Paly Community Update

Friday, March 24, 2023

Greetings Viking Families!

We are excited to share with our Paly families that our recent CAASPP testing experience was a success. Together, we increased our initial student participation from last year’s 51% to at least 80% for this year. We should continue to see increased participation rates as we hold make-up sessions over the course of the next few weeks. We appreciate all of our students in this year's junior class, that participated in the CAASPP and would also like to thank our parent community for understanding the importance of having your student participate in this state mandated testing.

Bicycle Safety

This reminder is very important for all families who use bicycles and/or frequently pass bicyclists in the area. Last week, a Paly student biker suffered minor injuries near the school. Please remind your student to maintain awareness when biking in the community and on any streets. Using safety protocols is very important as often riders may assume that all bikers are seen despite weather conditions or the time of day.

The spring season is near. Please ask your student to maintain greater vigilance, reduce speeds, focus on cars in parking lot areas, and be clear prior to crossing intersections.

Our student safety is always important, even when students are not at school. The Palo Alto Unified School District is grateful for all outreach and help family members provide to each other and to our neighbors.

March 27, Virtual Parent Education: The Pressures of High School: Supporting our Students’ Mental Health

High school can be a difficult time for students. As they continue to develop their identity, they can be confronted with various pressures. The pressures range from grades to testing to the transition from high school. They do all of this as their peers become more and more prominent in their lives. All of this impacts their mental health. So, how can you best support your high school student during these years?

Join us for a PAUSD Parent Ed session where we will hear from CHC’s Catherine T. Harvey Center for Clinical Services expert Dr. Melina Foden, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist, about how as a parent you can support your high school students as they navigate these challenging times.

Date and Time: Monday, March 27th, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Location: Zoom (provided through CHC Eventbrite registration)

PAUSD High School Updates

Administrative Regulations

The following administrative regulations have been updated to help provide clarity with the procedures for taking courses outside the district towards graduation and challenging courses by examination. These administrative regulations will be effective June 5, 2023:


Starting 2023-2024, both Paly and Gunn high schools will offer two lanes of Geometry (Geometry and Geometry Honors) instead of the previous three lanes (Geometry, Geometry A, and Geometry H). This sequence aligns with the science department’s recent move to two ninth-grade lanes (Biology and Biology H). Furthermore, with all non-accelerated eighth-grade students taking the same Algebra class, there is not a need to offer three different versions of Geometry.

Students interested in finishing PAUSD’s highest math course (BC Calculus) before graduating and have shown proficiency in five out of seven Algebra strands in middle school are encouraged to take Geo H, while other students should select Geometry (or Algebra if they would like to solidify their foundation). The district still plans to have three different lanes for Algebra 2 (Algebra 2, Algebra 2/TrigA, and Algebra 2/TrigH). All three of these classes will be accessible from either Geometry course.

Guidance Updates

Course Selection

The Course Selection window is now closed. Thank you for helping your student(s) get their course selection sheets signed and in on time. Please note that the Master Schedule is reflective of these requests - classes are created and staffing confirmed to meet these needs.

There will not be room for adding and/or dropping classes at the start of the school year when your students receive their schedules with the exception of:

  • Duplicate classes appear on the schedule

  • Missing graduation requirements

  • Successful completion of a class in summer school

  • Wrong level class

Advisory Update

During high school, students learn much more than core subject information. We are lucky at Paly to have an Advisory class as part of our 3-tiered Guidance system that gives us the ability to introduce students to many life tools. These “soft skills”, also known as Social Emotional Learning (SEL), are not only helpful throughout life, but highly valued in any profession. Feedback from employers listed these ten skills as what they value most in employees: Time management, communication, adaptability, problem solving, team work, creativity, leadership, interpersonal skills, work ethic,and attention to detail. Our 9th and 10th Graders both experienced a lesson about Effective Collaboration (team work) and how working together leads to success. The timing of this lesson dovetailed well with Career Month. If you’d like to learn more, check out the lesson HERE.

11th Graders had their own important Advisory preparing them for their post-Paly plans. This lesson introduced Juniors to The Viking Guide - an important College & Career Planning tool. This guide is a collection of information about everything from applying to college, writing a resume, gap years, scholarship & financial aid, how to compute your GPA, to name just a few...the list is really endless. This publication is the place to go for information during Junior and Senior year. It is a must read for both students and parents - you’ll find you will refer to it again and again. It is available on at:

An important request for Jrs and their guardians: please remind your student to wait until after Spring Break in April to ask a teacher for a letter of recommendation for their college applications next year. Our staff is still busy supporting the seniors at this time and won’t turn their attention to Jrs until then. Thank you!

12th Graders are just 10 weeks away from being high school graduates! Many seniors are just completing the college application cycle waiting to hear the outcomes of those applications and making the decision about where they will spend the next chapter of their lives. This week’s Advisory is full of important reminders and dates to help keep them on track during this busy season. Parents should be aware of these

important next steps and dates as well. Click HERE to see the slides with information about Waitlists, filing the Intent To Enroll, Financial Aid, and Campus Housing, Community Colleges and Gap Years.

And finally, we hosted our Jr Parent/TA/College Advisor Night Wednesday 3/15/23. The event was well attended with many parent/guardians stating this is their first time through the application cycle. The evening is designed to share with parent/guardians all the information the Juniors are learning in Advisory so you can support them through the college application and post-Paly planning process. If you missed the event, a recording of the opening presentation was shared with you via Parent Square. The slides for the opening presentation can be found on under Parent Resources.

College & Career Center updates

Community College Week April 10 - 14 (STUDENTS ONLY)

The College and Career Center is hosting a community college week. Student workshops will take place April 10 - 14. Students will have the opportunity to learn more about what the Community College system has to offer, the transfer process to four year colleges and receive help on how to apply.

4/10 Monday: Community College 101

Time: 12:35pm (Lunch, in Room 526) Lunch will be provided

For Juniors and Seniors interested in finding out about affordable CA community college pathways to specialty careers and transfers to 4-year schools such as UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and more.

4/11 Tuesday: Transfer Info Session

Time: 1:00pm (3rd period, in Library Classroom)

Did you know you can guarantee your admission to 6 of our UC’s and get priority consideration to CSU’s? Come and learn more about the transfer process, transfer agreements and general education requirements.

Students need to get approval from their 3rd period teachers (unless they are in AVID) to attend this session, they can use this email template

4/12 Wednesday: Community College Rep Visits

Time: 12:20pm (Lunch, tables in front of Library)

Community College representatives will be on campus during Lunch. Please visit their booth for more information and to ask questions. Foothill, De Anza, Cañada and College of San Mateo will be there.

4/12 Wednesday: Community College Application Workshop

Time: 2:40pm (Prime, in Library Classroom)

This workshop will guide students through the application for all community colleges. Students should bring their laptops and Social Security Number with them to this session (if available).

4/13 Thursday: Community College Alumni

Time: 1:00pm (3rd period, in Library Classroom)

Come hear about Community College Alumni’s experiences.

Students need to get approval from their 3rd period teachers (unless they are in AVID) to attend this session, they can use this email template

4/14 Friday: Foothill Honors Program

Time: 1:00pm (Advisory/Study Hall, in College & Career Center Conference Room)

For Seniors who are interested in hearing about the Foothill College Honors Program. The program has transfer partnerships with colleges and universities across California and the United States. Students completing the Honors Scholar Program enjoy enhanced transfer consideration including guaranteed or priority acceptance consideration, special scholarships, housing priority, and pre-transfer library privileges.

College Admission Decisions
As students decide which college to attend among their acceptances, they should reflect back on the qualities they deemed important to them when they started their research looking for a college "fit"--academic, social, and financial. Students can research many topics, from the college website, reviews in guidebooks, speaking with current students, and even programming during Admitted Student events; but ultimately, they will need to trust their instincts and make a choice. No college is perfect. Please remind your students that success in college has less to do with which college they attend and more to do with the skills, habits, and attitude they bring to it.

In Advisory this week, in addition to discussing next steps for students’ acceptances, Teacher Advisors shared information about how to handle denials and pursue waitlists, as well as how to avoid being rescinded.

If seniors are rethinking their post high school plans, there are some colleges still accepting freshmen applications for Fall 2023. You can do a search on the Common App ( or look at out-of-state public colleges with rolling admission. And, in mid-May, NACAC will publish the "space available" list of colleges still accepting Fall 2023 freshmen applications.

Of course, if seniors are now considering a gap-year or community college, a College Advisor can help with those plans. For more information, see the relevant section on .

Remember, seniors can still make an appointment to meet with their College Advisor to talk through college choices and decisions. We offer drop-ins at lunch or students can schedule an appointment via Calendly.

Financial Aid Awards

If your student filed a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) by the colleges’ deadlines, they should have received a Student Aid Report (SAR) via email which contains federal financial aid information. The financial aid offices at each college to which they applied will use the SAR to determine how much and which kinds of financial aid they are eligible to receive. They will try to meet your student’s financial need through a package that combines aid from both federal and state grants with loans, institutional grants and student employment. Following this review, each school will send the student an award letter that explains which types and amounts of aid they are eligible to receive. There is no standard format for these award letters, but most are made up of financial calculations which include the cost of attendance, expected family contribution (EFC) and financial need; use, this tool to help you compare aid awards. The financial awards section will specify the type of aid which is being offered to meet this need.

Students must notify the college whether they plan to accept or decline the financial aid awards. They do not have to accept all aspects of the offer, but if they decline a specific portion it is unlikely that the school will substitute another form of aid. As a rule, the financial aid office has offered as much as possible in grants and scholarships, so do not assume that these awards will be increased should you decline work-study or loans.

If your financial circumstances have changed since the FAFSA was filed, notify the financial aid office. And, if you feel there are special circumstances the college should consider (e.g. parent recently laid off; income from 2022 (or 2023) is very different from 2021 (which was reported in FAFSA), call the financial aid office to inquire; students might have the opportunity to complete a form or submit a letter of explanation for special consideration. This resource from Swift Student can help your student request a financial aid appeal:

Community Service

Paly Service Day April 18th, 2023

In lieu of a normal school day, students can visit a local organization, earn up to 4 service hours, and give back to the community. It's been successful in years prior to COVID, drawing over 200 Paly students to 10+ different sites in the Bay Area.

Registration closes SOON on Sunday, March 26th, 11:59 pm! Service Day is open to ALL GRADES at Paly, so anyone can join.


In addition, there are also on-campus service projects available for those who don't want to miss a day of school, hosted on Wednesday, April 19th, by Paly Key Club.

If you have any questions, please email Or for on-campus opportunities, email


Service Before Self Team

Work Permits

Getting ready for summer? It’s a great time to gain some work experience - volunteer, internships, or paid positions can be found on this slidedeck. Some summer programs have due dates, such as the Lockheed Martin internship for rising seniors due on Monday, 3/27. There’s a FREE fair this Sat. in Sunnyvale for more ideas to consider for summer. Save the Date: PAUSD Job Fair @Paly MAC on Sat. April 15th 11:00-1:00pm - all are welcomed to explore the opportunities. Reminder: Work Permits are required for any job when a minor is earning money from a company. Contact Work Experience teacher Rachael Kaci for career related information and to process a work permit.

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