11:08 pm


We are all going to miss JP and all that he had to offer. However, life must continue. Tragedies like this are always hard to deal with, and can be very hard on everyone. Refer to your close friends or ACS for comfort if you feel so depressed that you cannot continue life. There are people who will always care for you and support you, please know that.

JP wouldnt have wanted you to felt so hopeless. He probably wants us all to go on, be happy and live out a successful life.

Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 10, 2009 at 11:12 pm

Depressed Person, Alex and others,
There is help available. Please find someone you can talk to. Going to see Kim Cowell in the guidance office at Gunn is a great place to start. You can also talk to one of your teachers, a parent of a friend, or a clergy person. A poster above going by the name of Caring Family even provided an email address where they can be reached.

Also, the district has sent out the following resources:
Adolescent Counseling Services 650/424-0852
Center for Living with Dying 408/243-0222
Kara-Grief Support for Children and Adults 650/321-5272
Teen Clinic (Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital) 650/694-0600
Teen Line/Crisis Intervention/Counseling 800/852-8336
24/7 Line for Youth 888/247-7717

You have gone through a terrible ordeal this week, and I'm sure it seems as if you will always feel so awful about it, but time does heal and meanwhile there are people willing and ready to help you work through your feelings.

Please continue to post and let us know how you are doing.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 11, 2009 at 1:54 am


What you're going through is terrible, but please hang in there. Time will make a difference and there is so much ahead of you. I know that sounds trite, but when I look back I see some bad times, but all in all I'm so grateful to have experienced my life--to have gone to college, traveled, met people, fallen in love, married, had kids. It's all been deeply worth it.

All that's in front of you. Keep going. Grief hurts like hell, but it does recede.

Posted by Some who cares
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 11, 2009 at 9:22 am

I did not know JP but I was sad when I heard the news and am still sad. I cried and still cry, thinking about him,all his family and friends. I went for the memorial service. He is(it is hard to use past tense!) so cute, a beautiful life just gone! just gone! I saw so many kids crying a lot. I wanted to hug them. I did not know them and did not know if it was appropriate to hug them so I prayed for them to find comfort. I wanted to see what the Palo Alto weekly had to say about the memorial service. I am sad to see that someone is thinking of suicide. Please remember you are special and not alone. Below is the closing prayer that was read at JP's private memorial service. It is so beautiful.
Closing Prayer:

Life must go on.... a Navajo Prayer

Grieve for me, for I would grieve for you.
Then brush away the sorrow and the tears
Life is not over, but begins anew,
with courage you must greet the coming years.
To live forever in the past is wrong;
can only cause you misery and pain.
Dwell not on memories over long,
with others you must share and care again.
Reach out and comfort those who comfort you;
recall the years,but only for a while.
Nurse not your loneliness;but live again.
Forget not.Remember with a smile.

Posted by Family Member
a resident of Los Altos
on May 11, 2009 at 12:36 pm

To all the Palo Alto community and beyond, friends, parents, teachers and family. The Blanchard Family has been tremendously overwhelmed by the support everyone has expressed. We wish to offer our thanks at this difficult moment, but would also appreciate it if anyone has any more memories to share. The Blanchard Family has created an e-mail account that we would welcome any fond memories to be sent to:

In addition, as many have known, JP loved animals and we have requested that donations in lieu of flowers be made to the:

Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA
12 Airport Blvd
San Mateo, CA 94401
650 340-7022

Link to download donation form:
Web Link

In Memory of: Jean-Paul Blanchard
On the Occasion of: The Celebration of His Life
Send acknowledgement to: The Blanchard Family 3308 Emerson St., Palo Alto, CA 94306

We are blessed to be living in such a caring community. Thank you.

Posted by Family Member
a resident of Midtown
on May 11, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Dear loving friends of JP and caring community members ~

Thank you so much for your heartfelt thoughts and prayers for beautiful JP. I would like to share two other poems that were selected in his memory by his parents. Please read them and keep him in your thoughts.

When tomorrow starts without me and I am not there to see,
If the sun should rise and find your eyes are filled with tears for me,
I wish so much you wouldn't cry, the way you did today,
While thinking of the many things we didn't get to say.

I know how much you loved me, as much as I loved you.
And each time you think of me I know you'll miss me too...

When tomorrow starts without me, don't think we're far apart,
For everytime you think of me, I'm right there in your heart.

MEMORY OF ME by Carol Mirkel
I'd like the memory of me
To be a happy one.
I'd like to leave an afterglow
Of smiles when life is done.

I'd like the tears
Of those who grieve,
To dry before the sun
Of happy memories that I leave
When life is done.

Posted by DB
a resident of Greene Middle School
on May 11, 2009 at 6:12 pm

Depressed person,
as you can see on here there are people that would care if you did that. And even though you feel as though none of your friends would care, your family would very much care and those are the people that you need to worry about. In a few weeks/months JP's passing will be "old news" to his friends ( not being mean at all ) but to his family it will be with them forever, his birthday, holidays, dates of past events, the day he died etc. Think of his poor mom I bet she had a real crappy mothers day in fact yesterday when i was at that light and the train came by immediately thought about his mom.
You know friends come and go in a short time you will be married and have kids of your own ... enjoy YOUR life and what YOU like to do .... dont let your friends or lack of friends change the person you are or want to become. If people cant accept you for the person you are then its their loss.
do something that you love and makes you happy. The more you dwell on it the more harsher its going to seem.

Posted by PA-Has-Big-Problems
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 11, 2009 at 10:41 pm

My name's Chris and I grew up and live in Palo Alto; I think it'd be a great thing for people to speak honestly on this article rather than be nicey-nicey all the time. Palo Alto didn't used to be so shallow.

[To be clear, my comments have zero to do with the specifics of JP's suicide; I don't know him, I don't know his life, his family, his friends, none of it. My comments, rather, are directed at the community in which such high levels of stress, self-loathing and sadness are allowed to exist.]

Kids (including Depressed Person), here's the truth of many a child's situation in Palo Alto:

1. Your parents often work too much in order to be able to afford living in Palo Alto. Palo Alto real estate costs too much, and we all aspire to the nice house, good cars, all that rubbish. Your parents need to get their priorities straight and realize that *you* are *the* *most* *beautiful, wondrous thing* *they'll* *ever* *know*. In my not all at politically correct view, both parents should not work full time - that is a selfish thing for the parents to do and IMO creates a horrible void in childrens' lives. Parents, give up the rat race and commit yourselves to being parents.

2. Please, oh God, please don't be fooled into thinking that the grades you get, the AP points you score, the college you get into and the major you major in will have diddly squat to do with how your life unfurls, because it won't. Understand that what will make you successful in life is the basics - learning to enjoy reading, learning the rapture of the well-written paragraph, empathy for others, etc etc. Learn those things, learn how to have fun, learn fascinating history and you'll be juuuuuust fine.

3. If your classmates don't know you exist or appreciate you, resolve yourself to find people who *are* willing to acknowledge and appreciate you. Join the Boy Scouts, that's a great organization through which it's virtually impossible to pass without making many long-term friends. Join a club in your high school. Volunteer helping worthy causes; this may sound trite, but there is no better way to get the love that we all seek by *giving love* in the first place. Try it, my friend, and you'll have that community that knows and appreciates you as sure as day follows night.

4. Gunn staff & parents: I can't help but feel that many of the problems we have here are due to staff & parents putting unreasonable expectations on our youth. It's simply not possible for test scores, GPAs, student citizenship and extracurricular performance to improve forever and to infinity. I'm gonna make damn sure that my kids know that their youth is there for their enjoyment first & foremost. Stop the pressure cooker atmosphere, parents and staff, that we in this community *all* hear so much of, stop it I say! Screw it kids, and just try to learn a bit about as many different aspects of life as you can, leave academic specialization for much later and find things you LOOOOOOOOOOOVE to do and which challenge your body and mind, and fill your time in the pursuit of those endeavors.

Youth of Palo Alto, if there's one thing I really want to stick my neck out and say, it's that you are *heroes* for living life in this pressure cooker of a town, this screwed up technology-laden dork-fest of a town, this incredibly hypocritical town whose citizens preach environmental consciousness from 3000ft2 houses. Things were wayyy simpler when I grew up here and I have no idea how I would've made it today. Know that for the most part the life we're all asking you to live is not normal, the goals are not normal, the societal norms are not normal, and you, by contrast, are what's right with this place.

Posted by chrissy
a resident of College Terrace
on May 12, 2009 at 12:35 am

JP come BACK we need you here why didnt you see that BEFORE?!

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 12, 2009 at 1:03 am


It's the nature of severe depression--one's world get smaller and problems seem bigger and more insurmountable. The depression itself distorts thinking--during a severe depression part of the pain is thinking that the pain and the depression will never end. When someone's in a suicidal state they're alienated--on some level not connecting emotionally.

Someone in a severe depression can be surrounded by family and friends, but still feel completely isolated. And they fail to connect in terms of empathy--suicide is cruel, I think as cruel as any death can be for the people left behind.

And yet a suicidal person will convince him or herself that people will be better off without them. Mothers will say "my kids will be better off without me."

It's terrible distorted thinking underpinned by the bleakness of depression.

Posted by Helping each other
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 12, 2009 at 10:35 am

For those who feel sad…..

1 Start making a note of the number of days you feel sad. If you see that you feel sad many times in the month then you should seek help.
2. When you are sad, call someone, any one ….TALK .TALK and talk your way out of the darkness, out of the hole. Others can get your mind to think of other things. Never be alone with those negative thoughts. If you think you have taken up too much of one person’s time, hang up and call someone else. Keep doing this till you feel better. You will be amazed how it works. You don’t necessarily have to talk about your problem (if you can, then most certainly do).You can even go over to the neighbors and say I don’t want to be alone right now, so can I hang out here for a while. I am sure they will not mind. May be you can learn a thing or two from them or you can teach them a thing or two!
3. If you feel sad some times and if you wonder what is my purpose in life, why should I keep on living then you must know that there is someone out there that needs you badly. May be you have not met that person yet but you will. Also if you think no one cares then you must remember that each time you do some thing nice to someone, that person will never forget you and that person will care if something bad happened to you. If you have helped someone laugh or wiped away someone’s tears you have helped that person in a bigger way than you can imagine. That is already a very important thing you have done. You do not have to be the president of the U.S to be important and successful.
4. This last one is for my dear Gunn and Paly kids. How many of us care or remember which college any great person came from. You will get in a college and you will be just fine. Just do your best, use your time well and that’s all.

If I have helped just one person with this, I have been successful. Thank you for reading!

Posted by pa native
a resident of Midtown
on May 12, 2009 at 11:45 am

this is tragic. it is sad our high schoolers must come accustom to dealing with these type of traumatic events in their lives. BTW PA Weekly, you are mistakenly referring to Camp Anytown as Camp Everytown.

Posted by Chris, Weekly staff writer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 12, 2009 at 12:09 pm

pa native,

The name was changed from Camp Anytown to Camp Everytown a few years ago.

Posted by Person
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 12, 2009 at 2:31 pm

Ow there's this feeling inside of me. It feels like sadness, pain, hopelessness and grief. I used to get this feeling after failing Trg/AnltH tests(That class is over 9000, in terms of difficulty)but now I have that same feeling but its the worst its ever been.

Posted by touched
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 12, 2009 at 4:49 pm

I realized that I am friends with JP's little sister on facebook today. When I clicked onto her page, I was touched to see the hundreds of wall posts she received every day promising her support and best wishes. After reading this article, the way the Palo Alto community has come together to support someone who many did not even know, and in the process support each other through the grieving and the hard times has really inspired me. I am proud of the community I live in, and I know that every person who has had something encouraging and caring to say must be helping the Blanchard family one step at a time. My best wishes go to the family, my heart aches for them all, but I know that they will be strong and pull through.

Thank you for inspiring me in a way I have never been inspired in my short fifteen years on this planet.

Posted by gunn parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 12, 2009 at 4:55 pm

JP was a popular, sweet person who suffered from depression. It is not anyone's fault nor is it JP's. Depression is an illness.

Now we all know the aftermath of what can happen -- the sadness and pain that this caused JP's family and friends. I think he would want all of us to do one thing: if you ever feel depressed to tell someone; a friend, parent, teacher, brother or sister and get help. If you suffer from depression and tell someone and they don't listen, tell someone else until you are heard.

Here is what JP taught all of us -- to live life to the fullest no matter what. For seeing the suffering caused by his death; not anyone of us would want this for our own family and friends. I have truly realized how one persons life can touch so many even if you don't know it.

And for the writer above who feels sadness, pain, hopelessness and grief -- it's the normal process to healing. I also saw that you felt this way when you receive a poor grade. Don't be too hard on yourself -- if you tried to the best of your ability then you did just fine. Tell the teacher you need additional help or talk to a counselor that's why they come to work everyday -- to teach.

Posted by Learned the hard and solid way
a resident of Midtown
on May 13, 2009 at 1:50 am

To "PA-Has-Big-Problems" (AKA Chris), you made many good points that many would prefer to duck.

The world "out there" isn't how it was over 20 years ago when I was in high school - and yet, it's still, "Not Fair!" The "prize" in education has made the high-paying jobs, glamorous lifestyles, fun gadget-y toys the Goal. Where's the BIG "Why?" for life? And I dont' mean religion here...

Yes, PA may be a pressure cooker environment for kids as well as parents, and it's been observed that many of these academically bright students have no clue what to do in "real life" - like how to take care of someone ill, how the flow of money works (get a job, spend the money?), CPR/First Aid, properly wash dishes, take out the garbage, or even how to do the laundry (colors vs white loads, yes?).

I've interviewed teens for entry level work, and many came in with such high self esteem attitudes, had no concept of being reliable, accountable, working with a team, or a supervisor. Many thought themselves above it all to get their hands dirty with manual labor, yet had no idea how to hold a shovel or use it. Their attitude got in the way of learning how to work WITH others, as well as pickup a new skill. They had no incentive to work hard and do well, and they didn't understand how come they needed to do a good job.

Here's my "grocery list" of priorities:
1. Family - health, safety, love, and communication
2. Basic needs - food, fuel, cleanliness, shelter, clothes, more love, respect, education, books/toys, fun and connection/recognition
3. Comforts - entertainment, extracurricular activities like dance/martial arts/sports/art class, transportation by adult, new clothes, TV, family vacations, etc.
4. Above and beyond - car for under 18, paid auto insurance, REALLY nice house, monthly/weekly parties, iPod/iPhone/PDA for the kids, Wiiiiii/XBox/Vid games, surround sound / theater system, cellphones, trips to Hawaii/Europe/Asia, etc.

1 and 2 are the minimum, build character, and open the eyes of the kids to see how to create their own world. The world isn't "given" to them - they have to work for it, as well as their "freedom" and the corresponsponding responsibility for participating in it.

To quote a line in Spiderman: "With great power comes great responsiblity."

That would apply to both kids AND adults. It means that kids get to take on the responsibility of their own lives, and the adults GIVE the teens the power as they earn it to be responsible for their own life. Yeah, it's a "test" and "pop quiz," along the way, with "final exam" at 18-years-old to see the teen start his/her way through life.

Parents: Empower the kids with your bravery, and honesty. Leave the glitz and glamour as they are - as icing on the proverbial cake. As adults, we need to Bake the cake... not just put on the icing to make the cake "look good."

OK, I'll get off my soapbox now... thanks for reading...

Posted by Paly Alum
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 13, 2009 at 2:13 am


How can you tell children to lighten up when their parents are telling them they are failing because they aren't earning A's or high scores? In some cultures, academics is top priority and they train their kids to study all the time. Kids always want to please their parents. So how can the other students compete with these kids who are studying all the time?

Or am I misinformed? Are students competing against each other or can the whole class earn A's? In my day, grades were on a curve.

Posted by another mom
a resident of Green Acres
on May 13, 2009 at 5:41 am

Paly Alum, the culture that holds academics as a top priority is the overall Silicon Valley win-at-all-costs (including cheating) attitude that is driving the problem. There are students of every nationality whose parents fit into this category. Palo Alto used to have a sense of balance. Maybe that was just a characteristic of the times. It's hard to teach your kid that kindness, balance and personal responsibility are priorities when a great tidal wave of children with parents who do not emphasize these things surrounds them every day. They get the message from everywhere that if they are not great students with an entrance letter to Stanford or an Ivy League school they are not worth much. That's a real shame.

I'd say that these kids will get a shock when they hit the real world, but I'm not sure that's true. They may well go through their entire lives feeling entitled and being able to fall back on their parents' wealth.

I just know that's not how I want my kids to live their lives and if the prize is an Ivy League education or bust, I don't want my kids in that race. And I say that having gone to an Ivy League school. It wasn't so great that I'd have my kid spend his youth trying to get there. What about today?

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 13, 2009 at 1:18 pm

another mom and Learned,

I agree with both of you--it's something I think of a lot as I try to raise children here. There is a real life out there that requires independence and practical skills in knowing how to work and play well with others.

How do you teach kids perspective when you live in a place where the perspective is so screwy?

another mom,

I think it does catch up--a friend of mine from one of those pressure-cooker family environment feels that it tends to really play out in personal relationships. My own observation is that it ultimately interferes with the ability to take risks, which in this culture has the biggest pay-offs.

Of course in this economy, all bets are off.

Posted by OP
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 24, 2009 at 10:12 pm

I will say one thing.

People should stop saying people thinking about suicide are only saying that to get attention.

stop it.

people who are depressed aren't trying to get attention.
we just need love.

Posted by get help, you aren't alone.
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 26, 2009 at 5:58 am

Only fools believe that those thinking about suicide are trying to get attention.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, please tell your parents to get help. If they are like mine were, and dismiss your worries or depression , go to your religious leader. If you don't have one, tell a good friend and ask that friend to get her/his parents to help bring you to help. If you believe you can't do that, and being that it is summer and no school is open to go to the counselors, call the school district office 329-3700 to see if any of the Directors are there..especially Carol Zepecki, who will know where to send you for help.

If you don't want to do any of that, go into ANY place of worship and ask to speak to the rabbi, priest or minister and they will make sure you get to the help you need.

Most important, remember that we all go through periods, sometimes seemingly endless and without any hope of ending, of feeling suicidal and hopeless. For some of us it is like a small cold for a day, for others like a very deep flu that seems like it will never end, but it always does. Don't do it. Get help. You aren't alone, even when it feels like it.

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