PHS Update

March 26th, 2018

Welcome back from Spring Break - sorry to share some very bad news

Hope everyone had a good Spring Break and is ready to go for the final weeks of the year. Sadly, I just got word from Eric Backman that our colleague, Tom Griffin, at Casa Grande passed away. I don't have any further details but am sure we will learn more soon. Tom was a remarkable teacher and last year's Teacher of the Year. He truly gave his all for students. If you had a chance to work with him, you'll know his level of integrity and sheer brilliance. We will miss you Tom...

Below are a few details to get us going after Spring Break:

Don't forget the Earthquake drill on Mar 27th (see Gio's email + summary below):

Notify substitute teachers in the event that you are not at school that day.

March 27th - Earthquake Drill: 11:00am

We will evacuate to the field. The incident command teams should check in with the Operations table. We will bring out supplies and discuss procedural changes to IC location.

Wednesday is a Staff Meeting starting at 2:20pm in the Library

Tentative agenda:

Below is the parent Trojan Update, going out shortly.

Student Voice and the Emergence of Spring

All right! We are headed back to school amidst the signs of spring. Ahead of us is state testing, Mr GQ, the band/choir trip to New Orleans, HOSA and SkillsUSA conferences, AP exams, car show and yearbook distribution, prom, and eventually graduation. It will be fast and furious and here we go...!

But first, I'd like to reflect on the past week and the remarkable voices of our students. Back on Wednesday, March 14th, our students, led by Tallulah Lefkowitz and Annika Schmidt among many others, organized themselves and demonstrated their collective power to stand for an issue and make their voice heard. At 10AM, students gathered in the quad and listened briefly to two student speakers, then together, stood in silence for 17 minutes. It was truly powerful to stand with them (see short video clip below).

Then a smaller group of 150 or so gathered in the Multi to listen to a panel of speakers. Sergeant Ron Klein of the PPD spoke about how the police department works on school related issues and what they are seeing on the streets. He also implored the students to get to know one another and continue to build the community of the school. He was followed by Professor Michael Nagler from the Metta Center for Non-Violence. Professor Nagler spoke eloquently about the world we live in, the principles of Gandhi and the continuing search for non-violent solutions to problems. A few students then posed some questions to the panel before the program ended and students returned to class.

I should note that a group of students also shared their support for Second Amendment rights that morning. They stood in silence with the student body in memory of the 17 students and staff killed at Parkland, then respectfully shared their point of view. I was as proud of them as I was of the hundreds of thousands of students who marched yesterday in Washington DC and across the country, urging limitations on firearms. Our students together demonstrated a path to the kind of conversation necessary to a common path forward.

Later in the week, I had a conversation with Mr. Dawsari, department chair in Social Science and a highly esteemed colleague. He related a conversation that had taken place in class and I asked him to write a short summary:

When news of the 3/14 student walk-out first broke, a few students in my class were unhappy with what they felt was being turned into a politically motivated stunt. They felt it was less about mourning the loss of life in Parkland, Florida, less about a reaction against violence in schools, and more about promoting an anti-gun policy.

When Tallulah (Lefkowitz) spoke at our staff meeting about her goal for the 3/14 walk-out, I thought that some good could come from introducing her to the students who were unhappy about the walk-out. My hope was that after speaking with each other they could - if not agree - at least understand each other's perspective.

The two sides met and spoke during tutorial last week. It seemed that both had come to the table with preconceived expectations as to what the other side intended. And while they don't share the same political stance, they were able to set that aside and agree on one thing: violence doesn't belong at school.

What I saw gives me hope: two sides that - in adults - seems so intractable, was easily addressed with a face-to-face meeting. These "kids" cut through the noise that distracts us all and reached an accommodation. That should give us all hope.

One of the reasons I went into teaching and education was the knowledge that youthful minds still retain flexibility. My own hope is that our students, as part of the collective youth of the nation, can work together to find a common goal that respects the safety of citizens. This week, they asserted themselves and found their voice. One day, the history books may look back at Parkland as the day American youth woke up.

Please read on for other news! Have a great week!

CAASPP Testing Coming in April

This year, we will be testing Juniors in Math, English and Science, and all Seniors in Science. It is important that all students have a chance to test in order to provide EAP scores for college AND to measure our progress as a school. Makeup testing will be offered, but please help us by making sure that our student is well rested and has a good breakfast on test days. THANK YOU!

See the Petaluma High School website for more or click on the link below:

Important Counseling Info: Online Courses + SRJC Summer

If your student is either currently enrolled in an online class or considering one for next school year, please keep the following things in mind. Online classes taken outside of PHS are not monitored by counselors or any PHS staff, so it is the responsibility of the parents to monitor work and progress towards completion. For seniors, classes should be finished up by Friday, May 18th (including taking the final) so that there is time to have the work graded and a final transcript sent to the counseling department. Please remember that online classes are not great for everyone's learning styles and sometimes even bright students struggle in an online environment. When classes are taken through PHS directly, we are able to provide more support via the teachers and the counselors, and when it comes to AP classes, the teachers are trained to prepare the students for the AP tests in the spring and the curriculum is supported through college board. Although online appeals to many, it is important to consider your student's individual needs and make sure that the plan is communicated to your student's counselor.

SRJC info:

Are you interested in taking a SRJC class in summer 2018 or fall 2018? The schedule is available now and concurrent registration forms are due to SRJC BEFORE students can register. Registration starts Thursday, April 26th. Please review the steps to enroll in a SRJC Class:

  1. Look at online schedule:
  2. Create an online SRJC account and get Student ID# (9 digit number)
  3. Complete concurrent enrollment form and get ALL required signatures
  4. Take any placement tests needed for prerequisite (English, Math, Science & Language classes):
  5. Turn form into SRJC Admissions & Records BEFORE you register
  6. Register online during priority registration
  7. Show counselor proof of registration

The Spring Means it's Time for League Contests

Across the sports, the return from Spring Break means a full slate of league match ups. Check the website for upcoming events:

Of note, the varsity baseball squad travels to the prestigious Boras Tournament (see article) while varsity girls softball kicks off league versus Elsie Allen and El Molino.

Important Upcoming Dates

Don't forget the following dates:

  • March 26th - Athletic Booster Meeting

  • March 28th - Staff Meeting

  • March 30th - Spanish 3 Field Trip to Loma Vista

  • April 2nd - PTSA

  • April 4th - Department Wednesday

  • April 4th - PHS Westside Band Festival

  • April 5th - Principal's Tour 1pm

  • April 5th - FFA Drive Thru BBQ!

  • April 5th/6th - HOSA Leadership Conference

  • April 7th - Mr GQ in Multi

  • April 9th - Legal Studies Field Trip to Alcatraz

  • April 12-15th - PHS Band and Choir Trip to New Orleans

Missing Doc Sisler

When I started at PHS a few years ago, a football game at Petaluma High meant a chance to visit with Doc Sisler. For decades, he was a presence on the sideline, taking care of kids and making sure they were fit to play. He also had a great wit and was all in all a true Trojan. Among many others, I will miss Doc Sisler a great deal. (see article below).

Varsity Lacrosse at the New Ellison Field this week

Big picture


Rather than copy and paste from our website as I've done in the past, let's use our website as the main form of reminder as to what is coming up. Click the link below and check out what's coming up from the calendar. (The link is now correct!)