Paly Community Update
Friday December 18, 2020
Holiday Artwork from our Futures Students
Dear Paly Parents and Guardians,
The holiday break marks the middle of our school year and this has been the most interesting school year I have ever experienced. I am sure all of you feel the same. Everything that we have ever done to create an effective learning environment has changed in almost every way. Together, we have learned to adapt to this new way of learning, with the most significant change being that as parents, you have now become part of our school support staff.
As a parent you are the only school support staff that most students are now seeing in the hall. Typically, we get those special moments when we get to encourage, challenge, and hear our individual students. Oftentimes, this happens when the students are coming in the classroom from a passing period, or as they are walking from class to class, or when they come to visit the classroom before or after school. Those moments still happen for us, but as you can imagine, these moments happen within the virtual classroom.
I would personally like to thank you for taking on this new responsibility and providing our students with the support they need at home. Thank you for being our partner in those conversations that you are now having in the hall. Thank you for being the school support staff your children see in the halls at home. I hope sooner than later we can relieve you of this duty and get our students back to school.
I hope that all of you are able to have as normal of a holiday break as possible. I know that all of us here at Paly have worked tirelessly to provide our students with an effective distance learning experience. We encourage you and your families to unplug and unwind between Friday, December 18 and Thursday, January 7. Our teachers and school staff will also be taking a break; I will be encouraging them to disconnect too. We look forward to seeing our students back in classes starting at 9:00 AM on Thursday, January 7!
Happy holidays to all of you and here’s to a new year with a bright future and opportunity to find our “normal” again.
Brent Kline, Principal
Free Activities to Do During Break
Palo Alto City Events, including Public Art Scavenger Hunt and Holiday Decorations (more info here)
Visit Open Space Preserves
Infinite Campus - Grades and Student Schedules
In order to allow students and staff to take a much-needed break, we will be turning off student and parent access to grades in Infinite Campus. We will turn this back on Thursday 1/7/21.
Students will be able to view their semester 2 schedules starting 1/4/21. The majority of student schedules will remain the same, however, please have your student double-check their schedule before starting class on 1/7/21 as there have been a few adjustments made to balance semester course sections. Unless a student has specifically requested to add or drop a course, they should have the same classes as they did in August.
If your student has any questions, please have them contact their Teacher Advisor on 1/7/21.
By the time you read this, your Freshman’s first semester of high school will be completed. For those with seniors, it’s on to their final semester at Paly and high school!
In our last Advisory, we scheduled check-in time. We wanted to make sure the TAs and students had a chance to connect for any last-minute questions. During these check-ins, we address questions and discuss as a group. Because many students aren’t comfortable asking their questions while in group, we also make use of zoom break-out rooms. These smaller or individual groupings offer anyone a comfortable option to talk to their TA. If you’d like to see how we facilitate these Advisories, check out the slides from last week here.
Most of our seniors have submitted a majority of their college applications, or are putting the finishing touches on one’s coming due soon. Many are already hearing back from their Early Decision and Early Application colleges. Some students are getting “good” news, others “bad” news. During last week’s Advisory, we talked about next steps for each of those outcomes. For those not happy with the results of these early applications, there are options; many colleges are still accepting applications - check individual college websites for that information. Applying to college doesn’t stop after submitting the application, there are next steps...looking for scholarships might be one. To see exactly what was covered during this important Advisory, click here.
As we reach the end of the semester, we hope our families and students are proud of the work they have done to make it this far. This semester was not easy, but they worked through the challenges and adversity of this year and made it through. And after finals this week, it’s time to enjoy a well-deserved break!
Many of our students may be feeling burned out after a tough year, and that’s understandable. Winter break is the time to slow down, rest and recover. We want to encourage them to use this time to do things that they enjoy, and maybe don’t always have time for during the semester. Maybe that’s doing craft projects, catching up on TV shows or reading for fun—whatever helps to relax and bring joy!
After students have had some time to relax and recover from finals, it can be helpful also to take some time to reflect on this semester. While there were challenges, there are also things we can learn from those challenges. You can help your student reflect by asking them to think about those times when they were stressed. What was the cause of their stress? What could they have used in those moments? Was there anything that helped them make it through?
We all go through periods of stress, even during normal times. When reflecting on their semester, you could also help your child to think of some things they could do now to help their future self out when things become stressful. It can include simple activities like creating a playlist of favorite songs, setting aside time in your planner for yourself, reaching out to friends on a weekly basis. Hobbies that they enjoy can help them to feel a bit more fulfilled and to be a bit more intentional with “me” time. Encourage your child to try a few things out over winter break to see what works for them!
Another thing your child can do to help their future self may include reaching out to the Wellness Center to start talking with someone. Students can fill out the form on our website, or email our staff to get started. While we will be closed during the winter break, we also have resources on our website that can help you find support in the meantime. There, you’ll find links to our Virtual Wellness Center and Calming room, community resources, crisis resources, and more. We have also recently added a Parent/Guardian Risk and Safety Guide for families to reference if their student may be facing a potential mental health emergency. Learn more at tinyurl.com/palywellness.
College and Career Center
Seniors: Paly Community Scholarship Applications - due Jan. 8
Last week in Advisory seniors were introduced to the Paly Community Scholarship program. The sponsors of various community scholarships ask Paly's Scholarship Committee to nominate and/or select students to be considered for/receive awards. To participate in this scholarship program, students must complete the Paly Community Scholarship Application and submit this assignment in Schoology (C&CC Class of 2021 course) by January 8th.
In the past, these scholarships have been the most accessible and lucrative for our students. In previous years, over $100,000 was awarded to Paly students who completed the Community Scholarship Application. Scholarship categories include memorial awards, community service, working students, scholarships for a particular college major (e.g. biology, engineering, business, international relations), 1st generation college students, and under-represented minorities. All students are encouraged to submit an application since both need-based and non-need-based scholarships are available.
Students who want to be considered for need-based scholarships must provide family financial information on the last page of the application; in addition, these applicants are also required to upload a copy of the Student Aid Report or FAFSA confirmation page they receive after filing the FAFSA (both must include the EFC), as a separate assignment. Samples of acceptable EFC documentation can be found in the Paly Community Scholarship folder in the Naviance resources section. Your financial information is confidential. As a guideline for qualification of need, we have typically considered families with incomes of less than $125,000. Should your income exceed this amount, feel free to apply, but be sure to explain any special circumstances. It is important to turn in documents on time; don’t wait until you file your tax returns as the FAFSA using 2019 tax data.
The Paly Community Scholarship Application is often used as a screening application; in some cases students who are selected to move forward will need to complete additional application materials to be considered. Unless contacted by the scholarship sponsors, students are notified that they’ve won an award when they are invited to Paly's Senior Award Night in May.
Please refer to my Oct. 20 email for information about applying for need-based financial aid using the FAFSA. Be sure to check each campus website for deadlines and other forms required in addition to FAFSA, if applicable.
There are numerous other scholarship opportunities that students can pursue on their own; look here for a list of scholarship resources.
Juniors: C&CC Orientation, Post High School Planning Folder Pick-up, and Meetings with College Advisors
All juniors will participate in C&CC orientation during their U.S. History classes at the beginning of second semester to kick off post-high school planning. Students not enrolled in U.S. History can attend orientation with another class, during a prep period. Students without a prep period should contact me to make other arrangements.
Junior families are encouraged to drive by Paly to pick up their Post High School Planning folder in front of the PAC on Wed., Jan. 6 from 8 am - 4 pm or Thurs., Jan. 7 from 8 - 10 am. Please print the name of your junior in large font on an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper; you will hand this to the parent volunteer, to trade for a folder. Please ask your junior to share this folder with you.
After attending orientation, juniors may schedule individual meetings with college and career advisors. Students will be required to first complete the Post High School Planning survey in Naviance; after doing so, they can sign up for a one-hour appointment, directly in Calendly. Details about this process can be found in the C&CC Class of 2022 Schoology course. Students can meet with college advisors during their prep period, after school, and before school on Mondays and Wednesdays. Juniors with quick questions can also sign up in Calendly for a 15-minute appointment with an advisor during brunch and lunch or any non-Junior Advisory. Since the months of April and May are very busy in the C&CC, it is advisable to make an appointment soon after orientation. During the first meeting with a college advisor, we meet with just the student (parents might want to attend subsequent meetings).
What can students expect from the first individual appointment with a college advisor?
Getting to know the student. The Post High School Planning Survey is important for the advisors to have in advance, to prepare for the meeting; it serves as a springboard for discussion.
We will have a copy of the student's transcript.
We will discuss course selection for senior year, college eligibility requirements, and discuss the student's out-of-classroom pursuits and college preferences to direct him/her to resources for researching potential schools. Meetings may lead to some concrete school suggestions and/or recommendations for further exploration.
We will never tell a student not to apply to any given school but will be honest about how to use tools to gather information to estimate the likelihood of admission based on admissions data.
We often distribute handouts relevant to points of our discussion (but avoid redundancy with what was given at orientation). Each student and his/her Teacher Advisor gets a copy of a Follow-Up checklist, a summary and/or to-do list from our meeting.
Paly Guidance wishes you a wonderful winter break!
Upcoming 2021 Events
Mark Your Calendars!
The Guidance Dept will be hosting these upcoming virtual Parent Nights. To join these virtual events, watch for an email via Infinite Campus the Sunday night before the event with the Zoom ID included. At that time, the ID will also be found on the main Paly Google Calendar.