May 4, 2018

Hello to Our PAUSD Community,

One of the many things that I have grown to greatly love and appreciate about PAUSD is the consistent and unique student-centered focus that surrounds all learning in PK-12. This week started off with the magnificent Youth Art Show featured at the Palo Alto Art Center titled “Transformation.” Throughout the District, students also participated in many rich cultural Cinco de Mayo experiences, from singing to dancing to colorful activities expressing great pride in Mexican culture. Each activity embraced a true spirit of inclusion and equity. These are examples of what makes PAUSD such a wonderful school community.

From the various rich cultural activities in honor of Cinco de Mayo, to the annual Escondido International Fair and Parade of Flags…it's all about togetherness expressed through celebrations and student engagement at its finest level. Our wonderful staff extends a warm welcome to all students encouraging them to embrace the varied and rich cultures that make us a proud Palo Alto School District. Teachers spend countless time designing lessons and providing meaningful activities. Our heartfelt thanks to our amazing teachers and instructional assistants!

Next week is the official Week of the Teacher! Don’t forget to thank a teacher who has made a huge difference in the life of your child! I end this week with a heart full of gratitude for the outstanding community I am so proud to serve.

Escondido Collage of International Day Celebration Escondido Collage of International Day Celebration 2

Upcoming Events

We have a regular Board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, May 8, 2018.

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

  • Join the Conversation, Foothill-De Anza Community Outreach Initiative
  • Elementary History-Social Studies Curriculum
  • Middle School History-Social Science Textbook Selection Advisory Committee
  • 2017-2020 Equity Plan
  • California School Climate, Health, Learning System (Cal-SCHLS) Data and LCAP
  • Authorization to Approve the Budget for the Construction Phase of the Addison Project, Accept the Donation from an Anonymous Donor to Fund the Construction Phase, and Award the Construction Contract
  • Resolution No. 2017-18.14 Authorizing the Issuance and Sale of Bonds of the Palo Alto Unified School District in an Amount Not to Exceed $40,000,000, by Public Sale; Prescribing the Terms of Said Bonds; Approving the Form and Authorizing the Execution and Delivery of an Official Notice of Sale, a Paying Agent Agreement, a Continuing Disclosure Certificate, and an Official Statement Relating to Said Bonds; and Authorizing the Execution of Necessary Certificates and Documents Relating to Said Bonds
  • Evaluation of the Possibility of a Ballot Measure Authorizing a 2018 School Bond
  • Approval for First Amendment to Interim Assistant Superintendent Contract
  • Declaration of Need for Emergency and Limited Assignment Permits for Certificated Employees
  • School Calendar


May 5, 10:00 a.m. Downtown Palo Alto

Come and join the Duveneck Elementary School Parade on May 5 in downtown Palo Alto. It is a fun parade where all the Palo Alto schools march, joined by the fantastic middle school and high school bands.  It’s a carnival…if you have not participated before, do so this year! There will be music, and did we say lots of fun activities like face painting, fun balloons, food trucks and just pure happiness?

The theme is “Children of the World.” Come with flags of your country’s origin, dress up in clothes that reflect your country of origin or your cultural background, or a Duveneck T-shirt.

The march begins at 10:00 a.m. We gather in our spot  39 parking lot between Emerson/High Street and University/Lytton Avenue around 9:15 a.m., and get ready with balloons and lots of smiles. We’ll march down University Avenue at 10:00 a.m., and the march ends around 11:00 a.m. at the Heritage Park on Homer Avenue.

Parents and siblings are welcome to cheer us on from the sidewalks of University Avenue! If you are interested in marching with us, please let me know, as we would like four parents with the group.

Students, dress up and join us to show our school spirit. It is going to be a blast! Go Duveneck!

Any questions? Contact Oindrila Ray at

Great Things Happening in PAUSD

Classified Week

Classified Employee week is almost here and I have a few names of some employees that are being honored by California School Employees Association (CSEA).  

Joan Scherer, Guidance Secretary at JLS and CSEA Treasurer has been awarded the Golden Bear Area C Award. The award is presented to those union members who go above and beyond to improve the lives of classified union employees and the union. The award will be presented to Ms. Scherer on Saturday, May 5, at the CSEA Headquarters office in San Jose.  

The following 4 classified members were just voted Classified Employee of the year.  They are:

  • Ken Sandelin
  • Ann Deggelman
  • Maurad Stewart
  • Wendy Velez

Art Department

We had a great crowd of students, families, district staff, and art supporters at the reception for the 2018 Youth Art Show at the Palo Alto Art Center on Wednesday, May 2. Several hundred people came to view the student artwork and hear remarks from Mayor Liz Kniss, Interim Superintendent Karen Hendricks, and Art Coordinator Li Ezzell. PAUSD art teachers Deanna Messinger, Margo Wixsom, Jordan King, and Brett Griffith presented four of their high school art students with certificates, much praise, and checks for $250 each. The Senior Portfolio Award winners were Tian Chen (Gunn) and Johanna Ehrensvard (Paly), and the Creative Spirit Award winners were Clarissa Daniel (Gunn) and Gail Hildebrand (Paly). Congratulations to these students, and to all of the 400+ students whose artwork appears in this year’s Youth Art Show!

Many thanks to the staff of the Art Center, as well as our PAUSD Art Ed team, for making the show and the reception so successful. If you were not able to attend the reception, the Youth Art Show will be up until Sunday, May 20. More information can be found at the Palo Alto Art Center’s website.


We celebrated International Day today, May 4, with the Parade of Flags and performances in the morning. The children were asked which countries they are from and/or identify with. This morning, parents were invited to attend our celebration. First, our students showed off their singing and dancing talents onstage, and then students got to march around our center plaza behind their flag. At the end, everyone joined in one final march accompanying the flag of the U.S.

Our International Fun Fair will be this evening. Families have the opportunity to share their culture by setting up culture tables with information and artwork (and sometimes food samples) from their country of origin. Children's national dance and song performances will take place on the outdoor stage again in the evening.

This is our most important festival of the school year, representing our motto: "Friends Around the World."


Green Team Action! Did you know that old crayons turn into a waxy sludge that clogs our landfills and never biodegrades? The Hoover Green Team is recycling old crayons again through The Crayon Initiative, which turns old crayons into new ones and donates them to art programs at children's hospitals around the country. Hoover also congratulates the Green Team and Ms. Bryna Chang, a parent Green Team Champion, for winning a grant from PiE to purchase reusable “party packs” for class parties! Reusable plates, bowls, cups, and utensils keep waste out of our landfills!

A concert to remember! The Hoover 4th grade put on a musical concert to remember this week! Instruments, vocals, and dance moves were performed to an enthralled parent audience! Endless thanks to the wonderful Mrs. Lisa Cornejo, District music traveling team member, for her incredible work with our students!

Volunteer appreciation breakfast! The Hoover staff and students collaborated to decorate the MP room with notes of thanks from students and set up a grand buffet provided by staff for our amazing parent volunteers! Flowers, “Helpful Hedgie” trophies, and “You are treasured” mini wooden treasure chests were distributed to parents who have given incredible time, effort, and care to support our students, staff, and programs! Thank you, parents and families, for your dedication! You make a difference!


In recent weeks Nixon families have enjoyed both a Family Art Night and Family Science Night. Family Art Night was a first for Nixon this year with a gallery of delightful student art, as well as art activities for children and adults to enjoy. Family Science Night was a celebration of curiosity in the form of student science projects completed with family or friends. The Gunn High School Science Alliance provided exciting, interactive demonstrations for the children, and the Gunn Robotics Team wowed everyone with their remote controlled vehicles!

Student Poses During Family Art Night and Family Science Night Students working during Family Art Night and Family Sciene Night


Penguins and Piggies

It has been all things penguins in K-1 as Ohlone students have recently completed their Penguin unit that has encompassed skills in research, reading, writing, math, and science.  Students have written informational books on a penguin of their choice, and it was amazing to see their inclusion of text features such as diagrams, labeling, and zoom-ins! The unit was finished off with a trip to the zoo to visit our feathered friends, followed by a few penguin parties!

The theatre bug is alive and well at Ohlone, and this morning, we enjoyed some of our K-1 students in the Six Piggy Opera - delicious and adorable! Our youngest students demonstrated such confidence, poise, and singing panache for families and students. It was a wonderful opportunity for students to come together and shine.

Palo Verde

A special thanks to community member and Palo Verde parent for sharing the following good news with us:

“Palo Verde Elementary’s National GeoBee Champion, Abhivir Iyer, will compete in the prestigious 2018 International Geography and History Bee to be held in Germany this summer.  Abhivir’s winning season includes advancing to state levels in National Geo Bee 2018 earlier this spring, participating at the national level in Arlington, VA last weekend, and representing his school in International Geography Bee and History Olympiad at the middle school level in Berlin, Germany this July. Often the youngest among these student scholars, Abhivir especially thanks his teachers and principal for all their support!”

Palo Verde Elementary’s National GeoBee Champion, Abhivir Iyer.

Walter Hays

On Friday, April 27, the Walter Hays students and staff joined together to walk and run for our school. After collecting pledges from family and friends, the students of Walter Hays donned their sneakers, white T-shirts and sunglasses for the 2nd Annual Color Walkathon: 392 students and staff walked, ran, and jogged 3,109 laps (that's 777 ¼ miles!). Together they raised over $9,000 for their school. It's amazing what we can do together!

Students participating in 2nd Annual Color Walkathon 2 Students participating in 2nd Annual Color Walkathon 3 Students pose for picture during 2nd Annual Color Walkathon Students participating in 2nd Annual Color Walkathon.JPG


Congratulations to Gunn High School students Sebastian Cai, Melanie Hyde, Ella Jackson, Zoe Lew and Clara Schulz, who represented 140 of their AP Environmental Science and Marine Biology classmates at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Ocean Plastic Pollution Summit on April 28-29. The five delegates presented their semester-long projects on reducing single-use plastics to an audience of over 300 educators and student leaders from across the state.

Fifty-six Gunn students and staff participated in the April 16 Blood  Donation and Bone Marrow donor registration drive in Gunn’s library April 16, sponsored by Stanford Blood Bank, the YCS Interact Club, and iMed club. Approximately 120 patients will be helped, and all participating students and staff are very much appreciated.

Congratulations to all six Gunn Bands and Orchestras on earning Unanimous Superior ratings at the CMEA Festival last weekend. The Freshman Concert Band, Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, F-Period Orchestra, G-Period Orchestra, and Chamber Orchestra all earned the highest scores possible, a rare event.

Junior Helen Zhao won third prize competing with 19,000 students nationwide in the Business Growth Plan division of DECA’s (Entrepreneurship Club) competition in Atlanta. Other state champions and national finalists were Senior Cindy Guo and Freshmen Joshua Yang and Nikki Suzani.

Gunn and Paly students travelled to Ashland, Oregon with Kristen Lo, Jim Shelby and Paul Dunlap for a marathon of theater (five plays in three days) and a workshop.

A Camp Everytown meeting was held April 26 in the Gunn library, giving participants and their families an evening of learning around social change and the importance of empathy education.

Thanks to everyone who visited the AP Statistics Showcase this week.

Jack Ballard and Chris Bell have been selected to speak at the Schoology NEXT conference this summer. is currently featuring a video of our Blended Learning program, and highlights some of our teachers and students.

Our Professional Learning Communities (PLC) work at Gunn was featured in a webinar series hosted by Schoology. Chris Bell presented our process to educators across the country and has received excellent feedback on the great work our teachers continue to do.

Chris Bell has been recognized as a Google for Education Certified Trainer. The District will be expanding on this year’s efforts in Google Certification training next year with Educator Levels 1 and 2 being offered. All staff are encouraged to sign up through MyLearningPlan when dates are made available.

My best to you as your weekend begins,

Karen Hendricks