Congratulations to the class of 2020! I enjoyed learning from you and listening to your intelligent viewpoints. This year's graduations were not anywhere near what we were expecting or envisioning when we started the school year, but they turned out to be very special and wonderful in their own way - certainly a graduation to remember for a lifetime!
While the young student in this photo was smiling only at a photographer, without an audience, her smile captures the essence of what I saw over and over again at last week's diploma pick-up events. Students with pride, a sense of accomplishment, resiliency, and an optimism about the future. I want to extend my gratitude to our students who helped us create the best experience possible and wish the Class of 2020 the best, we will miss you.
There is a saying I love that seems to sum up how our teachers, students, and families have concluded this school year - "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out" - from former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. Wooden, nicknamed the "Wizard of Westwood”. He won 10 NCAA national championships in a 12-year period as head coach, including seven in a row when no other team had ever won more than four in a row. His perseverance, patience, commitment, and leadership allowed his team to focus on the critical fundamentals necessary for success. Our MVLA community has demonstrated these same qualities as we manage the impacts of this historic pandemic.
As a nation, the pandemic is not the only struggle we are facing. Our community is tackling the national conversation about racism and race relations, following the tragic death of George Floyd and many other people of color. We will continue to address the impacts of racism when we return to school. Perseverance, patience, commitment, and leadership will be important as this conversation continues.
I thank our entire MVLA community for their flexibility, patience, and creativity as we dealt with the closures of schools and the launch of distance learning. As we continue planning toward various scenarios for next year, we are doing so with a highly-committed Task Force and several Advisory Teams. You will read more below.
I look forward to working together during these challenging times.
Our Reopening and Redesign Task Force is hard at work developing plans for the various scenarios we may be facing when reopening our campuses for the 2020-2021 school year, including full distance learning, a hybrid - blending distance learning with select on-campus or in-classroom experiences, and a full return with restrictions.
While we want to be clear that our hope would be to have a physical return to our campuses, we still cannot predict what we'll be facing when it comes to reopening our schools in August. We have asked the County for some more definitive go/no-go guidance, and we are hoping to have some answers in early July. We will be giving letter grades for the 2020-2021 school year.
As we started our planning in May, we identified three essential questions to answer:
- What worked well in our Spring 2020 experiences for students and staff?
- What needs improvement?
- How do we measure the impact of our work?
Our task force and its advisory teams have been meeting with respective stakeholders and content area experts to ask these questions, listen, and analyze needs in these categories:
- Technology and Facilities
- Instruction, Curriculum, and Assessment
- Counseling and Therapeutic Services
- Teacher Support and Training
- Student Support and Training
- Special Education
- Alternative Education and Continuation Programs
- Adult Education Programs
We are also addressing with these groups the following:
- What is needed right now?
- What is needed over the summer as we prepare for reopening?
- What will be needed once schools open?
None of these are simple questions, and the answers won't be simple either, but as the task force gathers this information, it will begin to synthesize it to help establish priorities, and develop plans for reopening.
We are also working on identifying technology support that will provide consistency, equity and access for all students, and be responsive to the need for educational excellence.
As we develop these plans, we are having focus groups with parents to solicit input on the planning process. As we develop more precise drafts, we''ll be reaching out more widely to students, families, and the community to comment and provide input.
We encourage you to review recent presentations to our Board of Education on the ongoing planning efforts:
We are starting a new web section related to the reopening planning and will share that with you once it is posted.
WEBINAR ON 2020-2021 REOPENING
As one way of providing our community information about the planning for next year, and the work of our task force, we held a live webinar Wednesday, moderated by MVLA Superintendent Nellie Meyer. The recorded webinar is available here.
There were several topics covered, including:
- Creating a strong, robust academic program in the event of distance learning/hybrid model, ensuring educational equivalency with in-person instruction
- Grading - traditional grading will return but students will have a credit/no credit option as per our Board policy
- Extra wellness support
- Safety and hygiene plans and preparation
- Continued college readiness resources
- Training and professional development for teachers, including on strategies for more effectively building community and engaging students in a distance learning environment
- Technology training and support for students
- Ensuring educational equivalency
We are already planning to have follow-up webinars in July and August, and will share the date and time with the community once these plans are finalized.
At our end of the year meeting on June 15, the Board of Trustees took action or had presentations on a number of important topics, including:
- Approval of the final 2020-2021 budget
- Completion of COVID-19 Operations Written Report (OWR) for our LCAP
We also had a comprehensive report on our reopening for the Fall of 2020. More than 100 MVLA staff are involved in the prioritization of our necessary actions as we continue to prepare for a variety of possible scenarios. You can view the presentation here. A job description for a proposed new position - Distance Learning Administrator - was also shared at the meeting.
SUMMER ENRICHMENT PORTAL
Explore the links, check out the resources, and have a wonderful summer!
FREE MEAL PROGRAM EXTENDED THROUGH SUMMER
The free 'grab and go' meals MVLA has been distributing in partnership with the Mountain View Whisman School District (MVWSD) is continuing through the summer. Free meals will be distributed to students age 18 and younger; no IDs are required. These pre-prepared cold meals include a breakfast, lunch and dinner. They are being distributed at Gabriela Mistral Elementary, 505 Escuela Ave., Mountain View 94040.
Please note, the meal service will be closed on Friday, July 3. All meals for July 3-5 will be given to families on Thursday, July 2. View flyer (English and Spanish)
We'd like to thank the Food Services staff of both districts for their hard work making sure all MVLA and MVWSD families have food in these uncertain times. Since the school closures, these dedicated staff have prepared and distributed more than 205,000 meals to local families. Their dedication helps ensure that, by feeding children's bodies, we're also feeding minds, especially important during times of food insecurity for so many in our area.
A number of MVLA students and student groups have supported food drives to benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank. One started by the Los Altos High School ASB is still operating - the $5 for Ten Meals Campaign. Be sure to check out the students' video promoting the campaign.
SUMMER COLLEGE ADVISING PROGRAM FOR THE CLASS OF 2021
Just in time for MVLA's Class of 2021 - a Summer Advising Program! College advising meetings will be available through July 30 with MVLA College Advisor Angela Price for rising seniors and their families. Angela will be able to help students identify their best college fit, create a college list, and develop a solid academic profile, taking into account limitations students may have had this spring due to sheltering-in-place and the pandemic.
Students can sign up for appointments via Zoom in June and July. Once signed up, students are asked to complete this form prior to their appointments. Students can also do a 'quick question drop-in' via Zoom, Monday through Thursday, from noon - 1 p.m. Log in here - and use password 7ACXf0.
Rising seniors can also take advantage of great summer workshops on college application essays, coordinated just for MVLA students:
UC Essay Writing Workshops
Guest Speaker: Melanie David, Assistant Director of Admissions at UC Davis
- Tips for the college essay writing process
- Strategies for using your own voice
- How to highlight your personality, skills, and leadership
- Tips on how to make the most of the UC's 350-word limit
Common Application Essay Workshop
Guest Speaker: Julian Tamayo, Senior Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Yale University
- Picking an essay topic that is meaningful to you
- How to make your essay stand out
- Importance of getting feedback
The session will be offered August 11 at 2 p.m. - registration link will be coming soon.
We recently held a webinar on the College Admissions process. The recorded session is available here. If you have any questions about any of these upcoming workshops or the advising sessions, please email Angela at email@example.com.
Thanks to the MVLA High School Foundation for its sponsorship of these webinars and the Summer Advising Program. Be sure to check out the Foundation's college and career planning resources for links to virtual college tours and a countdown to college.
WELCOME NEW MOUNTAIN VIEW HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL
For veteran educator Michael Jimenez, being appointed as the next principal for Mountain View High School is a perfect fit with his appreciation of secondary students.
“Many times, people believe teenagers, especially intelligent ones, no longer need our guidance because they seem so self-sufficient - and many times they can be - but the reality is they still need our guidance and support. We want to build opportunities so they can instill confidence in themselves to overcome setbacks when they occur and succeed,” said Jimenez, who takes over the role July 1.
“I want to help kids understand their learning potential and what they have to offer our global society,” he said. “I want to help parents and the community learn how to unleash the potential of our curious, open-minded, inspirational students. As an administrator of high school students, I have witnessed this potential and it is extremely inspiring and it drives me to help students succeed.”
We thank and appreciate the many people who participated in our ThoughtExchange hub as part of the process of recruiting and hiring process for the principal position.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
Congratulations to the MVLA high school seniors have been named winners of the College-Sponsored Merit Scholarships, part of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).
Officials of each sponsor college selected their winners from among the Finalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program who plan to attend their institution. These awards provide between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years or undergraduate study. MVLA students honored include:
- Jessica Aaron, Los Altos High School, Probable Field: Law
- Sarah J. Yung, Los Altos High School, Probable Field: Mechanical Engineering
Jessica and Sarah were chosen from a pool of more than 15,000 student finalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program. Their awards come on the heels of six MVLA students winning scholarships last month as recipients of the National Merit $2500 Scholarship. Congratulations Jessica and Sarah!
Congratulations are in order for MVHS students Nitin Kumar and Henry Wang who both qualified - after MULTIPLE steps - for the United States Online Mathematical Olympiad (USOMO), sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). The Olympiad event will be held June 19 and 20.
In order to qualify for the Olympiad, both students had to be among the top scorers on the 38th annual American Online Invitational Mathematics Examination (AOMIE), held on June 6.
Nitin, a senior bound for MIT, and Henry, a sophomore, both scored 12 out of 15. This is pretty amazing considering only 0.05% of students qualify for this honor. Here is the official solutions guide if you'd like to see how you'd do with the questions these talented mathematicians took on.
The MASS is the world's largest community of mathematicians, students, and math enthusiasts, hoping to further understanding of our world through math as a driver and shaper of society. .
As Archimedes said..."Mathematics reveals it secrets only to those who approach it with pure love, for its own beauty." Please join us in congratulating Nitin, Henry, their MVHS teachers, and their instructors at Foothill College, for pursuing the beauty in mathematics!
DISTANCE LEARNING HIGHLIGHTS
When Adam Randall, a Physics teacher at Los Altos High School and advisor for the school’s Astrophotography Club, had the chance to purchase some equipment for the club using funds from an Innovative Learning Grant from the MVLA High School Foundation, he jumped at the chance. Cameras, filters, mounts, guide scopes – everything that could be needed to advance students’ efforts in astrophotography.
Junior and club member Aaron Kleidermacher was permitted to take some of the equipment home to practice astrophotography, and in a pandemic-induced quarantine, had the time for lots of trial and error…and success in finally using two cameras simultaneously to image deep space objects.
“The process seems simple enough conceptually, but the logistics of software and hardware configuration is very complex, time consuming, and frustrating,” said Randall. “Luckily, Aaron’s grit and cleverness paid off, and he was able to capture some really impressive images."
Kleidermacher’s astrophotography images include some dramatic shots of the Andromeda Galaxy, the Eagle Nebula, and the Western Veil Nebula. Being able to take these images successfully is part of a long-time love for all things astral.
“I've always had an ambition for space. Ever since I was a kid, I have been fascinated with stories of the Apollo program and the more recent Shuttle program. Seeing pictures and videos of some of these momentous occasions, especially that of Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon, and the final launch of Shuttle Atlantis in 2011, something I was privileged to witness live, has always given me a sense of awe,” said Kleidermacher. “It's incredible to me that we, as simple humans, are able to create vehicles that take us into the literal void.”
MVLA HAS HEART
Over the last several years, the Latino Outreach Team at Los Altos High School has joined forces with students and community members to help support families for whom English is not their native language in navigating the school system and being engaged in their students' pathways for success. Members of the counseling department, the LUCHA parent organization, the Latino Student Union, and many other staff members and community members have been involved.
Once schools were closed, the Outreach Team launched into greater action, knowing families would need additional support. They held a Zoom meeting in March with experts from the local community who could provide information about housing and utilities. The meeting lasted over two hours and was attended by more than 50 people. A second meeting was held, town hall-style, allowing families to ask questions.
As a result of these meetings, a Go Fund Me account was set up to help families with basic needs. More than $26,000 has been raised, much of which was donated by generous Los Altos High staff members. The funds have been used to purchase Safety and Target gift cards for families in need, along with other vital financial support needs.
Oh, the places they'll go! This fall, graduates from Los Altos and Mountain View high schools will become part of the freshman class at nearly 200 colleges and universities around the globe. Check out this year's College Destinations Map (with a big shout-out to LAHS Registrar Mary Donohue for her beautiful work in creating this informative graphic).
Data on 2020 grad plans was gathered by our College and Career Centers, which are fully funded by donations to the MVLA High School Foundation. The MVLA Foundation is pleased to support a variety of enrichment and support programs, in addition to college and career readiness support. Nearly $1.9 million was raised for this school year. Thanks to all volunteers and donors for their support.
PARENT EDUCATION SPEAKER SERIES
As we wrap up the 2019 - 2020 school year, unusual as it is, we would like to thank all of our supporters of the MVLA Parent Education Speaker Series. Without your financial support and enthusiastic attendance, we would not be able to bring this program to over 3,000 people in our community.
A huge THANK YOU to our funding organizations:
- Los Altos Educational Foundation
- Mountain View Educational Foundation
- Mountain View Los Altos High School Foundation
- Los Altos Mountain View PTA Council
During the 2019-20 school year, the MVLA Speaker Series hosted seven events. As the school year took a sharp turn in March with the shelter-in-place due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Speaker Series volunteer team pivoted to host the final two speakers online via Zoom. Both events were recorded and many families within our three school districts have been able to view the live or recorded presentations.
As we plan for the many unknowns of the upcoming 2020-21 school year, we have reduced our funding request from each sponsor, are working with speakers to host events either in-person or streamed live via Zoom, and are focusing on topics/speakers focused on supporting student wellness. We received a grant from Fremont Bank and Los Altos Community Foundation to fund a speaker to work with teachers and staff on social and emotional learning.
We are excited about our tentative lineup of authors/speakers for 2020-21:
Jeff Selingo, “Who Gets In and Why - A Year Inside College Admissions”
Marc Brackett, “Permission to Feel”
Michael Reichert, “How to Raise a Boy”
Phyllis Fagell, “Middle School Matters”
Bill Stixrud/Ned Johnson, new book on communication from the authors of “The Self-Driven Child”
Tina Bryson, “The Power of Showing up”
Thank you for your continued support of the MVLA Parent Education Speaker Series. We look forward to seeing you at our events in the new school year.
At MVHS, an HVAC and roof replacement project is underway for Building 100 with an expected completion in early August. Seismic reinforcement and a restroom modernization in the 200 and 300 wings is also underway; expected completion is in late August.
Neighbors of the district office will notice some activity there this summer as well. A roof replacement project is getting underway, along with the relocation of five portable buildings. Both projects are expected to be completed in July.
At MVHS, steel erection continues for one building, and the wood framing is nearly completed for the other classroom building wings.
At LAHS, structural steel is being erected and bolted. Welding and decking will take place over the next few weeks. The rebar crew in the foreground is installing slab ties for the building footings.
Foundation workers have been installing bolts and bolt templates for the steel columns for Los Altos' auxiliary gymnasium building.
We've just posted positions for an Administrative Assistant and Senior Staff Secretary. We're also looking to hire coaches for Girls Varsity Basketball and Boys Varsity Wrestling, both at LAHS. We also have several positions open in our Adult Education program - a great place to work - and, as always, we are recruiting year-round for one-to-one Instructional Assistant positions.
June 17, 2020
Special Closed Session
The Board of Trustees is reviewing calendars to tentatively add another Board meeting in June, as well as one in early July. The dates will be publicized once final.
August 10, 2020
Regular Meeting - Board of Education
August 12, 2020
First Day of School - 2020-2021 School Year