Gunn Together Times

December 4, 2020

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The Gunn Wind Ensemble and Chamber Orchestra Performance!

Our Bands, Jazz Bands, and Orchestras held virtual concerts this week! Here are a couple of highligths!

Listen/watch two short highlight pieces:

Gunn Wind Ensemble performing Deus Ex Machina by Randall Standridge

Gunn Chamber Orchestra performing Milonga del Angel by Astor Piazzolla

Greetings Titan Families,

I hope this communication finds you and your family safe and well. As the semester winds down the three guiding principles that we introduced at the start of the school year (self-care, community connection, and racial equity) continue to resonate as our whole community courageously adapts to the changing conditions around us.

Self-care: Prioritizing the well-being of ourselves and those we care about may mean that we will re-imagine hows we connect and celebrate seasonal traditions with our loved ones.

Community Connection: The strength of the Gunn community is evident in our ability to continuously adapt and innovate in the face of challenges. The resilience of our students, staff, and parents shows up in the form of continued care and support for one another, as we enter the season of giving.

Racial Equity: As we do our best to holistically evaluate the best way forward for all of our students, the needs of those who are not necessarily well represented by the whole are of extreme importance. Our district and site administrators, as well as our staff, teachers, student leaders, and parent organizations continue to explore ways to remove barriers, improve access, and create opportunities for all students.

Thank you, Gunn Community, for your sustained confidence and support of our staff and students.


Principal Stratton

Holiday Travel Advisory

Please review the new order regarding travel:

Leisure and non-essential travel are strongly discouraged, and a new Mandatory Directive on Travel will require people to quarantine for 14 days upon return to the County from travel of more than 150 miles. Healthcare workers traveling into the county to provide care or patients traveling into the county to obtain treatment will be exempted from this requirement.

Our SCCPHD clarified that the order is effective November 30. Travel of 150 miles beyond Santa Clara County occurring after November 29 will require a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine. More information regarding staff travel and quarantine will be provided later this week.

Seeking Parent Input

With the reality of staying with distance learning for the second semester, we continue to brainstorm ideas for creating on-campus opportunities for students that we can implement once we are able to bring small cohorts of students on campus. Gunn staff members will participate in a brainstorming session next week to come up with ideas and programs that we can design that fit both the current student need and are aligned with the current restrictions.

We will also be seeking student input in the coming weeks. We would love to hear from parents regarding ideas and activities that you feel would benefit students. You may also submit your thoughts and ideas on our current Monday schedule.

We have created a quick questionnaire for parents who would like to share your thoughts:

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Join Us for Data Night!

Interested parents are invited to join us for Gunn's yearly Data Night event (Monday, December 7, 6:00-8:30 pm,

In mixed groups of students, parents, and staff, we'll be looking at nine important data sets that will allow us to reflect on our site goals in the following areas:

  • high-quality teaching and learning,
  • equity and excellence, and
  • wellness and safety

Participant input will support both the development of our site action plan and inform our WASC self-study process. We would love it if you could join us this year. Please contact Tara Firenzi ( with questions.

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Due to the constantly changing health order restrictions, the administration of the PSAT at Gunn will not be occurring this school year. For those students that anticipated using this assessment to enter the National Merit Scholarship Competition, we have learned of an alternative opportunity for students to enter the NMSC.

In the past, NMSC required that the school send a letter for the student to enter. Instead of sending a letter, students may now submit their SAT scores for exams taken between August 2020 to June 2021 in lieu of the PSAT. For additional information, please review the following document: Alternate Entry to the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program

With the announcement of this new opportunity for students to use their SAT scores for the NMSC, we are looking forward to hosting the SAT for all Gunn Juniors on Tuesday, April 13, 2021. We are hopeful that by this time of the school year, we will have fewer restrictions and be able to host our Juniors on campus for this assessment. I will continue to provide additional information as it becomes available over the next few months.

Superintendent's December 4th Update

The current tentative Board of Education agenda calendar can be found HERE. The Title IX Listening Session is scheduled for Tuesday, December 8, at 5:00 p.m. A panel of pre-selected students will serve as panelist. Assistant Superintendent of Equity and Student Affairs, Yolanda Conaway, will serve as the facilitator. General Counsel, Komey Vishakan, has organized the session and will participate as a panelist. As a Special Board Meeting, public comment is limited to the single topic of Title IX and will follow standard time allotments.

The rapid evolution of information can be confusing for everyone. I have tried to highlight responses to common questions:

  • The new order DOES NOT close school or programs already open.
  • PAUSD elementary schools will remain open and will continue to follow all guidelines from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.
  • Recreational and non-essential travel is discouraged and students traveling more than 150 miles from the Santa Clara County boundaries are expected to self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • Hybrid model families quarantining should contact their school site regarding their academic program.
  • Staff members are also strongly discouraged from recreational travel.
  • The Public Health Department has stated that schools are encouraged to stay open. As such, teachers in our county are not prohibited from returning to work from travel.
  • Again, the order strongly discourages non-essential travel for everyone, including school district staff.
  • PAUSD COVID cases are logged HERE and Personally Identifiable Information (PII) will not be provided.
  • PAUSD will continue to follow stringent notification protocols according to Public Health Department guidelines.
  • PAUSD has experienced no spread of COVID between staff or students.

As of today, December 4, Santa Clara County remains in the Purple Tier. Despite extraordinary preparation efforts, it is now clear that our secondary schools will be prohibited from opening for hybrid instruction. We do not see a viable path for high schools to reopen for hybrid instruction in the second semester. Internally, we are exploring options to create a limited return at the middle school level with a target of March. All plans depend on public health conditions and evolving regulations.

Each of our secondary schools have been asked to begin brainstorming ways to return students to campus when allowed. While hybrid classes at the high school level may be off the table, we still see value in providing opportunities for eager students to return to campus for supports and fun activities. Programs already open may remain open and can expand with some restrictions. We are cultivating a “grass roots” approach to design options for our students at the site level. Our sites will communicate with students who had selected the hybrid option to let them know it is not possible under our current conditions.

The message (below) was sent from the California State Board of Education. It is consistent with our local guidance from the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE).

Dear K-12 Education Stakeholders:

In response to questions we have been receiving regarding the Regional Stay-At-Home Order announced by Governor Newsom this afternoon, we are writing to highlight that the guidance related to K-12 schools remain in effect and unchanged.

As set forth in Section 2(e) of the Order, when it takes effect in a Region, schools that have previously reopened for in-person instruction may remain open, and schools may continue to bring students back for in-person instruction under the Elementary School Waiver Process or Cohorting Guidance.

Schools are still required to follow the Schools Guidance issued by CDPH which outlines requirements for safe conditions, testing, and tracing. Schools may be required to close if certain percentages of staff and students are diagnosed with COVID-19. All existing guidance applicable to schools can be found on the CDPH website.

Please visit the FAQs that continue to be updated for more information.

Thank you, and stay safe.

Brooks Allen
Executive Director
California State Board of Education

Recording of College Counseling Event

Here's the recording of the "New to Colleges in the US" event with Linda Kirsch, Gunn College Counselor, for those who couldn't attend:

RECORDING OF Sophomore Parent Network Event with Cynthia Klein

We had an informative Sophomore Parent Network meeting, on Oct. 28, about communicating effectively with our teens. Anyone can access the recording here (Access Passcode: @6NSsBg7) and the meeting handout here.
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English Book Returns

English book returns/exchanges on a drop-in basis can be done any Monday or Thursday through December 17th between 3:00 & 4:00 PM in the English Office (N100). Any books that are due or overdue may be dropped off at that time.

Affective Factors that Impact Learning

The PAUSD website, Supporting Learning at Home, includes resources that explore the connections between emotions and readiness to learn. Parents and teachers intrinsically know the importance of addressing emotions in order to set the stage for learning. When students feel known and appreciated, they can learn more effectively. This module explores this connection and suggests ways of addressing distance and hybrid learning challenges such as using conversation starters and parent-teacher partnerships. Check out the “Affective Factors that Impact Learning” to learn more.

Registration for the 2021-2022 school year opens on January 4, 2021

Families with children who are not currently enrolled with PAUSD, and want to enroll a child to attend a PAUSD school starting in August 2021, must follow all the instructions at the PAUSD Enrollment web site starting on January 4: If you have any questions about if you should enroll your child, please send an email to

Holiday Donation Drive for the Ecumenical Hunger Program

Please consider supporting our students and the Ecumenical Hunger Program as they engage in this holiday service project!

-Principal Stratton

Gunn's Dream Volunteers Club is organizing a holiday donation drive for the Ecumenical Hunger Program in East Palo Alto until Saturday, December 19th. We are collecting canned/dry foods, toiletries, Christmas gifts, gift cards, and more. The full wishlist from EHP and all the information is here:

We have drop-off boxes at Gunn's front office and at two student houses (one in Barron Park and one near Mitchell Park). For the addresses, please email! We are incredibly grateful for your support and we hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season!

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Supporting Learning at Home

Educational Tech. Platforms and Tools

Understanding the multiple tools students use for distance learning can be challenging. The resources provided on the PAUSD website, Supporting Learning at Home on the Educational Technology: Platforms and Toolspage, are intended to give parents and guardians an introduction to the most important learning tools in PAUSD including Infinite Campus, Schoology, Zoom, Clever, and Seesaw (PK-3rd grade). Every day students should begin school by logging on to Rapid Identity, PAUSD’s single sign-on portal, at Parents and guardians should also access all PAUSD tools and apps from as well. For technology questions or support please submit help tickets through Let’s Talk from the PAUSD website:

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Athletics Upate

Those of us who were student-athletes in high school know how important athletics can be for one's overall well-being and academic success. We deeply hope that conditions will eventually allow us to re-open our sport's programs, and encourage all families to support students in finding alternative outlets.


  • No Gunn athletic programs are currently conditioning (until possibly 12/21 pending County orders).
  • All contact sports have been shut down until further notice (water polo, volleyball, and football).
  • Our gyms and weight rooms are currently shut down.
  • We are awaiting communication from the California Interscholastic Federation and the Central Coast Section regarding possible start dates for all sports.

Upcoming Events

Monday, December 7

Data Night--6:00-8:30 pm,

Mondays or Thursdays Through December 17

English Book Returns--between 3:00 & 4:00 PM in the English Office (N100)

Thursday, January 14

Next Principal's Coffee--9:00 am

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.

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.

Gunn Foundation

Support Gunn Students via the Gunn Foundation

Since 1968, the Gunn Foundation has been granting need-based scholarships to college-bound seniors in the Gunn community. Scholarships fund essential expenses— deposits, textbooks, fees, and college costs that are often unmet by aid packages. Especially now with the impact of COVID, Gunn Foundation scholarships can make a huge difference in the future of a Gunn student.

Look for the Gunn Foundation on Step 4 of the online back-to-school packet or visit our website ( and consider making a donation to support a Gunn student. Your support, at any level, will truly make a difference.