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Parting thoughts

Original post made on May 30, 2014

They are part of a generation that has experienced real-world success at an early age through their startups and nonprofits, pursued interests as diverse as music, sports and world affairs, and explored the potential of technology they've been immersed in all their lives.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 30, 2014, 12:00 AM

Comments (17)

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Posted by Moira
a resident of Midtown
on May 30, 2014 at 12:46 pm

Oh yes, picked at random Palo Alto students: MIT, two to Stanford, George Washington Univ., and 2 UCs. Why do they have students put their colleges on graduation caps at Gunn and Paly and noone complains about the pretentious nature of this? Your friends and family know where you're going to college, who else needs to know? I went to Berkeley and my high school classmates would never have participated in that. It would seem like showing off, which our parents taught us was impolite.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 30, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Moira, good point. Unfortunately the parents are the ones wearing the parental sweatshirts and driving with bumper stickers on their cars showing where their kids will attend. They could quite possibly be the ones putting the logos on the hats too while their kids are studying (or partying).

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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 30, 2014 at 1:31 pm

I find it interesting that not one of these kids, all apparently bright and successful, have identified the schools as the source of the academic pressure they face. Hopefully people are listening and will start for focus on other areas we can make improvements…maybe by starting with the parents who are wearing their child's school wear...

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Posted by Paly Class of 2014
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 30, 2014 at 2:55 pm

While I enjoyed reading about what my Paly peers had to say, their experiences are not wholly representative of our graduating class. All three are heading off to highly competitive colleges this fall, and each of them was a member of The Campanile -- two of them were even Editors in Chief. What about all of the other students not involved in Campy (one of many Paly publications) or journalism in general? How about the students with different plans for the future, such as attending community college, pursuing an athletic career or joining the workforce? As a Paly student, I would have liked to see a greater variety of students featured.

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Posted by Steve Dallas
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 30, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Paly grad Kian McHugh states, "I understand the gravity of the situation and the legalities behind it, but going from watching the tradition that all seniors have gone through to being told I could be a legal sex offender ... if I were caught streaking is a very intense transition. And that's the direction we're headed. I think certain limitations are good, but we definitely have to be careful because if it does go too far it could taint what makes Paly so wonderful. High school students need to keep a sense of fun."

After the administration received complaints from staff and parents they had no choice but to crack down on streaking. However, I agree with Kian that the method employed was unfortunate particularly when the threat of having to register as a lifetime sex offender is not supported by law. Streaking per se does not constitute indecent exposure as defined under CA penal code Section 314. Lewd intent must be proven which is further defined by the following California Case Law:

In re Smith, (1972) 7 Cal.3d 362, 366. ("From the foregoing definitions and cases the rule clearly emerges that a person does not expose his private parts "lewdly" within the meaning of section 314 unless his conduct is sexually motivated. Accordingly, a conviction of that offense requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the actor not only meant to expose himself, but intended by his conduct to direct public attention to his genitals for purposes of sexual arousal, gratification, or affront.") See Web Link

In re Dallas W., (2000) 85 Cal.App.4th 937, 938. ("The juvenile court found this was "a mooning case," and that Dallas had "exposed his buttocks ... with the intent to annoy and affront people." The court specifically found that Dallas did not act with "sexual intent in the sense that he intended to arouse himself or a third person by his act. I think he did it strictly to annoy and to affront people." The petition was nevertheless sustained, and Dallas was made a ward of the court. He appeals. Because the court found Dallas acted without any sexual intent, we reverse [his indecent exposure conviction].") See Web Link

Furthermore under the California Ed Code students may not be suspended for streaking if it is a first time offense:

48900.5. (a) Suspension, including supervised suspension as
described in Section 48911.1, shall be imposed only when other means
of correction fail to bring about proper conduct. A school district
may document the other means of correction used and place that
documentation in the pupil's record, which may be accessed pursuant
to Section 49069. However, a pupil, including an individual with
exceptional needs, as defined in Section 56026, may be suspended,
subject to Section 1415 of Title 20 of the United States Code, for
any of the reasons enumerated in Section 48900 upon a first offense,
if the principal or superintendent of schools determines that the
pupil violated subdivision (a), (b), (c), (d), or (e) of Section
48900 or that the pupil's presence causes a danger to persons.

Section 48900 defines a-e as:

(a) (1) Caused, attempted to cause, or threatened to cause
physical injury to another person.
(2) Willfully used force or violence upon the person of another,
except in self-defense.
(b) Possessed, sold, or otherwise furnished a firearm, knife,
explosive, or other dangerous object, unless, in the case of
possession of an object of this type, the pupil had obtained written
permission to possess the item from a certificated school employee,
which is concurred in by the principal or the designee of the
(c) Unlawfully possessed, used, sold, or otherwise furnished, or
been under the influence of, a controlled substance listed in Chapter
2 (commencing with Section 11053) of Division 10 of the Health and
Safety Code, an alcoholic beverage, or an intoxicant of any kind.
(d) Unlawfully offered, arranged, or negotiated to sell a
controlled substance listed in Chapter 2 (commencing with Section
11053) of Division 10 of the Health and Safety Code, an alcoholic
beverage, or an intoxicant of any kind, and either sold, delivered,
or otherwise furnished to a person another liquid, substance, or
material and represented the liquid, substance, or material as a
controlled substance, alcoholic beverage, or intoxicant.
(e) Committed or attempted to commit robbery or extortion.

See: Web Link

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Posted by Emma Isabella
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 30, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Emma Isabella is a registered user.

Way to give the Class of 2015 information they can use Steve Dallas! ;-)

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Posted by Joan Mather
a resident of another community
on May 30, 2014 at 8:36 pm

I am so pleased to read that some of the letters above express negative reactions about the Palo Alto/Gunn custom of writing the name of the college that a student will attend, on their mortar boards.

One writer even notes with surprise that more haven't commented on this. I was amazed and angered, but NOT surprised by this example of a community often criticized for it's elitism, parentally pressured students, and often crass affluence.

Were the students not going on to a university (even non status) or planning on a community college given a "separate but equal ceremony? You can be sure that their mortar boards were not decorated.

This is an insensitive (these days an "out of date" word) "custom" that should be discontinued.

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Posted by LAH?
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 30, 2014 at 9:46 pm

[Post removed.]

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Posted by Paly mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 31, 2014 at 9:54 am

One of the interviewed students Hillel Zand wrote a guest opinion for the Weekly on January 31,2014 "At Paly, workload turns learning experience into drudgery"
Web Link
He talks about a system that "force feeds information, thus restricting our capacity for application of knowledge and lessening enthusiasm for learning." Hillel writes about academic stress and its effects on students resulting in sleep deprivation, mental health issues and cheating. "[The] real shame lies in the mental toll that students incur from this "educationpocalypse." He also quotes principal Kim Diorio who thinks "teachers need to do a better job empathizing with what it's like to be a high school student and I think they need to hear student voices."

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Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 31, 2014 at 12:47 pm

"You can be sure that their mortar boards were not decorated."
Actually, I saw at least 2 "Foothill" decorated mortar boards. Anyone can decorate theirs -- there were multiple with just designs (not school logos)... Mortar board decoration is a personal choice: Do I want to put the effort into this? I know many fellow college-bound seniors who didn't decorate their mortar boards just because they didn't want to take the time to do it not because they were ashamed of what their post-HS plans were.

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Posted by Opal'z
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 31, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Opal'z is a registered user.

I agree with Moira and Joan,
I think decorating your cap with your college acceptance is flaunting. It's hard enough getting through high school. Just let everybody enjoy that accomplishment and let them network for their upcoming next school in other ways.

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Posted by Annie
a resident of Midtown
on May 31, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Who are the people who are so sensitive to displaying college logos on graduation caps? Why is it a sign of elitism? Why take it so negatively? It is a sign of pride and accomplishment and not bragging. Plus many of the colleges are nothing to brag about anyway.

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Posted by Los Altos mama
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 31, 2014 at 9:16 pm

[Post removed.]

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Posted by paly parent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 1, 2014 at 10:25 am

Its not like Paly and Gunn are the only high schools in the country that decorate their mortarboards. Its a common occurrence. It seems to me that graduations is the appropriate time to display pride in your accomplishments!

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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 1, 2014 at 1:18 pm

pride goeth before destruction

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Posted by former PALY parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 1, 2014 at 3:42 pm

I wish success to all the grads and commend those with good taste. It is NOT good manners to display one's future university on one's mortarboard and this has not always been a tradition here. If asked, one can proudly state wherever one will attend, but to broadcast it boldly in this fashion is often absolute bragging.
I also wish local newspapers would not typically interview and focus on students involved with the Campanile. Back in our day, this was most certainly the case, with a tiny handful of students getting unnecessary attention in the news on several occasions and many students with diverse extra-curriculars and talents completely unacknowledged and overlooked. I know it seems easiest to contact 1)school newspaper staff 2)student council or 2)daughter with famous last name, and these are felt to be "the VIPs" but these are not examples of the most interesting stories on any campus.

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Posted by Americans have no manners
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 2, 2014 at 9:13 am

American kids are among the rudest, most uncultured, ill-mannered in the world. The parents have no time to make sure they are well-rounded culturally and socially. Palo Alto parents are the busiest in the country, so what do you expect?

I have travelled on three continents extensively. Only certain countries in South America and Asia have ruder kids.

It you reap what you sow with kids, so it stands to reason that throwing money at them does not improve their manners.

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

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