Paly Community Update

Friday, August 20, 2021

Our start of school, last week at Paly, might just be the most amazing first days of any school year that I have ever experienced. A big highlight of our first day of school was the Spirit Assembly we held first thing in the morning. I was worried that the students would not get to the stadium in time, but to my surprise they were all there--early--filling the stadium with the echo of Sko Vikes! A significant amount of the energy came from our seniors, who have been waiting a very long time to put on those camouflage outfits and prove who has the most school spirit!

Most of the schedule for the week centered around giving our students time to play. Kids love play and it is a central component of their social and emotional development. After over a year of not being able to just be kids and play, it was important to make this a part of their reintroduction to being around each other, especially in a large setting of people. As I watched our students during the morning activities, at the assembly, during the lunch BBQ and other lunch and after school activities, it seemed that their opportunity to just play had a magical effect of taking away some of the stress and pressures of their recent life. I believe allowing this time for play was part of our successful efforts of helping our students positively adjusting back to the school setting.

Another positive aspect of our first days of school was the excellent preparation that the Paly staff did to provide a welcoming and safe environment in our classrooms and events around campus. In my observations in classrooms and around campus, I consistently observed relationship-based activities that allowed students to share something about themselves and their experiences, while building strong connections among both peers and adults. I am full of gratitude, ecstatic with joy, and thankful to the entire Paly community for making our first days of this school year such a positive start for our students and staff.


P.R.I.M.E--Personal, Reteaching, Intervention, Mentoring, Enrichment

Our weekly PRIME period is an opportunity for our students to connect with teachers in order to get help with their classroom, engage in enrichment activities, read or do independent work, and test make up opportunities. Student attendance will be taken during PRIME, just like any other class and students with a 7th period prep will be expected to attend. Initially, students will be asked to attend and stay in one location for the entire period and all teachers will be available to students during this time period. Students also have the option to go to alternative spaces including our testing center, library, Wellness Center or Guidance Department (by appointment only). We anticipate that we will be able to add additional options for students in the near future.

Paly Principal Advisory Committee

I shared with all Paly students today an opportunity to participate in the Principal Advisory Committee (PAC). I am providing parents with the same information so that you are aware of an opportunity for your student to get involved at Paly. Here is some highlights:

  • The purpose of the Principal’s Advisory Committee (PAC) is to have an open dialogue between members of the student body and the Principal. Information will be shared with the Principal about students’ learning and social experiences at Paly. This committee will allow students with an additional communication link between the students and staff and will also provide students with an opportunity to make recommendations in regards to instructional needs, building concerns, and creating a positive learning environment.

  • The PAC will meet once a month during lunchtime. Lunch will be provided to students during our meetings. The PAC will be made up of 4 students from each grade level.

  • Application and Interview:

    • All students interested in participating in the PAC must complete an application and submit it by Monday, August 30, 2021 at 3:00 pm.

    • Interviews will be held the week of August 30th and September 6th

Virtual Back to School Night

We will be hosting a Virtual Back to School Night this year on Thursday, September 2nd from 6:00 - 8:00 pm. During this event, parents will have the opportunity to "meet" faculty and be introduced to their classrooms via LIVE Zoom Meetings. Additional information and Zoom links will be sent in the coming weeks ahead.

Guidance Updates

Advisory Update

Welcome back to a new school year! We hope the activities offered on the opening days helped your students as they returned to campus and rejoined their friends for what we hope is a great year.

During the first two days of school, we hosted hour-long Advisories. We wanted to offer the opportunity to talk,reconnect, and just acclimate to being back. The TAs used many icebreaker activities to help the students reacquaint themselves with each other and Paly. TAs reported the scavenger hunt was a huge success and helped orient students to campus as a majority of Sophomores and Freshman are attending classes in person for the first time.

One of the first things you might notice about Advisory is our new model! Students will now stay with their 9th grade Advisor for 10th grade as well. They will be assigned a new TA at the start of 11th grade. This will help students become more familiar with their TA as well as the other students within their cohort allowing for more meaningful and authentic conversations during Advisory class. All returning Paly students will have the same TA they had last year. We believe this will help transition our students back to campus and further build connection with someone they already know. The 9th and & 10th grade students will work on cultivating important life skills, social/emotional exploration, how to be successful in high school, and where to go for help. The 11th and 12th grade students will focus on post Paly planning, the college application process, college testing, and creating a resume, to name just a few.

We have spent several years examining our Advisory program and exploring the best ways to enhance the experience for students. Our decision to adopt this model came after extensive research and the work of an Advisory Committee comprised of Administration, a school counselor, the program coordinator, and Teacher Advisors. Last year we hosted a Student Advisory Committee with students from each grade level to hear their thoughts on current lessons, understand what subjects/themes they would like discussed in Advisory while also satisfying the criteria for what needs to be covered as part of our Guidance system. We will continue to host monthly meetings with this committee to gather feedback and ideas as we move forward.

10th grade students in the Social Justice Pathway (SJP) will stay with their current TA and move to the SJP Advisors when entering 11th grade.

Grade Level Parent Nights

Each year, we host several Parent Nights. The ones held in the Fall are full of information about what to expect that year. Parent Nights will be held virtually - a link to each webinar will be provided in an email prior to the event and can be found on the chart below.

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Here’s some of what will be covered:

For Seniors (Sept 8)

  • Wellness

  • Post High School Options

  • College Application Process

  • How an applicant is evaluated

  • Teacher Advisor Letter vs Teacher Letter

  • Early Decision vs Early Action

  • Selecting Colleges

For Sophomores (Sept 15)

  • Wellness Programs & Services

  • The Three -Tiered Guidance Program

  • Graduation vs. College Eligibility

  • Paly Resources

  • Post High-School Options

  • Important Events and Meetings

  • College Testing

For Juniors (Sept 29)

  • Graduation vs. College Eligibility

  • Post High-School Options

  • College Testing

  • Types of Colleges

  • College Eligibility Requirements & admissions

  • Letters of Recommendation

  • How applicants are evaluated

For Freshman (Oct 8th)

  • Wellness Programs and Services

  • The Three-Tiered Guidance Program

  • Graduation vs. 4-yr College Minimum Eligibility

  • The Typical Freshman Schedule

  • Paly Resources

College and Career Center Updates

Appointments with College Advisors

To request a first appointment, seniors must first complete and submit the Post HS Planning survey in Naviance. Seniors may sign up for a 60-minute advising appointment with their assigned College Advisor, using Calendly:

  • If your last name begins with the letters A - K, your Advisor is Ms. Cernobori:

  • If your last name begins with the letters L - Z, your Advisor is Ms. Cochrane:

First appointments are for students, only. Parents are welcome to participate in repeat appointments, via Zoom.

First appointments are for students, only. Parents are welcome to participate in repeat appointments, via Zoom.

College Rep Visits for Seniors

College reps will schedule 40-minute visits to Paly during school block periods. Seniors must obtain prior permission from their teacher to miss class to attend. Students must register in Naviance to attend rep visits and email their teacher a URL to complete a Google form; please look under "Students: Attend College Representative Visits at Paly" on for more details. If it's a virtual visit, students will bring their laptop to the C&CC conference room to participate from here (i.e. “Zoom from the room”). Capacity is limited due to COVID restrictions; students need to register well in advance and no later than 24-hours before the visit.

Note: some of the entries in the Naviance College Visit list and the calendar (typically those scheduled before 9 am and after the last school bell or on weekends) are "off campus" info sessions or interview opportunities. These events usually require separate registration--not through Naviance. Expand the visit entry in Naviance (or the calendar on to display the college's external registration link. The URL to join the visit will *not* be in Naviance; you'll receive it directly from the college, after registering for the event.

The full list of all visits currently scheduled is in Naviance; login to Naviance and from the Home screen scroll to the “What’s New” section. Or, you can check the calendar on

Parents are not permitted to attend college representative visits.

Community Service

The Paly Community Service team welcomes you to the new school year. Here are some clarifying processes and tools used for tracking Community Service at Paly and verifying hours for the President's Volunteer Service Award (PVSA).

HelperHelper is the only online application used to track community service hours. Using this tool as well as performing community service at Paly is completely voluntary – there is not a Community Service graduation requirement although individual classes may require some form of community service.

For more information, please visit Paly's Community Service Page.

Fall 2021 PVSA and deadlines for submitting community service:

The necessary google forms will be opened on or before September 1, 2021 on Community Service page.

SENIORS ONLY (Class of 2022):

The deadline for submitting your request for transcript hours and/or a Fall 2021 PVSA is Tuesday, September 15, 2021.

Visit for the required google form and instructions. There is an OPT OUT if you do not want your community service hours recorded on your transcript, see the Community Service page for instructions.

Juniors (Class of 2023) and Sophomores (Class of 2024):

Deadline for submitting a request for Fall 2021 PVSA: September 29, 2021.

Visit for the required google form and instructions.

Freshmen (Class of 2025): The HelperHelper accounts for freshmen will be activated by September 1st. A message will be sent to school ( email accounts directly from HelperHelper. This email includes instructions on how to access and get started with HelperHelper. Once the HelperHelper account is activated, freshmen can enter their volunteer hours that were performed starting June 4, 2021.

Deadline for submitting a request for Fall 2021 PVSA: September 29, 2021.

Work Experience

Work Permits:

Work permits must be renewed within 5 days at the start of each school year, so start the re-submission process now by completing this B1-1 document again. Then, email the completed form to (do not include your social security #). Thanks for your cooperation as this keeps your job site in compliance & informs PAUSD of who is actively working. More info can be found here.

Job Opportunities:

Many of our local vendors are actively hiring - review this Job Vendor slidedeck for current positions, and a job fair will be held this fall - details to follow. Further inquiries may be sent directly to the Work Experience Teacher Rachael Kaci:

Wellness Center Update

The Paly Wellness Center is excited to welcome students back to campus! The Wellness Center at Paly, located in the Tower Building, provides a safe and supportive environment where students can discuss a variety of topics in a confidential, nonjudgmental space. The center is staffed with professionals who are dedicated to improving the health, well-being, and educational outcomes of all students. Through both on-campus programming and community-based partnerships, students receive coordinated health education, assessment, counseling and other support services to maximize student engagement and success.

Students can utilize the Wellness Center to get connected to a therapist for drop-in or ongoing support, take a 15-minute break, grab a snack and tea, access mental health and wellness resources, and more. Students who would like to get connected to a therapist can drop-in to the Wellness Center (open 8:30am-4:15pm) or complete the Paly Wellness Center Appointment Request form. Students and parents may also contact Paly’s Mental Health and Wellness Coordinator, Elizabeth Spector, at

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