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The Class of 2017: on finding their 'tribes'

Original post made on Jun 1, 2017

While education is the primary job of most teenagers over the course of high school, it is often the experiences they pursue outside the classroom that mold and shape who they are.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, June 1, 2017, 8:29 AM

Comments (8)

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 1, 2017 at 10:48 am

While I like the idea that this article is portraying of activities other than academics, it is still very much school related.

There are many, many teens who get involved in activities outside school where they find their "happy place" which help them succeed. For some it may be Boy Scouts, or Girl Scouts, others their church activities, others find drama or music outside school, or get involved in a sport such as ice skating, gymnastics, etc. all of give them opportunities for leadership as well as perhaps less challenging and less judgmental opportunities for spending their limited amounts of free time.

For many, when the last bell rings, they leave school for the day and start finding their way to something that enables them to meet other like minded teens from other schools as well as other communities and in my opinion this is something that enables them to completely unwind from the school environment. It probably helps them to meet those from other backgrounds and neighborhoods, another way of looking at diversity, as well as being able to make comparisons with other teens as to how they look at their high school.

I always liked my own teens meeting people their own age from other school districts so that they could see that there are other ways of doing things rather than the "Palo Alto Way".


Posted by Thank you, Gunn High School
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 1, 2017 at 11:41 am

My kids found pleasure in and out of the classroom at Gunn. Many classes were intellectually stimulating and gave my daughter who just graduated the opportunity to stretch herself creatively. Outside of class she found a "happy place" in Jim Shelby and Kristen Lo's wonderful Gunn Theatre program.

What I heard students say at graduation is, "Do work that is meaningful to you. Share lovingly. Joy will follow." Great wisdom for life...something they learned at Gunn.

It would be nice if the Weekly would stop painting our schools as though our children are victims of a joyless mill. There are wonderful resources in our schools...and many happy voices.

High school is a challenging time of life for most kids, everywhere, not just in Palo Alto. If you enter any system with an expectation of perfection, you are bound to be disappointed. My kids entered with the expectation that they'd have to take some classes they liked and didn't like and they they'd have some teachers they liked and didn't like. That's life. They entered with the expectation that school is not always fun and is often just hard work. They found some truly inspirational teachers:

Jim Shelby(who inspires a passion for theatre and builds wonderful skills and confidence in every student who participates),
Paul Dunlap(whose lively classroom discussions spilled over to our dinner table), Casey O'Connell (a teacher whose classroom approach REQUIRES deep critical thinking. He's a little intimidating at first, but offers a wonderful learning experience to kids who rise to the challenge),
Chris Redfield (a teacher who has a gift for explaining high level math with a simplicity that makes it accessible to every student),
Bill Liberatore (Gunn's gifted choir director),
Mark Hernandez (an entertaining but demanding educator who helped both of my kids become much stronger writers),
Jordan Wells (who offered teatime and philosophy discussions to anyone who cared to come outside of class for an extended discussion of the day's learning);

I'm sure I missed many fine teachers, but these are a few who spring to mind as having offered something extraordinary to my children, and I thank them.

Thank you, Gunn High School. It has been a great experience, along with some deeply sorrowful and frustrating moments. (Just like life.) Saying goodbye is bittersweet, but my kids are ready for whatever comes next. Thank you for your help in preparing them.


Posted by Right!
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 1, 2017 at 12:22 pm

Haha, there is hardly any time for tribes with all the schoolwork they have. PAUSD kids are stressed-out and sleep-deprived. I think some of the teachers need to be enlightened about how difficult college admissions are these days and maybe they'd have some empathy (or sympathy). Some of them get it, but many do not. All of the UCs require mostly As on the transcripts.


Posted by What About....?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 1, 2017 at 2:07 pm

So, what does this mean for so very many of the high school students whose parents keep them busy with after-school tutors, music lessons, weekend language immersion schools?

These are the kids whose parents have every minute of their waking hours scheduled-- no friends after school, no birthday parties, no sports or hobbies-- and often not even any pets!

These kids have no downtime, even over school holidays!

They get punished for getting a B+!


Posted by Huh?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 1, 2017 at 5:23 pm

@whatabout?: How is that relevant? That's a parenting culture, not prevalent in all parenting values. I feel sorry for those kids, who are socially inept due to the lack of down time.


Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 1, 2017 at 8:33 pm

@Huh, don't worry, those parents and kids feel sorry for you and yours, since relative to them most are less accomplished. To each their own!


Posted by Huh?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 1, 2017 at 8:43 pm

@Paly Parent: Ha, so true! They couldn't believe my son was doing no academic camps last summer. I feel sorry that their kids have no choices in their lives. A student we know has to get up at 4AM (10 years old) to practice piano . . . be tops in everything he competes in, and his dad says he must become a physician. I asked him if he wants to be one and he replied "No". But the weird thing is he is happy, for now at least, since it's all he knows.


Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 2, 2017 at 12:26 am

Speaking of those "kids have no choices in their lives", do they eventually get to choose their own spouse, or is that also a choice made by the parents? Actually I'm not sure whether it would make much difference. Maybe that's a Chandrama-blog question.


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