February 23, 2018

To Our PAUSD Community,

Today’s Weekly opens with some information related to school and student safety. Thank you in advance for your time in reviewing, and also for your recent thoughts and inquiries.

School Safety

The safety and security of all students and staff are of paramount importance, and at the forefront of our minds. Recent national tragedies remind us that planning and preparation are critical, and we’d like to share with you some information related to District attention to school safety.

Palo Alto Unified School District has an active committee called PEPC (PAUSD Emergency Preparedness Committee) comprised of school site and District administrators, as well as local first responders. The committee meets on a quarterly basis to evaluate safety procedures, review/implement recommendations, and organize events to promote emergency planning. Emergency preparedness at all sites consists of ongoing training and drills, including:

  • Lockdown (staff and student) Drills
  • Earthquake and Disaster Preparedness Trainings and Drills
  • Fire Drills
  • Emergency Team Trainings

Current school security assessments are being conducted at all schools within the next two months.  

We continue to be extremely appreciative of our ongoing partnerships with local law enforcement and the office of emergency services.  

For questions specific to your school site(s), please talk to your principal.  Contact information may be located online.

Safe Routes to Schools

We want to help ensure that our students and parents commute safely to and from our school sites.  Please take time to review traffic safety information specific to your school site(s), as well as City of Palo Alto’s Safe Routes to Schools Education Resource Page.

Message for PAUSD Parents About E-Cigarettes and Vaping

As we see an increase in use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices among teenagers, it is important our community is aware of this issue and knows what these devices look like. The following letter is courtesy of our colleagues in Orinda Union School District, and speaks to our shared concerns regarding this issue:

“This device, known as a “Juul” vaporizer, is rapidly gaining popularity nationwide among young teens. Students refer to using this device as “juuling.”

The Juul can be very deceptive as it does not look like an e-cigarette or vaping device (see photos below). It looks like a small USB flash drive and can be charged while plugged into a laptop. It is small enough to fit inside an enclosed hand and does not emit any odor; therefore, it is easily concealable from adults and simple to use for teens. In addition, the pods used with the Juul come in flavors such as strawberry, mango, fruit medley, and mint, all flavors that might appeal to teens. These kid-friendly flavors make the pods appear harmless; however, one Juul pod can contain as much nicotine as one pack of cigarettes. Even more concerning is that the Juul device can be used with marijuana. In addition, students can easily purchase these on Amazon without age verification.”

e-cigarette devicee-cigarette devicee-cigarette device

If you’d like more information, please contact your school site administration, or our District Student Services Office at (650) 833-4208 as we work together on behalf of safe, healthy, and informed student decision making.

Upcoming Events

Board Meetings

We have a regular Board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, February 27, 2018, and two special Board meetings scheduled for Tuesday, February 27, 2018, and Thursday, March 1, 2018.

For your convenience, below is a list of Open Session Agenda Items for the regular meeting:

  • Memorandum of Understanding with the Palo Alto Educators Association
  • Special Education Report
  • Board Policy (BP) 6151 Class Size
  • Second Interim Budget Report
  • Facilities Master Plan Project List Progress Report and Evaluation of the Possibility of a Ballot Measure Authorizing a 2018 School Bond
  • Amendment to the Solar Power Purchase Agreement with REC Solar
  • Authorization to Enter into a Project Management Agreement with ARC Alternatives, Inc.
  • Resolution No. 2017-18.10 for Full and Fair Funding of California's Public Schools
  • Next Step in Response to Stanford GUP
  • 2018 California School Boards Association (CSBA) Delegate Assembly Election

RISE Task Force

As part of the Superintendent’s RISE Task Force, we will be hosting a parent-series provided by Anea Bogue. She is scheduled to present to parents and community members at 2 p.m on Friday, February 23, and at 5 p.m. on Sunday, February 25. You can find more information on Bogue’s presentations or on our website.

Great Things Happening in PAUSD

Advanced Authentic Research (AAR) & Innovation

As February turns into March, AAR students are running their experiments and collecting the data that will form the backbone of their research projects. We are very excited to see their projects take shape, such as this hydroelectric generator that is being designed and built by AAR student Isabel Sperandio with the help of her mentor, Engineering faculty member Robert Cormia of Foothill College. Various parts of her generator are moving from the design stage to prototype and testing, and in her own words, the end result will be “a device similar to a river/hydropower device […] but adapted to work in the ocean for small-scale use.”
For any other students interested in green energy, Lockheed Martin is offering an exciting paid internship opportunity at its Advanced Technology Solar and Astrophysics Center in Palo Alto.

Advanced Authentic Research ProjectAdvanced Authentic Research ProjectAdvanced Authentic Research Project

Research with a Purpose: Girl Scouts partner with science museum to elevate community voices

Palo Alto’s fifth-grade Troop 60193 is working toward the Bronze Award in partnership with the 84-year-old Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo (JMZ). The JMZ is renovating and expanding its current site. The Girl Scouts have been interviewing and surveying community members, with a focus on youth, to learn what people love about the current museum and what they’d like to see in the new museum. They’re also exploring what people value about a community, overall, so that the renovated museum can highlight and cultivate those aspects.

The Girl Scouts have demonstrated enthusiasm and perseverance in this community-research endeavor. They started by spending time at the JMZ, learning about the JMZ’s existing exhibits and programs, talking with staff, and exploring the museum’s history. The girls are using a variety of research methods to gather data from a range of audiences: To encourage young, sometimes-shy visitors to share their perspectives, the Girl Scouts ask them to draw their favorite animals and exhibits. To engage families in conversation about their future vision, the girls developed a short interview script. The girls also circulate around the museum with clipboards to observe where and how visitors spend their time. To learn about staff perspectives, the girls developed an online survey focused on the JMZ’s intended audiences, mission, and vision for the new site. Overall, the girls have received enthusiastic, thoughtful responses from nearly 150 community members.

Throughout the process, the girls have regularly reflected on insights they’re gaining. They are currently analyzing the data, honing their public speaking skills, and producing a short video to share their insights. They developed an interactive presentation to share their process and findings with the JMZ staff and board at a special meeting on Thursday, February 22, 2018.

Through this Bronze Award project, the girls are serving a treasured community institution, gaining invaluable skills and confidence, deepening their friendships—and having fun!

Palo Alto Girl Scouts

Jordan Middle School

Lucy Larson, the Director of Education at the Palo Alto Art Center, shared this nice story with our Art Coordinator:

“Giada Parigi, a student at Jordan Middle School, recently reached out to the Art Center regarding her eighth-grade leadership class “purpose project.” As an elementary student at Ohlone, she participated in Cultural Kaleidoscope, the Art Center’s artist-in-the-schools program, for four years. As a student, she loved the program and vividly remembered the art she made, the collaboration days, and the field trips. For her “purpose project” she has decided to do an art supply drive to support Cultural Kaleidoscope.”

JLS Middle School

JLS has been selected to receive a Civic Learning Award of Merit from the California Department of Education. The selection committee, comprised of leaders in education and law, was very impressed with JLS’ commitment to providing our students with a high quality civic education. Megan Shelby, social studies instructional lead, applied for this award in early January on behalf of the history department at JLS due to the school's efforts to create civically engaged lessons and have students become participants in our democracy and community. The application highlighted the school's work during election years and the mock elections, the 8th grade U.S. history courses like Constitutional Convention and Amendment projects, and ongoing work around current events education.  

Terman Middle School

Terman Students Headed to State MathCounts Competition! Ten students represented Terman Middle School at the MathCounts chapter competition this year. They were: Alan L., Quincy R., Ted J., Alina L., Roger F., Isabel Y., Phillip H., Lydia C., Eric W., and Juno K. About 30 schools participated and Terman students ranked as follows:

  • Alan tied for 1st place (but lost the tie breaker)
  • Quincy finished 8th, and
  • Ted finished 10th

Our TEAM competition consisted of Alan (7th grade), Ted (8th grade), Alina (7th grade) and Roger (6th grade). They finished 3rd and qualified for State!

Quincy also qualified for State as the top independent!

There was a public countdown round consisting of students in groups of eight.  Alina, Alan, and Ted won three rounds.  Ted continued to advance to the top 4 and finished 4th!

Although it was nice to win, Terman math teacher Paul Jorgens stated he, “really appreciated how well the 10 (students) worked together and cheered for each other.”  There was a 90-minute lunch break which gave the students a lot of free time. During that time, our Terman students were engaged, playing card games, and laughing with each other. These behaviors did not go unnoticed. Two teachers from outside the District actually approached Mr. Jorgens wanting to know how he got his students to put down their cell phones and interact with each other.

Mr. Jorgens concluded by mentioning that even though it was nice to be recognized for the math accomplishments of the students he supports, it felt really good to be acknowledged for how well our Terman students get along with each other!

The state competition will be held on March 31 at Stanford University.  Go Terman Tigers!

Terman Math Counts Picture

Teachers and staff at Terman Middle School recently hosted their annual Science & Engineering Fair, showcasing nearly 70 projects from 179 students!

This fun, family-friendly, non-competitive event each year displays the work of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students in a range of science and engineering projects.  Students from Jordan Middle School participated as well this year.

The fair’s goals are to encourage students to work independently on projects they've selected, to improve their problem-solving skills, and to become familiar with an engineering practice or the scientific method and its application to real-world situations.  A very important goal of this entire process is for the student to develop confidence in her/himself, to practice public presentation skills, and to have fun while solving a scientific problem or tackling an engineering challenge.

Student participants receive constructive feedback from parent and high-school student “judges” and all students receive a ribbon and a certificate of participation.  Students who are interested in a formally judged competition can look into participating in the Synopsys Santa Clara County Science and Engineering fair that takes place in early March.   

Congratulations to all student participants for their terrific, inventive work!

Terman’s Music Department is celebrating an exciting start to 2018 with many performances in the band, orchestra, and choir. 7th and 8th grade students performed along with their teachers Mr. Dungan, Ms. Kerby, and Ms. Ou in their SoCal Tour Benefit Concert on February 8th. Music students from all three disciplines are working on very challenging and rewarding repertoire. We look forward to an eventful concert season in the coming months!

Students Ilan K., Emily H., Daniel L., and Milan R. were selected to play in the All-State Junior High Orchestra. Student Matthew L. was selected to play in the All-State Junior High Band. They will participate in the CASMEC conference on Feb 15-18 in San Jose. Congratulations!

Gunn High School

Juniors Anna Allport and Sophia Chiang won first place in the Palo Alto Rotary Club student speech contest, receiving $200 each January 24. Their 5-minute speeches were “Laughter is the Best Medicine” and “Have You Earned Your Tomorrow?” respectively.

Thirty-two members of Gunn’s FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) Club placed in the top ten at the February 3 Bay Section FBLA Regional Competition, with 18 qualifying for state competition.

Gunn 2009 grad Joanne Reid joined the U.S. Winter Olympics team as a biathlete. She remains a Gunn record-holder in track and is a champion cross-country skier.

Gunn’s varsity wrestling team placed fourth overall in SCVAL competition, with junior Dashiell Lee earning first place.

Junior Sakshi Satpathy qualified for the President’s Volunteer Service Award and won a Certificate of Excellence from the 2018 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards committee.

Seniors Elena Jurczak and Alana Rufer each earned a perfect score on at least one section of last May’s AP Language exam, in Italian and German, respectively.

Thank you to all World Languages teachers for their help with language placement tests February 12.

Over 660 students took the AMC (American Mathematics Competition) test February 7, a historically high participation rate.

Julea Douglas and Kathleen Beland, co-authors of School Connect (SELF’s curriculum), were impressed by their visit to our SELF program February 15 and will use it as a model program in the future.

Palo Alto High School

The Verde magazine incubator this month gave birth to two new baby magazines, Veritas (a science magazine) and Via Verde (a travel magazine). Click on the “Exclusives” tab at Verde Magazine to check them out!

Carla Guerard celebrated Mardi Gras with her students again this year – Check out her pix (attached)

Congratulations to the 5 Paly Arts students who had artworks selected for the 2018 New Museum of Los Gatos Student Exhibition on PERSPECTIVES:

  • Digital Media: Laney Henry
  • Photography: Clark Ericson and Evan Huang
  • Painting: Runru Shen and Jessica Lee

On Wednesday, February 28, members of the Paly school community will be receiving a Sweetheart Award. The Sweetheart Awards honor members of our community who touch the lives of PAUSD students with special needs. The awards are organized by the CAC for Special Education and sponsored by the PTA Council. Award recipients from Paly this year are: Suzie Brown (recently retired Registrar), Andy Dakopolos (teacher), Richard Islas (student) and Cynthia Mejia (teacher). Paly is proud of our “Sweethearts”!

Last week, our Robotics Team 8 hosted visitors from Korea and Chris Kuszmaul was invited informally to present at a workshop in Seoul in the fall of 2018. The team presented itself to the visitors (24 students and 5 teachers) and the visitors enjoyed a tour of the robotics lab.

This week, Robotics build season ended, the robot is the most ambitious design and implementation in the history of Paly robotics. This complexity (intake, elevator,  *and* climbing arms) represents amazing learning by the students. It also means the robot is on the edge between world class and not-operational. Kinda like a space shuttle.  Chris Kuszmaul joined in a proposal submitted by Stanford University for funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to train teachers to teach a foundational computer science class in a cohort of 40 schools in the West, to quote Dr. Vinay Chaudhry  "We have our fingers crossed."

Next week, Principle of Computer Science class will be learning about representations of sets of nodes and edges using coding bat. AP CS will begin implementing Dijkstra's algorithm, an algorithm normally only attempted by upper division undergraduates majoring in Computer Science.

Together Everyone Achieves More (TEAM) is getting ready for our annual Interdisciplinary Field Trip to Monterey--we'll be learning about John Steinbeck and historic Cannery Row, and also kicking off our evolution and ecology units by visiting the world renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium.  See attached photo from last year's trip featuring Randy Scilingo and some of his students outside of Doc Rickett's Lab at Pacific Biological. (see attached photo)

Wellness hosted an Empowerment Resource Fair during lunch on the quad today! Ten local community organizations participated including: CASSY, CHC, Impact Bay Area, Health Connected, One Love, RTS, SCCPHD, Outlet, Planned Parenthood, and Youthspace. Students had the opportunity to learn about healthy relationships, consent, combating sexual misconduct, and how to seek support for themselves or a friend.

My best to all as the weekend begins,

Karen Hendricks