Gunn Together Times

Principal Stratton's Update, 3/24/21

A Joint Letter from Your Gunn & Paly Principals

Dear Gunn and Paly Parents,

We have a few important updates for our community with regard to AP testing, open campus, and teaching and learning.

Teaching and Learning

  • We are now in our third week of providing options for students to return to our campus for in-person learning. It has been thrilling to observe student life reinvigorate our campus. The transition back to in-person learning will take all of us time to adjust to a new learning environment that includes social distancing and wearing masks. During daily classroom walk-throughs, it has been a joy to observe the growth of teachers, during these past couple of weeks, as they adapt to the new parameters involved with delivering lessons from the classroom.

Open Campus

  • With the announcement of Santa Clara County moving into the orange tire, both Gunn and Paly will return back to open campus. This means, beginning Wednesday, March 24, 2021, students are allowed to leave campus during lunch or prep periods.

AP Testing Update

As many of you are aware, some of your AP tests have been moved to different dates, and in some cases, the test dates are after our school year has ended. Much thought went into designing the schedule. While not ideal, these decisions were made of necessity. We apologize and recognize that this information seems to be coming out on short notice. As we have found many other times this year, guidance and conditions change rapidly. The College Board sets the potential dates for testing. They gave us three date options per test. Due to the pandemic, we have capacity issues, which prevent us from conducting tests on campus. In a normal year, it is difficult to find space for testing. This year, we are utilizing every classroom on campus, as well as the gyms, library, and student center for in-person learning. In addition to the need for large spaces, in most testing cases, we need more rooms in order to accommodate students with special needs. Again, in a typical year, it is difficult to find space, but in this year, it is not possible.

Capacity limits within a room or building are dictated by the square footage of a room and/or the ventilation capacity, whichever number is lower. The fact that the CDC recommends three-foot spacing between students does not change the total number of students that can be in each space. Additionally, the College Board requires students to be at least five feet apart.

Turning to our administration of the AP exams, the schedule was designed whenever possible to maximize student success. After speaking to most of the teachers, they believed it was best to test no sooner than exam session #2 in order to be able to cover all the curriculum that the College Board will include on the AP tests. We were able to avoid having tests during the week of finals and graduation.

We have heard concerns that students are worried about technology issues when taking the online tests. We have spoken to the College Board about these concerns, and they stated,

This year’s testing application is different than the one created for emergency use in 2020. This year students will need to download an application onto their computer to test; students will also need the internet to start the exam and to submit their responses, which will be stored within the application. The exam application is designed to support any breaks in connectivity once students begin their exams. This mitigates the issues caused by connectivity disruption.

We have also been asked about the difference between the digital and in-person exams.

Please see the following statement from The College Board:

“Schools can confidently choose when to administer exams based on their specific circumstances and what’s best for their students, without worrying about which exam administration mode or slightly different exam format might be easier or harder. Similarly, teachers can feel confident continuing to teach their courses as planned, knowing that all versions of the exam will assess the same required course content and skills. Compared to a paper and pencil version, there’s nothing about an AP Exam being digital, or about any particular version of the digital exam, that inherently affects a student’s ability to get a particular score. All versions of an AP Exam, whether paper or digital, cover the same content, use the same question types, and in most cases have the exact same number of multiple-choice and free-response questions. AP Exams are designed such that a student’s AP Exam score reflects the level of ability and achievement they demonstrate—not a specific predetermined number of points they earn—on their exam. While different versions of an exam are intended to have comparable difficulty levels, some individual questions will be slightly easier or harder than others. Accordingly, for decades, AP has used standard and widely supported psychometric and statistical procedures, called linking and equating, to provide students with comparable scores regardless of which exam version they take.

In closing, we understand that this format is a departure from a regular AP schedule, and is far from ideal. However, with the constraints involved, we believe this is the best scenario for this difficult year.


Wendy Stratton, Gunn Principal & Brent Kline, Paly Principal

Link to Gunn AP Page & Schedule

Link to Paly AP Schedule

Prepared Schools Update for Parents

COVID -19 Prepared Schools Update for Parents

Let's look at three scenarios as they relate to COVID-19:Scenario 1: Your child is exhibiting one or more COVID-19 symptoms.Scenario 2: Your child has been i...

Gunn Stands In Solidarity Against Racial Violence

Dear Gunn Community,

There are times in our nation when we are called upon to come together. I have heard it said that our nation has faced two pandemics this year, one a physical virus and the other the virus of racial intolerance. As we grapple with the sadness, fear, and uncertainty caused by the recent tragic events against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, I want every member of our Gunn community to know that we are fiercely devoted to the ideal that no one should ever be made to feel at risk or vulnerable to racism or hate.

In the midst of this, I have been thinking about the resilience and solidarity of this exceptionally caring community. We demonstrated resilience as we launched our Hybrid/In-person or Distance Learning options. During this complex process, parents’ and students’ diverse opinions were respected as they determined which scenario best met their needs and the Gunn staff continued to provide the best possible learning experiences for all students, regardless of their selection.

Our solidarity is reflected in ongoing dialogue within our community (inside and outside the classroom) about the impacts of racial aggressions and racial violence. We ask the entire Gunn community to stand with us in solidarity against racist violence in all its forms. Below are resources you might find helpful if you are looking for ways to learn more about how you can support Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in our community.

At Gunn High School, it is our highest objective to embed and nurture the values of acceptance, inclusion, and kindness in our community. Learning how to be more empathetic, compassionate, and welcoming of all cultures, races, and religions is work we are all invited to engage in on a daily basis. This is courageous work that undergirds a collective commitment to making Gunn High School and the world a better place for all people. If you have questions or concerns that you would like to discuss with me or any member of our support staff, please reach out.

In the spirit of “Gunn Together”,

Wendy Stratton, Gunn Principal
Assistant Principals: Michalis Gordon, Leonel Argumedo, Pier Angeli La Place, and
Harvey Newland

2020-2021 State Testing

We will be administering the State mandated SmarterBalanced assessments across the Palo Alto district this spring. The high schools will administer the CAASPP and CAST testing on consecutive Mondays, April 26 and May 3. The testing will be a school-wide commitment, therefore, these Mondays will need to be asynchronous days.

The CAASPP tests for English Language Arts and Math will be administered to all Juniors. The CAST test for science will be administered to all Sophomores and any Seniors who did not complete the test as Sophomores.

The CAASPP and CAST tests give teachers important information on the academic progress of our students and are useful for curricular improvements. Teachers will be administering the tests during testing blocks, non-instructional periods.

In addition to providing students, parents, and teachers with valuable information on student academic progress, the CAASPP test also provides students with academic eligibility and opportunities that they will not have if they do not participate.

These include:

§ Eligibility for the State Seal of Biliteracy (along with other language criteria)

§ Eligibility for the Golden State Certificate of Merit Diploma (along with other criteria)

§ Eligibility to bypass entry course requirements for English and Math at CSUs

(depending upon score toward the College Readiness Indicator)

The CAASPP and CAST tests have been intentionally scheduled after SAT testing and before AP Testing in May. Gunn teachers have committed to being mindful of testing on scheduled days and will not load students with assignments, projects, and tests.

Gunn High School has made tremendous progress in our student participation in the SmarterBalanced assessments. We progressed from participation in the low 20% to 84% participation last year. Our intention is for all Juniors and Sophomores to participate in these upcoming tests. We hope to get closer to the 95% or above participation that our surrounding school districts, such as Mountain, Los Altos, and Menlo Park, have achieved. We need your support to do this.

More specific information on SmarterBalanced assessments will be coming. If you have questions after this information is shared, please contact our Gunn SmarterBalanced Assessments Coordinator, Pier Angeli La Place at

Summer School Information

This year summer school will be offered in-person for kick-start credit or credit recovery. Session one will be offered June 14 through July 2, and session 2 will be offered July 6th through July 23rd. Students can take one kick-start (general education) course per semester or two credit-recovery classes per session.

Kick-start courses offer students an opportunity during the summer to take both credit or non-credit courses. For-credit courses help students lighten the regular school year course load and to access an in-person instruction opportunity over one or two sessions (total of 10 credits). Living Skills will be offered online both sessions and is only available to rising seniors. Non-credit courses are provided as supplemental courses not typically offered as part of the course catalog. Language immersion courses are offered without credit. No credit or grades will be awarded for the completion of these courses.

Credit-recovery courses offer the opportunity to recover 2 courses per session up (total of 20 credits).

Maximum Graduation Credits Earnable: A student may earn a maximum of 80 units of credit toward graduation in any given school year. This includes summer school and any courses taken off-campus.

High School Credit Recovery

  • The Guidance Counselors will approve and register all Credit Recovery classes.
  • Counselors will register students who are credit deficient. Families do not need to contact counselors.
  • You will be able to take and complete up to four semester's worth of credits (20 total) this summer. Two semesters during Session 1 and two semesters during Session 2. Note: You do not need to participate in both sessions or both classes offered per session, if you do not need to recover that many credits.
  • Please note that school counselors and our Summer School Admin team will reach out to students and families with notifications of enrollment before the end of May 2021. Enrollment in credit recovery classes is determined and prioritized by student credit deficiency and graduation year. If your student needs to re-take a Spring 2021 course, counselors will communicate once spring semester grades are posted and/or the need becomes apparent.
  • Summer Principal, Courtney Carlomagno.
  • For questions regarding enrollment, contact Natalie Skelton.

Kick-start Program

  • Kick-start registration link (open until April 1, 2021).
  • Please note you will not be officially enrolled until you receive an email confirmation. This will not be first come, first served. Your request will be noted by our administrative staff and your enrollment status pending. Enrollment confirmation for Kick start will be sent at the end of April.
  • For those unable to register online paper registration forms for the General Program will be available at the district office, beginning March 12, 2021.
  • Spaces are limited to capacity at Gunn High School and COVID protocols.
  • Summer Co-Principals, Courtney Carlomagno and Kim Lohse.
  • For questions regarding enrollment, contact Natalie Skelton.

Gunn Return To Campus Handbook

Please review this document to learn about procedures and protocols associated with returning to campus. This document will be updated regularly to reflect any changes made over the coming weeks.

ParentSquare Training and Information

Please complete the health screener for your child(ren) by 8:00 AM every day that they are coming to campus. Fill out the survey honestly and keep your child(ren) at home if you answer "Yes" to any of the questions.

If you answer a question incorrectly, you will need to contact your school to clear your child to attend. You will not have another opportunity on the same day to complete the screener.

If your student will not be attending school, you do not need to fill out the screener but you will need to contact your site attendance secretary.

Additional details, instructions, and a quick video can be found on the district website. To download the PAUSD custom app for your mobile device go to the App Store (iOS devices) and the Play Store (Android devices).

On Campus Learning Student Checklist

A parent must complete the Parent Square health screener before students come on campus.

Packing Checklist:

  • Fully Charged Chromebook/Laptop

  • Laptop Charger

  • Gunn lanyard w/photo ID

  • Headphones

  • Filled Water Bottle

  • Lunch (BYO or have the Free Lunch, no delivery)

  • Mask(s) (ready to be put on as soon as you arrive on campus)

  • School supplies needed for your classes

  • Jacket (classroom doors and windows will be open)

Upcoming Schedule Adjustments

Friday, April 2nd - Minimum Day

  • Collaboration/Prep - 8:30 - 9:35 am
  • Period 5 - 9:40 - 10:45 am
  • Period 6 - 10:55 am - 12:05 pm
  • Period 7 - 12:15 - 1:20 pm

Week of Monday, April 5th - Friday, April 9th - Spring Break

Monday, April 12th

  • At Home/Synchronous Learning (Normal Monday Schedule)

Tuesday, April 13th

  • Asynchronous Day for SATs

Athletics Update

Current sports practicing and playing

  • Football – Finish on 4/18/21
  • Cheerleading – Finish on 4/18/21
  • B/G Soccer – Finish on 4/23/21

Sports Starting on Monday April 3, 2021

  • B/G – Track and Field – Purple Tier – Finish on 5/28/21
  • Boys Golf - Purple Tier – Finish on 5/28/21
  • Boys Tennis - Purple Tier – Finish on 5/28/21
  • Baseball – Red Tier – Finish on 5/28/21
  • Softball – Red Tier -Finish on 5/28/21
  • Girls Lacrosse -– Red Tier -Finish on 5/28/21
  • Boys Lacrosse – Orange Tier – Finish on 5/28/21
  • B/G Water Polo - Orange Tier – Finish on 5/28/21

Sports Waiting to Start due to being indoors – Can not start unless County is in proper color tier

  • Badminton – Orange Tier
  • B/G – Basketball – Yellow Tier
  • B/G – Wrestling – Yellow Tier
  • B/G Volleyball – Yellow Tier

Athletic Registration and Updates

  • to register and current athletic physical to be able to start practice.
  • Updates at and

SAT School Day Schedule (April 12-16)

SAT School Day - Modified Schedule - April 12 - 16

Gunn will be administering the SAT without an essay during the school day on Tuesday, April 13th. The exam is for 11th graders only. We have approximately 300 11th graders committed to taking the exam. Due to the number of students who want to take the exam we will be using most of our classrooms and staff to administer the exam. We will be working on a schedule to train staff over the next two weeks to proctor the exam.

BTW: The College Board dictates which days tests can be given, hence the Tuesday date.

Upcoming Events

Wednesday, March 24th

  • Gunn Together - ASB Elections Assembly
  • Career Speakers Live Q & A (Lunch)
Thursday, March 25th
  • Career Speakers Live Q & A (Lunch)

Friday, March 26th

  • Photo Make-Up Day
  • Career Speakers Live Q & A (Lunch)

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 |

Annie Bedichek, Lili Nova-Roessig, & Mana Uchino

| 9th grade Class |

Elizabeth Lam, Naomi Wang, & Michelle Chen

| Special Ed/Inclusion Rep |

Momo Yanagihara & Yael Uziyel Navel

Superintendent's Update, 3/19

The agenda is always tentative until formally posted. The updated calendar can be found HERE. Notable topics for the upcoming meeting include discussions around early literacy efforts, investment in training all K-3 classroom teachers in Orton-Gillingham (OG) instruction, possible options for distance learning models for the fall, and summer school expansion.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on March 17, 2021, the nationwide extension of several waivers that allow all children to continue to receive nutritious meals this summer when schools are out of session. These flexibilities are now available through September 30, 2021. The original waivers were previously extended only through June 30, 2021.

The waivers extended to allow for safe meal distribution sites that serve all children for free, regardless of income. In addition, the waivers:

  • Allow meals to be served outside of the normally required group settings and mealtimes; and
  • Allow parents and guardians to pick-up meals for their children, including bulk pick-up to cover multiple days of feeding children.

Summer meal sites are places where children and youth age 18 and under can receive meals at no cost in a safe environment. The meals are also available to persons over age 18 with mental or physical disabilities. The PAUSD site is a bike/walk-up/drive-through meal pick-up site located at JLS Middle School. The summer meal pick-up schedule is to be announced at a later date.

We are aware that the CDC has revised its guidance regarding the spacing of students in classrooms. NPR has an article that captures some of the details and can be found HERE.

The change released by the CDC DOES NOT immediately change our model or approach. We need the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to revise their order before we can consider changing our practices. That will be true of every school district in our state. We have been planning for a potential shift for the last couple of weeks and will have options if the CDPH follows the CDC recommendations. Dr. Bardach, who leads California’s school reopening strategy and guidance took a moment this morning to share that they are looking at the CDC guidance very closely, but couldn’t predict if and when they might act to conform with CDC.

We are excited that our employees are either fully vaccinated or in the process. The CDC shift is exactly what schools needed to reopen in the fall. There are still realities and logistics that will need to be addressed to return more hybrid students to full in-person instruction this year. PAUSD will be in contact with both professional associations and will carefully review future revised orders from the CDPH. We will keep families informed as developments occur.

Like many, I have followed the coverage of anti-Asian acts throughout our country. As your Superintendent of Schools, I want to reaffirm our full support of our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander staff, students, and families.

I have seen the communication efforts from our sites and have reviewed many of the discussion topics led by our classroom teachers. I am encouraged by the immediate and purposeful actions taken to support our students in processing racist acts and attacks. Our middle schools provided resources for their families and teachers. I have included their links for this message as well.

Resources to Support Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders:

Resources for Teachers:

Indoor athletic practices will resume the day we move to the Orange Tier. It is possible that Santa Clara County will move to the Orange Tier as early as next Wednesday. We appreciate the patience of our students, coaches, and families as the entire league and Public Health Department has grappled with getting kids back to indoor athletics.

The Palo Alto Unified School District is one of five California school districts to receive Moody's Aaa issuer rating for their bond measures.

The March 5, 2021, article from Moody’s Investor Service detailed the following:

“Palo Alto Unified School District's Aaa issuer rating reflects the district's thriving local economy within Silicon Valley and anchored by Stanford University (Aaa stable). At 190.4%, median household income is almost twice that of the national average and the assessed value per capita is a robust $544,025 as of fiscal 2021. Importantly, the district benefits from exceptionally strong community support with high voter approval of bond measures as well as a parcel tax, which currently provides $16 million in revenue and increases annually by 2%. The rating also incorporates strong financial management with detailed adopted policies and consistent financial performance. While the district's leverage is somewhat elevated, this risk is reduced by our expectation for continued, strong growth in property tax revenue.”

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.