April 25, 2018

Hello to Our PAUSD Community,

As this email appears in your box today, I’ll be headed to Southern California to celebrate my eldest daughter’s college graduation tomorrow! Please let me extend this note of appreciation to Assistant Superintendents Barbara Harris and Yolanda Conaway for stepping in to finalize information for this Weekly. On behalf of our team, I wish you a great weekend ahead.

Elementary Education

Throughout Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) this week major celebrations were happening to honor the work of two very specials groups: staff appreciation week and administrative professionals. The praise for both groups was celebrated in big and small ways. At one school the theme for one day was Stop and Smell the Roses and staff received a garden bouquet of fresh flowers. Appreciation lunches, salad bars, sweet notes, cards, and gratitude overflowed in abundance.

We acknowledge that without the support of our amazing teachers, our faithful staff members and our caring and capable administrative professionals we could not begin to support our families and students. So, from my heart to all of yours I send a heartfelt resounding Thank you for all you do each and every day to make PAUSD a stellar district to work for. It truly takes a village.

The Department of Wellness and Support Services

Family Leadership Conference

The Wellness and Support Services Department collaborated with community partners and the Academic Supports Department to host the following sessions for families at PAUSD’s Family Leadership Conference. Parents or school communities interested in partnering similar opportunities to families are encouraged to contact the Wellness and Support Services Department.

Introduction to Assets: This workshop discussed the importance of positive youth development and simple ways to use the developmental assets model to help young people thrive. Developmental assets are the positive values, relationships, skills, and experiences that help children and teens succeed. Young people with high assets levels are most likely to make healthy choices.

Health Connected Workshops: Find out what kids really want to know about sexual health and relationships. Using student questions from the anonymous Question Box, we will practice how best to answer questions about bodies, sexuality, and reproduction. Come and be inspired to be an "Askable Adult," and to engage more openly and honestly with your child.

Social Emotional Literacy and Functionality (SELF): In line with PAUSD’s efforts to increase student access to Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) supports and services to improve safety and wellness for all students, Henry M. Gunn High School has implemented a new program, SELF for all 9th graders. The program provides high-quality SEL direct instruction that will eventually be implemented at all four grade levels and seeks to build community and connect students to trusted adults. The skills that students learn are critical for their health, happiness, and success in personal and professional contexts, especially as companies now actively seek candidates who have excellent interpersonal and teamwork skills.

Professional Development

Members of the Wellness and Support Services Department including the high school Wellness Center teams will be attending the Adolescent Mental Wellness Conference: Overcoming Cultural Barriers to Access in Santa Clara [2] hosted by Stanford Children’s Health.  The group is excited to collaborate with local and national youth, clinicians, and experts to improve adolescent wellbeing.

The Lead District Nurse will attend the Santa Clara County Public Health Department “Communicating with Schools in a Public Health Emergency.” The two half-day sessions are designed to lead school district leadership through a series of scenario-based discussion to brainstorm ideas and strengthen communication protocols.

Health Services will have District and site level staff attend the Santa Clara County Public Health Department “School 101.” Topics will include discussions on immunizations, medical exemptions, annual immunization assessment reporting, Tuberculosis (TB) basics, immunizations and Individualized Educational Program (IEP), Child Health and Disability Prevention (CHDP,) Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) Program, and Social Media.

Palo Alto Police Department School Resource Officer Brad Young presented to middle and high school counselors and Wellness Staff on the impact of vaping on adolescent health and behavior.

Health Services

Nursing Students collaborated with Paly Sources of Strength to host a lunch time activity on Gratitude. Students created a large board where they wrote what they are grateful for. The board will be moved to a permanent space for continued access by all students.

Comprehensive Sexual Health Education Update

5th Grade Puberty Talk

All elementary schools have completed 5th grade Puberty Talk lessons, except Ohlone which completed its cycle in 2016-17 for 4th and 5th grade students.

7th Grade Comprehensive Sexual Health Education:

Terman Middle School has completed 7th Grade Teen Talk lessons as of April 27, 2018. JLS and Jordan Middle Schools will begin these lessons on May 7.

All 7th grade families were invited to attend the Parent Information Nights lead by Health Connected at all three middle school.

High School Wellness Center Outreach Efforts

Cocoa with Counselors: Wellness Center Staff at both high schools worked with students and counselors from guidance, wellness, special education, and college and career to host a social and offer hot beverages and snacks to students. This event allowed students the opportunity to engage with counselors from all areas of campus, destigmatize services and make it easier for students to reach out.

Jackson Katz Support Circles: As a part of National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and in partnership with the Responsive Inclusive Safe Environment (RISE) committee’s work around prevention of sexual harassment and misconduct the Wellness Centers hosted peer support circles following Dr. Jackson Katz’s presentations to all students.

Gunn Wellness Center

Gunn High School students and Silicon Valley Faces hosted the Camp Everytown Community Event for students, families, and community members. Camp Everytown is a nationally recognized intensive leadership program based on core values, respect, acceptance and responsibility that promote nonviolent campus communities. Participants engaged in interactive activities and students shared their experience from camp.

Paly Wellness Center

National Alcohol and Drug Awareness Month: Wellness Center Staff worked with students and Paly Radio to run a Public Service Announcement from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) discussing the dangers of alcohol use as well as provided resources for anyone struggling with drug and alcohol use. The Wellness Center also ran a slideshow in the center with Q & A (quiz) on teen alcohol abuse.

Advanced Authentic Research (AAR) and Innovation

The AAR and Innovation Celebratory Showcase will be held at the Paly Media Arts Center on Friday, May 18, 6:00 p.m. This event features student projects from AAR and its partner programs, including AP Capstone, Career Technical Education (CTE) programs including Gunn Auto, Video, and Culinary Arts, Paly Early Childhood Education, the Paly Social Justice Pathway, and more.

AAR students are all hard at work getting their poster presentations ready with the help of their teachers and mentors. For example, AAR student Ashley Poon worked with Teaspoon to research digital marketing strategies and develop a plan for the growing company. Representatives from Teaspoon will be attending the Celebratory Showcase to support Ashley’s work. The Celebratory Showcase, which is open to the public, will also be welcoming distinguished guests and interested parties including the Career Pathways Consultant for the Edmonton Public School Board in Alberta, Canada a district that serves approximately 100,000 students and is eager to learn about innovation in AAR.

Gunn students in Career Technical Education (CTE)/AAR Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) Ed Corpuz’s video production classes have created and submitted video entries for the California Department of Education’s 2018 California Assessment of Student Progress (CAASPP) Video Contest. The students’ talent and hard work is reflected in the polished, professional videos they produced. From the California Department of Education (CDE), “the video contest is part of a statewide effort to raise awareness about the importance of the statewide assessments.”

AAR has been working with CTE to explore dual enrollment options for CTE courses through a partnership with Foothill College. AAR teachers and district staff met with Foothill Deans in April to discuss CTE articulation and dual enrollment options. Stemming from this meeting, Paly’s Early Childhood Education program, led by Hilary McDaniel, is working on certification and dual enrollment alignment with Foothill, and the program is working to build a pathway for students that extends beyond high school.

The 2018-19 renewal application is set to be submitted ahead of schedule for the Carl D. Perkins CTE grant. AAR has been working with CTE teachers to determine their needs for next year. This annual resource helps fund equipment, field trips, and other important services that support PAUSD’s CTE courses.

Special Olympics

The Special Education Team puts on another great event for our students with Disabilities!.jpeg

The Special Education Team puts on another great event for our students with Disabilities! 

PAUSD celebrated its 3rd annual Special Olympics Track and Field Event on Friday, April 27, at Gunn High School. We had 133 student athletes from our elementary, middle, and high schools demonstrate their skills in track and field events. Events included the mile run, long jump, shot put, javelin throw, 50 and 100 meter dash, and a relay race. Student lunches and were provided by the Palo Alto Lions Club, the Palo Alto Council of PTAs and the Palo Alto CAC for Special Education. Thank you for the Gunn High School band for the musical entertainment. This event provided amazing opportunities for students with special needs and their general education peers to work together as teammates to create inclusive schools.

Participants at Special Olympics at Gunn HS Participants during Special Olympics at Gunn

Race at Special Olympics  Student participant at Special Olympics

Special Olympics Race Celebratory moment during Special Olympics

Upcoming Events

Multicultural Night, 25 Churchill, Wednesday, May 2, 2018 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Join us as we travel through history and learn about one of the many cultures in Palo Alto. Dr. Gerry Lopez will be presenting "Cinco De Mayo: The Battle Continues." Dr. Lopez will use storytelling and music to highlight how Cinco de Mayo illustrates a time when Mexico and the United States supported each other against a common threat and aggressor.

Community members will learn together and connect with other families by participating in cultural activities, games, dancing, arts and crafts. Light refreshments will be provided. For those interested in participating in a potluck, please bring a dish from your culture to share; however, bringing a dish is not required.  For more information, contact the Wellness and Support Services Department.

From an amazing 8th Grade student at JLS:

  • What: Silent auction to benefit rare brain disease Moyamoya
  • When: Saturday, May 5, from 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Where: El Palo Room at the Mitchell Park Community Center, 3700 Middlefield Rd, Palo Alto
  • Why: All proceeds will be donated to Stanford to help further research on Moyamoya. You can also bid on items like gift cards to local restaurants and spas, and gift baskets.

Great Things Happening in PAUSD

Art Department

Art Education is gearing up for our annual Youth Art show at the Palo Alto Art Center! This year’s theme is “Transformation,” a reference to how artists transform materials to create art, and to how students are transformed through art-making. All PAUSD schools are represented in the show, with artwork from over 400 K-12 students.

The exhibition runs April 28-May 20. A reception will be held Wednesday, May 2, 4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m In addition to all of the wonderful student artwork, there will be music and refreshments. Please come support our student artists! An interview with PAUSD Art Coordinator Li Ezzell about the Youth Art show can be found on the Palo Alto Art Center website.

Youth Art at Palo Alto Art Center


From our student reporter Anna Allport:

Last Friday and Saturday, April 20 and 21, the Gunn HS Thespians won two awards at the TheatreWorks 1440 Countdown, an annual performing arts competition for teens.

Here is a press release and photo:

Congratulations to the Gunn High School Thespians, who won Best Comedy and Most Creative Use of Prop at the Seventh Annual TheatreWorks 1440 Countdown Festival 2018 on April 20-21. This event is a 24-hour (or 1,440 minute) playwriting/producing/performing competition showcasing new work by Bay Area teens.

The catch? The play has to be 10 minutes long, has to incorporate a theme selected by the TheatreWorks panel, as well as a variety of challenging constraints.

Gunn Thespians won Best Comedy and Most Creative Use of Prop

The Gunn Thespian Team:  

Back row: Amelia Creemer, Sophomore; Gabie Faulkner, Junior; Anna Allport, Junior; Kyle Petersen, Senior; Arman Moslehi, Junior; Sergio Morejon, Freshman.

Front row: Henry Alper, Senior; Jennifer Guzman, Freshman.

Thank you to Theatreworks organizers Katie Bartholomew and Meghan C. Hakes, and to the 1440 Countdown Judges: Robert Kelley, Theatreworks Founder and Artistic Director, Karen Piemme, A Bay Area director, and Kim Mohne Hill, a Bay Area Director and Dialect Coach—all of whom shared valuable feedback and encouragement to the student performers.

From Gunn Teacher Toni Smith:

Say hello to our newest World Champion, Helen Zhao!!!

Third in the World in Business Growth Plan. 19,000 students from all over the continent competed in the National DECA competition in Atlanta, ,GA.

We arrived with four State Champions and National Finalists. Cindy Guo, Helen Zhao, Joshua Yang, and Nikki Suzani. I am very proud of all of our competitors. Please congratulate all when you see them.

Of course, in between competing, there was time for homework along with a trip to the Aquarium, CNN, Coca Cola Factory and some hometown southern cooking! Emory University was just next door, too.

See you soon. Thank you everyone who assisted in getting these amazing students where they are.

My best to you as your weekend begins,

Karen Hendricks