Paly Community Update

Friday, April 28, 2023

Greetings Viking Families!

The safety and well being of our students and staff at Paly are always our top priority, and we are grateful to report that the student who posted the written threat on a classroom door has been apprehended. The on-going investigation and resolution of this situation by the Paly administrative team was supported by the Palo Alto Police and Palo Alto Unified District leadership.

The impact that this incident has had on our students has always been an on-going concern. The disruption of our school has not been taken lightly, and we are committed to providing support and resources for those who may need it. Please know that we are here for all of our students and encourage them to reach out to their teachers, counselors, wellness team, or any member of our staff if they desire or feel the need to do so.

As mentioned in the news release yesterday, our school’s camera system continues to be instrumental in ensuring the safety at Paly. Without this system, it might not have been possible to have reached this conclusion so soon. We want to thank our valuable staff at Paly, our Safety Director, and Information Technology staff for their assistance in this detailed process.

As we move forward, we want to reassure our families that we will continue to prioritize the safety and well-being of our students and staff at Paly. We have already used this incident to help guide and inform us of necessary changes and improvements to our current safety procedures.

We understand that it may take some time to return to normalcy, but we are committed to continuing to provide a safe and supportive learning environment. Thank you for your patience and cooperation during this challenging time. Together, we can support one another and move forward towards a great future.

SJP Cohort 7 Unveils New Mural at Paly

Big picture

A mural by members of Palo Alto High School's Social Justice Pathway, Cohort 7

This last Monday, seniors in the Social Justice Program (SJP) unveiled their mural art featuring an image of Congress Delegate Kimberly Teehee. In collaboration with the Same Moon, Same Stars Group, the goal of this project was to advocate for Native Americans to gain federal recognition. For more information, please visit the following SJP Website

PAUSD High School Updates

Off Campus Courses and updated AR's

Administrative Regulations

The following administrative regulations have been updated to help provide clarity with the procedures for taking courses outside the district towards graduation and challenging courses by examination. These administrative regulations will be effective June 5, 2023:

For more information pertaining to off-campus courses, please read our updated FAQ's.

Guidance Updates

Advisory Update

With the Semester 2 final progress grading period ending April 21st, and the end of the school year just a month away, time is precious. Advisory continued building on the theme of Taking Care of Business as finals approach.

One project students from the Student Advisory Committee undertook was to host roundtable discussions with students from each grade level to share their experiences of the year. Those discussions were taped and will be shared with the rising students for that grade level. There is always curiosity about what lies ahead. Sophomores worry about the added stress and workload of Junior year. Juniors worry about college applications and plans for post-Paly life. Having peers share their experiences is an idea the advisory committee members felt was really important. Final edits to the videos are happening now and we hope to

share the Junior roundtable with the Sophomores during tomorrow’s Advisory.

A gentle reminder to parents of Juniors: If you haven’t already done so, please complete the Parent/Guardian Assessment Survey that was shared with you by your student’s TA. Our TAs rely on all the components of the Senior Profile to write their letter of recommendation. If you can’t find the email from the TA, the survey can be found on Schoology.

One more - a reminder for parents of Sophomores: In Advisory on April 14th, sophomores were introduced to The TA Placement Survey. We will use the information to create the student cohorts and place them with their TA for 11th and 12th grade. We still have over 80 students that did not complete the survey! Reminder emails have been sent. Please remind your student to complete this by April 30th. If they do not complete the survey, they will still be placed with a TA. To find the survey:

  • Log in the the student’s Infinite Campus account

  • Click on the three lines in the upper left-hand corner of the homepage

  • Click on "Message Center"

  • Click on "Surveys" and then select "TA Placement Survey" on the Surveys tab.

Please note that this must be done from a STUDENT account, not a parent account. Feel free to contact

Ann Deggelman in the Guidance Office with any questions.

College & Career Center updates


For Seniors & Their Parents
Now that college acceptances are in and students have decided where to matriculate in the Fall, seniors can sit back a bit and reflect on the college search process and the fact that they not only survived but also were successful. Enjoying the end of the year senior tributes and setting aside some time to relax with family this summer should be next on the agenda. This is an exciting period, but, at times, may also feel like an emotional roller coaster. The following advice might prove helpful in the weeks ahead:

For Students:

  • Don't forget to formally thank the people who've helped support you in the college application process, including your teacher advisor and the teachers and others who wrote letters of recommendation on your behalf. A thank-you note expressing your gratitude goes a long way in showing appreciation for these people who give so much of their time.

  • When you receive the name and contact information of your roommate/s, take the time to text or call. A couple of conversations during the summer will help ease the transition in the fall.

  • Don't be surprised if the first few weeks of college are both exciting and overwhelming.

Remember that students are in a completely new environment. Even though you spent lots of time researching and visiting colleges, actually living the life is quite different. New people, a different schedule, and a heavier workload are all parts of the transition to college. Time management is critical and a challenging part of this adjustment process. Be patient and don't expect everything to be ideal. Remember that everyone is adjusting to college. If students feel stressed, they should seek out their advisor, talk with their college and high school friends and call their parents. Be proactive and take charge!

Here are some other popular books for students about transitioning to college:

  • "How to Survive Your Freshman Year" - Bernstein

  • "The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College" - Cohen

For Parents:

The following are a few tips, which were excerpted from a NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling) article as well as some advice from parents who've been through the process:

  • Expect the unexpected: your child will vacillate between emotions. Go with the flow!

  • Encourage independence but offer support. Allow your child to handle college arrangements but act as a safety net.

  • Keep the lines of communication open - the balance between offering support and taking over can be a fine line of distinction. Resist the temptation to stay in daily cell phone contact.

  • Make plans for communication while your child is at college. Expect the frequency to vary whether you use text or call.

  • Plan the big send-off if your student will live on campus. If you plan to accompany your student, be flexible. Talk with your child ahead of time about both your plans and their expectations.

  • Take time to adjust to a house without (or with) your college-bound student. If you have other children, they may also experience a period of transition. Remember that the first visit home will also be a time of adjustment for both parents and students. Once again, communication and a good sense of humor usually save the day!

Following are some resources that might be useful for you as you prepare for your senior to transition to his/her post high school life


Event Description: Already thinking about next year and college? Wondering what to expect? Curious about campus life? Student health and support? Whether your student is heading to a “4-Year” or Community college – the transition from high school senior to college freshman is an exciting – and significant – next step. A dynamic panel of local experts in college health, campus life and adolescent development will answer your specific questions & share their insights and advice on navigating the social transition to college. Panelists are: Donnovan Somera Yisrael, M.A. Manager of Emotional & Sexual Health Programs, I Thrive @ Stanford, Vaden Health Center, Stanford Univ.; Nancy Brown, Ph.D. Palo Alto Medical Foundation; Lisa Medoff, Ph.D., Lecturer, Human Biology, Stanford University; Sandra Cernobori, M.Ed., College Advisor, Palo Alto High School.




While the advice Brennan Barnard's Forbes article "The College Admission Paradox: Opportunity and Choice" is intended to help seniors choose among their college options, it also features excellent advice about how to approach the college search juniors are actively engaged in, including the "paradox of having too many options." The article highlights the framework for decision making from the last chapter in Barry Schwartz's The Paradox of Choice. You are encouraged to read and discuss this article with your student.

College Essay Guy College Application Virtual Workshops
Thanks to the generosity of Paly’s PTSA, we're excited to be partnering with College Essay Guy again this year to offer juniors a number of *free* and useful college application resources and virtual workshops this summer. Your student’s participation is optional.

Even if your student can’t make the live course dates, if they register, they’ll have access to the courses through the end of the year, and recordings of the sessions.

  • One-Week Personal Statement Boot Camps

    • June 12th-16th

    • July 31st-August 4th

  • One-Week Supplemental Essays Boot Camp

    • August 7th-11th

  • One-Week University of California Personal Insight Questions Boot Camp

    • July 10th-14th

If your student(s) would like to participate in any of the sessions, they need to register via this URL: . Please ensure they mark these event dates and times on their calendar. The College Essay Guy team will reach back out to them via email with more information as we draw closer to each event date.

Message about Naviance College Application Data

Naviance college application data is self-reported by students. At Paly we have created a process that aims to secure the collection of accurate data:

  • In fall, seniors complete a Cover Sheet assignment (Excel sheet in Teacher Advisor’s Schoology course) listing all the colleges they’re applying to and the application type (i.e. early decision, early action, regular decision, rolling, etc.)

  • Paly staff upload that data in Naviance

  • In May, seniors take the Graduation Survey to review their application list (i.e. Cover Sheets) and update application outcomes

Since the school site manages the process, students are unable to delete colleges but must report outcomes.

Gunn’s counseling system is different than Paly’s; as a result, their college application processing is different, too.

As noted on the Naviance homepage, college application outcomes for the past three years are not accurately displayed in the application history graphs and scattergram graphs. The known issues are as follows:

  • The college application data collection from 2020 is incomplete due to the pandemic and remote learning

  • The college application data from 2021 and 2022 isn’t being displayed correctly and has been reported to Naviance:

    • In 2021, it was determined the application data wasn’t being displayed correctly because the application status for each college application needed to be updated. Naviance wouldn’t change the status en masse and informed Paly it was too late for us to update it manually. Naviance has closed the help ticket and is not working on a resolution.

    • In 2022, Naviance changed the Graduation Survey but didn’t inform users. Only after Paly administered the graduation survey to all seniors in May, it was determined that the outcomes students indicated weren’t being updated in the college application tables and scattergram graphs. Paly filed a help ticket with Naviance last May and unfortunately, we are still working with the Naviance staff to get our issues resolved.

While the college application data in Naviance can be helpful to get a sense of application trends from our high school, scattergrams and application data don’t predict admission—especially at colleges that practice holistic admission and consider students’ extracurriculars, writing, and/or letters of rec. In fact, for UC admission, their systemwide and campus college application data for CA residents provides better context.

Naviance also has many other features and functions that help our families research colleges and careers.



Uniting for Mental Health Awareness

MAY is Mental Health Month!

Kickoff- event:

Mind Matters 5k

Saturday May 13: 9-11 am on Paly Quad & Viking Loop. Fun for the whole family, including a Quad Fair! Register Here

Wellness Activities:

De-stress week: May 15-19

Keep an eye out on Schoology for more details on upcoming events during the month of May!

Culminating Event: Author Talk with Joanna Ho, Paly Grad on Wednesday, May 24 during PRIME. Request a copy of her book, The Silence that Binds Us here.

Please note the novel The Silence that Binds Us deals with the topic of suicide.

Athletic Updates

The Honor Earl Hansen project officially names Earl Hansen Viking Stadium that surrounds legendary Hod Ray Field. It also places a monument for Earl in The Coaches Circle, creates an Earl Hansen Scholarship, produces a Champions Celebration in Earl’s name for all of Paly’s State Champions in boys and girls sports. We also plan to upgrade the scoreboard & sound system

Earl Hansen’s legacy at Palo Alto High School is much larger than the football program that he led. Like the legendary Hod Ray, Earl’s achievements extend to education, ethics and teamwork. Earl influenced hundreds of players, teachers and coaches, as head coach, teacher and athletic director. In his 26 years at Paly, Earl Hansen’s teams won more than 200 games, earned 4 Section Titles, and won the California State Title for Division I with a 14-0 record, the best in school history. He was voted State Coach of the Year and Athletic Director of the Year, and is a member of the California Coaches Hall of Fame.

The official naming of the stadium will occur during a home football game in the Fall of 2023. Please see the flyer below for additional information and opportunities to support this project.

Big picture

Work Permits

Summer is a great time for students to start exploring their career skills, so begin by researching opportunities in this slidedeck: Bulletin Board for Job/Volunteer & Summer Opportunities - updated regularly. Upcoming career related events include: Allcove - FREE monthly events for any student aged 12 - 25 year olds, Art & Culture Expo hosted by the EPACenter (including summer programs for teens), and two new PAUSD internships: Teacher in Training & School Safety Teams.

Work Permits: Bring a completed Statement of Intent to Work B1-1 document to office hours or submit to the lockbox. All students earning $$ and under the age of 18 are required to have a workers permit prior to starting their job. For more info contact the Work Experience teacher, Rachael Kaci:

Big picture