Gunn Together Times

January 22, 2021

Exploring Agency: What is it, why is it important and how can we encourage its growth at Gunn?

Dear Titan Families,

With our second semester well underway, we are doing our best at Gunn to continue to build upon our expertise with regard to effective teaching and learning remotely. During a recent staff meeting, we introduced three areas of focus for action research for us to explore this semester. We are essentially addressing these questions:

  1. What does high-quality student engagement look like, and which instructional strategies have the most impact?
  2. What is evidence of strong teacher/student, staff/student, and student/student relationships, and which instructional strategies, and/or classroom environments create optimal conditions to nurture these connections?
  3. What does student agency look like, and which instructional strategies, and/or classroom environments support student agency?

While most can easily converse about the critical role relationships and student engagement play in student learning, defining and addressing student agency seems more complex, and in many ways builds upon and overlaps with the other two.

In a blog linked below, the author defines agency as "visible evidence of empowered learning." She describes what agency looks like in practice in the following way:

"When my classroom starts buzzing with rich, student-led inquiry, I know that learner agency is high. I'm also aware that many other things are also going right. Provocations have sparked curiosity, invitations (cognitive and interpersonal) have been accepted, collaboration has been fruitful, and teacher guidance has been 'goldilocked' (pitched at a just-right level to keep students striving for understanding)."

As we delve into this often elusive quest (of creating high agency learning environments for students), it may be helpful to reflect on our own experiences of agency.

When was the last time you engaged in empowered learning? What conditions allowed for you to be confident in the face of ambiguity? What prior experiences gave you the confidence to persevere through failures?

In the past few years, I have accumulated experiences of overcoming challenges and independently solving problems in the area of home repairs/improvement. My successes include installing two ceiling fans (not replacing pre-existing ones, but installing one in the ceiling from scratch/Hello!), replacing the thermocouple for the water heater, renting a snake to deal with clogged plumbing, and replacing aged pipes (using a sawzall-pictured above). In every case, my first instinct has been to call in the professionals. Problematically, professionals are expensive. My confident departure from depending on professionals to researching and exploring solutions to these issues on Google, and Youtube, has been reinforced by each successful experience. I now trust my own ability to solve problems effectively, and I am empowered to learn new things in areas that have previously never been in my wheelhouse. These experiences have reinforced my sense of agency.

I look forward to exploring this notion of how we can provoke, promote, support, and nurture student agency as a community this semester.

This newsletter addresses some of the areas that I believe our community is interested in hearing more about. For additional discussion surrounding senior activity planning, testing, summer school, the Hybrid rollout, and other topics, please attend our next Principal's Coffee on Monday evening at 5:30 p.m. I look forward to seeing you on Zoom.


Principal Stratton

Here's the blog link:


MLK once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" I challenge each of you today, to do one thing in the service of another. Do not underestimate your power to change the world with your voice. I call all PAUSD community members to amplify your voice for justice in our schools, classrooms, and community.

21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge Overview

PAUSD is proud to announce the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge! We are excited to bring this opportunity to PAUSD and our community. The Racial Equity 21-Day Challenge is a powerful opportunity for shared learning and growth that invites educators, students, families, and the community at large to develop a deeper understanding of how inequity and racism affect our lives and our community.

Sign up at for the 21-day self-guided learning journey! The challenge officially starts on Feb.1st. Topics include racial identity, intersectionality, race and health, legal system inequity, allyship, and more.

Greetings from Gunn School Board Liaison Jesse Ladomirak

Hello Gunn Community! I am thrilled to be your new School Board liaison.

As a parent of four children in PAUSD, I am acutely aware of how difficult school is right now for students and families, as we all struggle to cope with distance learning. I want to be a resource and partner in creating the best educational experience possible for all of our children--during COVID and beyond. I cannot do my job effectively without your collective wisdom. I will be looking for ways to connect with as many of you as I can, and please do not hesitate to reach out to me as well. I welcome your questions, concerns, and conversation. Sincerely, Jesse Ladomirak

Hybrid Learning Update

Students who originally elected to participate in Hybrid learning this semester are currently being polled to determine how many cohorts per grade level we will support on campus. So far our student responses indicate the need for five potential cohorts of students. The cohorts include two for 9th grade, two for 10th grade, and one combined for the 11th and 12th graders. The plan is for each cohort to attend school two days (either on Tues/Thurs or Wed/Fri) a week. We are currently identifying staff members to supervise the cohorts.

Notifications, including procedural information, will be sent to student cohorts by Tuesday of next week, with an anticipated program rollout on Thursday and Friday.


The Santa Clara Valley Athletic League (SCVAL) acted this week to move away from the proposed Central Coast Section (CCS) two-season sports schedule. The league has prepared a proposal to create a three-season schedule. This means that teams in the SCVAL will not participate in any CCS or State playoffs this year as a trade-off for potentially offering an opportunity for more students to participate in a variety of sports.

The sports have been rearranged in the schedule to give the best possible opportunity for each sport to compete this year according to the tiered system put in place by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF).

The schedule is built upon the hopes and wishes that the pandemic conditions will improve substantially before the end of the year. Please be aware it is likely that some sports will not be able to compete at all. Sports in the purple tier may not participate while a Shelter-in-Place Order is in effect.

The athletic directors are working with the league to develop tentative schedules for each sport. The groupings of sports can be found HERE.

Planning Senior Activities

We have already begun the planning process for end of the school year senior activities, including graduation. Next week, representatives from both Paly and Gunn will be having discussions on activities that we can hopefully provide our seniors before the end of this school year. Student representatives from both schools are also planning combined senior events. I will provide on-going updates as events become finalized.

Upcoming Events

Monday, January 25th:

  • 5:30-6:30 PM, Principal's Coffee

Wednesday, January 27th:

  • 6:30 PM, 8th Grade Parent Info Night


Friday, February 5:

  • Spring Virtual Club Fair

Monday, February 8:

  • TEDxGunnHighSchool “Redefining Normal"

Gunn Foundation Scholarship Application and Board Recruitment

The application for need-based scholarships from the Gunn Foundation is open now to the Class of 2021. The application deadline is March 5. Please visit the Students page on our website to learn how to apply via Going Merry. Gunn Foundation scholarships are based on financial need and help with college expenses like tuition or housing deposits, textbooks, the technology needed for school, and transportation.

Gunn Foundation thanks all our donors who make these scholarships possible.

We are also seeking Trustees for our Board term beginning May 2021. If you would like to become more involved in supporting our students, please inquire at or by visiting our website:

To apply to join the Board, click here.

Quick Links

Quick Links

Gunn High School Website

Gunn PTSA Website

Gunn Student Activities

Gunn Oracle Current Edition


Parent Networks

| 12th Grade Class |

Nisha Datta, Julie Dubrouillet & Laura Wingard

| 11th Grade Class |

Claire Kirner, Leena Gill, & Gunjan Gupta

| 10th Grade Class |

An nie Bedichek, Lili Nova-Roessig, & Mana Uchino

| 9th grade Class |

Elizabeth Lam, Naomi Wang, & Michelle Chen

| Special Ed/Inclusion Rep |

Momo Yanagihara & Yael Uziyel Navel

Palo Alto Partners in Education

Partners in Education (PiE): PiE raises money from parents and the community to provide all Palo Alto Unified School District students an educational experience beyond what is possible with public funding. The 2020-2021 fundraising campaign has begun. See here what PiE funds for Gunn.


The Gunn PTSA supports Gunn high school in many ways such as teacher grants, student activities, fundraising, and organizing volunteers. Please visit the Gunn PTSA website for more information.

Support for Gunn Families

If you are experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, please let your Gunn student's counselor know. If you are struggling to pay for college application fees or other college-related costs, please contact Linda Kirsch at and Leighton Lang at This is a very challenging time for some Gunn families, and the PTSA would like you to know that our community is here for you! We are all in this together and together we will make it through.